National Guitar Summer Workshop, Inc

39 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2009

See all articles by L. J. Bourgeois

L. J. Bourgeois

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Orson W. Watson



A successful summer-guitar-camp venture founded by an artist-entrepreneur is facing slowing growth, a disgruntled professional (teaching) staff, an aging customer base, and shifting musical tastes. Product-line extensions have, thus far, proved unsuccessful. The case allows students to apply tools of industry analysis and strategy evaluation in an unconventional setting, and to make recommendations to a successful entrepreneur with a nonbusiness background.




Eyes closed, biting his lower lip, Tom Dempsey improvised several bars of “All of Me” on his jazz guitar. Seated around him in a semicircle were the members of Tom's morning Jazz Workshop with their guitars on their knees, anxiously awaiting their turn to echo what they had just heard. The six students in the room at the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, were an odd assembly of boys and men ranging from Frank, the 55-year-old physician from New Jersey, to Mike, the 16-year-old student at Scarsdale High School.

Although it was August and the Canterbury School was not in session, the campus was abuzz with people, the types of which the founders would definitely not have approved—the school had been rented out for the summer. Next to the main entrance, tee-shirted teenagers with long hair smoked cigarettes around a large makeshift ashtray. Middle-aged men with varying degrees of facial hair strolled across the campus with instrument cases slung casually over their shoulders. The clues to this unusual activity led to an office to the right of the main building's entrance. Through the door in the outer office, surrounded by a small crowd of people, sat the charismatic bundle of energy responsible for the summer activity at the Canterbury School. David Smolover, the 44-year-old son of a Scarsdale cantor, was the founder and managing director of the National Guitar Summer Workshop (NGSW), the largest guitar camp currently operating in the United States, and, for the past eight years, the Canterbury School's regular summer tenant.

. . .

Keywords: business and society, entrepreneurship, nontraditional business, strategy implementation

Suggested Citation

Bourgeois, L. Jay and Watson, Orson W., National Guitar Summer Workshop, Inc. Darden Case No. UVA-BP-0378, Available at SSRN:

L. Jay Bourgeois (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924 -4833 (Phone)


Orson W. Watson


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