Builder reigns in consulting, re-focuses on his products
Jon Cusack has a reputation in boutique pedal circles as the ‘go-to’ guy to assist with fixing a stubborn problem. He’s done it countless times, saving the bacon of his competition without fan fare… or many times compensation. But these selfless acts have come with a price — the growth and health of his own brand. That, he says, has to change…
“SOMEWHERE UNDER these floors is a drain,” says Cusack Music owner Jon Cusack pointing down. “I think it’s right there.”
The multi-building complex that is Cusack world headquarters near Holland, Michigan, has a lot of history, including a run as a hardware store, mechanic’s garage and an antique mall. The particular building we found ourselves in that moment did a fair span… as a mortuary. In the rafters above is where caskets would be stored. He invites us to take a look at the drain in a crawl space under the floor. We politely decline.
Today, the buildings are sprinkled with selective solder machines, substrate printers, pick-and-place machines, drill presses — basically all the equipment needed to not only manufacture his own pedal brands (Cusack and Mojo Hand), but more than enough hardware to handle a healthy crop of OEM work from other effects companies. Cusack, a twin by birth and an engineer/volunteer fireman by training, has built pedals for a wide swath of effects companies in the boutique business. Of course, as a condition of the contracts for the work, he is not at liberty to say just who he builds for, but suffice it to say most stomp box geeks have likely heard of them.
While the OEM work has allowed Cusack to keep a good workflow through the operation, it has also come with a price. Working with others, and sometimes consulting for others, has put a noticeable strain on the growth of his own brand. A few recent set-backs, including the loss of a top OEM client and a big chunk of cash to a consulting deal gone south, has prompted the pedal veteran to step back and reassess the way forward. While he genuinely enjoys coming to aid of others, he has come to realize it has hurt more than helped.