From its factory in Spring Valley, Deering Banjo Company has made more than 100,000 banjos since the business launched in 1975.
In the debut episode of I Made it in San Diego, a podcast illuminating the stories behind the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs, I talk to Greg and Janet Deering about how they grew their small family business into a company that’s made more banjos than any other instrument-maker in existence.
Musicians all over the world now play Deering banjos and the business continues to grow, but finding success wasn’t easy. The Deerings said they barely squeaked through some of the recessions, and describe how one early business partnership fell apart and forced them to start from scratch. Their eventual popularity was powered, in part, by Deering banjos’ appearances in pop music and on “The Price is Right.”
Even in the toughest times, though, Greg Deering said he always knew Deering Banjo Company would work. Early on, he made a pact with his wife that they’d never give up, no matter what. That stubborn confidence paid off, and now Deering is the largest manufacturer of banjos in the country.
“It was this underlying sense of certainty that I can’t explain,” he said. “There were times when we didn’t necessarily know where the rent or the groceries were coming from, but somehow we always managed.”