The brand name Crafter and the company’s own South Korean manufacturing site, which is one of the most modern factories in Asia, are symbols for the successful match of high-tech production and the traditional craft of guitar-making.
Crafter’s history starts in 1972 when HyunKwon Park founded his business in the basement of his home in Seoul. Within a compact 20 square metre space, HyunKwon built classical guitars for the Korean domestic market with four other craftsmen. By 1978 they had outgrown their basement space and moved to bigger premises, just outside Seoul, in order to fulfil their growing customer orders.
At this time, the guitars were branded ‘Sungeum’ which means ‘accomplishing the sound’. This is still a well known brand in the Korean market today but HyunKwon’s ambition was to sell to guitar players across the world and so he started to build acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars to appeal to international markets.
In 1986 HyunKwon’s son, Injae Park (pictured), joined the company and HyunKwon became chairman. InJae believed that ‘Sungeum’ was too difficult a word for his export market so he decided to create a new brand that would be both easy to remember and convey an appropriate image. He chose the name ‘Crafter’, which has connotations of high quality and also pays tribute to the craftsmen and women who create the guitars. The Crafter brand is now registered in more than 40 countries throughout the world.
In 2000, Crafter built a 7,000 square metre manufacturing workshop (on a 12,500m2 site) for 140 craftsmen and women to produce 60,000 guitars a year. (10,000 of those guitars are sold here in the UK)
In 2009, Crafter expanded again and built a bigger state-of-the art manufacturing complex to build even more guitars. The move which was the result of 5 years of planning and construction features modern facilities including leisure rooms, a huge restaurant, gym, and a chapel for all the staff who work there. Building in the same area as the previous workshop in Yang-ju (Gyeonggi Province) meant that Crafter could retain all of their loyal and highly trained staff.
When HyunKwon Park and his four employees began their conquest of the Korean market with classical guitars, their focus was on ‘top quality’ and ‘excellent value’ guitars which are two concepts closely connected with his brand name, Sungeum. Since running the company in 1986, InJae Park, has established Crafter as a world-famous brand which matches these virtues like no other’s.
Although today’s guitars are produced using state-of-the-art industrial engineering, a great amount of craftwork still goes into the making of each guitar. And while more than 60,000 instruments leave the factory each year, every single one of them has its own personality.