Sweetwater Still Growing, Attracting Talent

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FORT WAYNE -

The founder of Fort Wayne-based Sweetwater says the company he started in his old VW Bus and now employs close to 1,300 is continuing on a growth trajectory. During a special edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick focusing on the state's second-largest city, Chuck Surack discussed the steps the music industry supplier and producer has taken to attract and retain talent. The 400,000 square-foot campus has been described as Google-like and includes onsite salon and exercise facilities, a cafe and a slide connecting floors.

Surack discussed growth and changes in downtown Fort Wayne and his continued philanthropy. "Five years ago, I had no employees living downtown. Today, I have 55 and more want to live downtown, there just aren't spaces available right now." Surack added he and his wife, Lisa, "have been incredibly blessed and we know we can't take it with us, and we know we want to set an example. We know we want to be leaders in the community, encourage others, and we've been very humbled to see lots of other people that are coming along the same way."

The current facilities on the 160-acre campus began as a 40,000 square-foot, 200-employee operation that has grown several times since moving to its current spot 11 years ago, including a nearly $9 million investment detailed in 2015 that called for 285 new jobs and expanded marketing and merchandising facilities. In October, Sweetwater grew its footprint with 55 additional acres. The campus has been designed "to be conducive for our customers and guests first," but Surack says it also serves its employees with "the kind of amenities that they would come (from throughout the country) and enjoy." He says more than half of the company's workers have relocated to the Allen County city.

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