Gibson Brands, the world’s most iconic guitar brand, has shaped the sounds of generations of musicians and music lovers across genres for more than 100 years. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, TN, Gibson Brands has a legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships and progressive product evolution that is unrivaled among musical instrument companies. The Gibson Brands portfolio includes Gibson, the number one guitar brand, as well as many of the most beloved and recognizable music brands, including Epiphone and the Gibson Pro Audio division. Gibson Brands is dedicated to quality, innovation and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands.
James “JC” Curleigh joins Gibson as president and chief executive officer, where he will lead a new Gibson senior team of proven executives with broad experience in global brand building, finance and product development. JC is a guitar enthusiast and has been a proud owner of both Gibson and Epiphone guitars over the years, including his latest addition – a Gibson 1960’s J-45 acoustic guitar.
Most recently JC served as the president of the Levi’s brand at Levi Strauss & Co., where he guided strategic shifts, leadership team evolution and market execution for all brands within the Levi Strauss & Co. portfolio, including Levi’s, Dockers, Signature by Levi’s Strauss and DENIZEN by Levi’s. At Levi’s he returned the brand to its iconic status and grew the business profitably every year under his leadership. He has a proven track record from Levi’s of finding ways to leverage heritage and create modern solutions. JC (along with his team) is credited with being the driving force behind the Levi’s resurgence.
Over the years, JC has built a reputation as a brand building expert and has crafted uniquely tailored solutions for a variety of other well-known consumer goods companies, including as president and CEO of KEEN Footwear and of Salomon Sports NA. At KEEN, he steered a young company to years of strong growth and developed a unique brand identity for its future. Additionally, under his leadership at Salomon, he expanded the ski company into a leading innovative action sports brand.
JC holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has furthered his executive education at both Stanford and Harvard. He also has delivered several keynote speeches around the world on progressive brand building, business solutions, and team dynamics. He is a triple citizen of the U.S.A., Canada and the U.K. and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Waterkeeper Alliance. He loves to play music, surf, ski and travel extensively with his wife and three kids.
Cesar Gueikian joins Gibson as chief merchant officer (CMO) overseeing product and its evolution, commercial solutions and marketing strategies. His new role with Gibson melds his nearly 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and financier, investing in companies around the world, with his life-long passion for guitars and music.
Prior to joining Gibson, Cesar founded Melody Capital Partners, an alternative asset manager focused on private corporate financing and investing. Under his leadership, Melody grew from a seed investment of $100 million to more than $1.5 billion in assets under management.
Prior to founding Melody Capital, Cesar served as founder and global head of the Special Situations Group (“SSG”) at UBS, as well as head of the firm’s Leveraged Finance Capital Markets (“LCM”) team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has also headed Illiquid Credit Trading for North America at Merrill Lynch and he began his career at Deutsche Bank in London and New York.
Cesar earned a B.A. in Business from Universidad de San Andres, Buenos Aires, Argentina and an M.B.A. from The University of Chicago. An accomplished musician, guitarist and song-writer, Cesar picked up his first guitar at the age of 10 and performs an eclectic range of music genres, from Spanish to rock to heavy metal. Over the last 25 years he has performed and recorded with several heavy metal and rock bands and is an avid collector of vintage guitars, with a collection that includes over 30 Gibson guitars. Cesar also competed professionally on the international tennis tour, is a surfing enthusiast and self-described extreme sports junkie.
Kim Mattoon joins Gibson as chief financial officer (CFO), where she will oversee Finance, IT, Human Resources, Legal, Facilities & Security, and Customer Service. She joins Gibson with nearly 25 years of experience connecting great consumer brand products with consumers, most recently as the chief operating officer of Richemont North America, a global luxury consumer products company.
At Richemont North America, Kim led the day-to-day commercial services and operating activities that supported the achievement of the region’s strategic and financial goals. Under her guidance, Richemont established and enhanced the controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and people systems to effectively support and grow its business.
Prior to Richemont, Kim served as CFO at IWC Schaffhausen and Peter Millar – both Richemont portfolio companies – and as Vice President – Finance, Real Estate, and IT at The Body Shop. She began her career and spent 10 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers. During her time at IWC Schaffhausen, she worked from their headquarters in Switzerland, giving her unique international perspective and the opportunity to interact with a variety of consumer groups. Kim brings her strong financial acumen, ability to build global brands and deep understanding of enterprise-wide strategy execution to her role as CFO at Gibson.
Kim graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Accountancy from Wake Forest University and earned her CPA in 1994. Kim likes renovating old houses, reading, and playing golf with her husband and two children.
Christian Schmitz joins Gibson as chief production officer. As CPO, Schmitz will oversee Gibson’s U.S. and global production platform, driving global best practices in manufacturing, supply chain synergy and operational excellence. He brings expertise in operations, production and manufacturing accumulated from his years of experience working with a variety of industries and global brands.
Prior to Gibson, Christian was a director at KKR Capstone. He has significant expertise leading the transformations of multiple businesses while serving as a partner at McKinsey & Company and has significant operational experience from his time as chief operating officer at German car service chain ATU. Christian holds a diploma in Business Administration from WHU Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management.
Nathaniel M. Zilkha joined KKR in 2007 and serves as the Head of Alternative Credit, which includes the firm’s private credit, principal finance and special situations businesses. Mr. Zilkha is also a portfolio manager for KKR's special situations funds and portfolios, which he has managed since their inception in 2009, and a member of KKR’s Investing & Distribution Committee, Private Credit Investment Committee, Special Situations Investment Committee and KKR Credit Portfolio Management Committee. Mr. Zilkha graduated cum laude from Princeton University. He is a lifelong guitar player and musician, having played lead guitar for the New York-based band Red Rooster in his earlier years. In his time with the Red Rooster, the band published three albums Walk (2009), Dose (2005) and Porch Songs (2002), and toured at various music festivals, including an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2008.