Heritage was formed by former Gibson employees after the company left Kalamazoo. The owners were Jim Duerloo, Marv Lamb, Bill Paige, JP Moats, and Mike Korpak, who left shortly after the company started. All were in some type of management roll at the time. All had been longtime employees of Gibson that simply didn't want to move to Nashville. They bought a bunch of the equipment that Gibson did not take with them, and moved into the same building at 225 Parsons Street. This happened in 1985. Some of the owners had started with Gibson in the mid and late 50s. Ren Wall joined them, after being in various positions at Gibson.
Their designs were obviously Gibson inspired, although they dipped their toes into other styles. They kept the old style of manufacturing, staying with hand building rather than having machines do most of the work. About the only real "automation" was the duplicarver that carves tops for the various guitars, although it's basically a pin router that rough carves tops one at a time.
Things stayed pretty much the same until 2016. At that point, changes began to take place. JP had retired, and sadly passed in 2015. All of the owners were getting up in years. A local real estate company bought the building and purchased Heritage. Half of the company was sold to Bandlab, a company from Singapore who also owns a lot of other musically related entities. They are a larger musical instrument retailer in SE Asia. They bought Sonar after Gibson tossed it in the trashbin and built it into Bandlab recording software. They own Guitar Magazine.
In the process of refurbishing the building, they moved the guitar making operation from the basement of the original building to a part of the building that Gibson had built in the 60s or 70s. (At one time Gibson basically owned the entire block). There was an incident with some longtime employees, some were let go, and others left in protest. I won't go into the issues, as I wasn't party to any of it. Suffice to say, new employees were hired. They brought in some good people to manage the operation, while keeping the original owners. Marv and Bill have since retired. The last I heard, Jim was still coming in, but it's important to realize that these guys are getting into their 70s and 80s. Pete Farmer, who had worked for Heritage previously was brought in to oversee manufacturing. Edwin Wilson was brought on board from Gibson's custom shop.
In relocating to the newer part of the building, the company kept the process and old equipment, but updated the area in a lot of ways, especially in safety. An extensive dust collection system was built, a new sealed spray booth was built to minimize dust contamination of the finish and keep the employees from breathing toxic fumes. A premium was put on consistently high quality, which had varied some over the years. They are still hand made, but all reports are that the quality is much improved. They contracted the product line to concentrate on the better sellers, H150, 530, 535, 575 and Eagle. The 137 was in the line until this past year. Bandlab also owns Harmony Guitars which are built in the same building, but have CNC cut bodies and necks and then assembled.
I think the company is stronger than it has been in years, but at the expense of the almost family atmosphere of the original company. That's not a bad thing. Had the company not been sold, I'm sure the next step would have been to close the doors.