Building Guitars and Community: Getting to Know the Women Behind the Scenes at PRS

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As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 20 – Summer 2022

Recognized for their stunning good looks, distinctive bird inlays, and impeccable tonal quality, PRS Guitars have long been regarded as a gold standard for guitars.

Did you know that behind every good PRS guitar is a good woman? With nearly half of new guitarists being reported as female, according to a recent study, it’s no surprise that PRS is also employing some incredible women to aid in the construction, marketing, and distribution of their gear.

Meet some of the brand’s female staff members and learn what they love most about their jobs.

Judy Schaefer

Director of Marketing

Hire Date: June 2005

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
My favorite model is the Hollowbody II Piezo. I was not familiar with piezo systems before working at PRS, and I love how versatile and musical our system is. The aesthetic of a hollowbody with double f-holes is a total plus. I bought one in Vintage Natural back in 2007 as my TWO-year employee guitar, and I love it.

What do you do at PRS?
The Marketing Team has an incredibly diverse area of responsibility – from our website and social media channels, video production, graphic design work, content creation and copywriting, to advertising, public/media relations, charitable donations, events, sponsorships, and partnerships. I try to set up every member of my team so they can be impactful in their individual role, and I work with the leadership team in Product Development and to set and achieve company goals. 

What do you like about your job at PRS?
I love that we keep the instrument as the primary goal above all else. I spend as much time talking about guitar making as I do about social media and advertising, and that says a lot about the culture here. Even after seventeen years, there are still new ideas and new challenges every day. We are small enough to feel the individual impact of every employee, but big enough to make huge waves in the market. And my team is amazing! I am thankful I found PRS.

Bev Fowler

Director of Artist Relations
Hire Date: October 2002

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
PRS Hollowbody – love the ability to be able to get electric and acoustic sounds from one guitar.

What do you do at PRS?
I oversee and manage the entire artist relations department at PRS Guitars while focusing on expanding and maintaining brand equity within the community of accomplished and emerging artists, engineers, producers, and musicians.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
I love working with artists around the world to provide them with the tools to do their jobs.

Christie Woodard
Director of Human Resources
Hire Date: 1996

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
McCarty 594 Hollowbody II. It’s versatile and beautiful. My 25-year employee guitar is running now and will be a McCarty 594 Hollowbody!

What do you do at PRS?
As the Director of HR, my team and I work hard to hire and retain great people. We manage quite a bit, to name a few: onboarding, employee relations, benefits, business insurance, 401K, payroll, fun committee, and the PRS safety and health program.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
It’s the people, always. I’ve been here now for 26 years, but I’ve also worked in other places; there is no place like PRS. This is such an artistic and eclectic group of people who happen to gel together magically. I still love coming to work every day. 

Meghan Efland
Director of Supply Chain
Hire Date: May 2004

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
McCarty 594 Hollowbody II – The Hollowbody models are so unique to PRS and are incredibly versatile. I take great pride in being part of the product development team that brought the 594s to market.

What do you do at PRS?
The Supply Chain team works with our suppliers, purchases materials, plans the production schedule, maintains compliance with State, Federal, and International law, facilitates the inventory control program, warehouses materials, and ships finished goods. 

What do you like about your job at PRS?
Working in supply chain, I am involved in all areas of the business, from vendors to our customers as well as internal operations. The PRS team works together, constantly improving and providing the best products we can to our customers.

Frances Brown
Director of Accounting & Finance
Hire Date: Feb 2009

What do you do at PRS?
My job in accounting allows me to interact with all parts of the business as everything passes through accounting in some fashion. Here’s a short version of the accounting impact, pay the mortgage, utilities, equipment, tooling, materials, parts and labor to make the instruments. Pay the shipping costs to deliver the instruments. Then we process the invoices to send to the customers and record sales, and collect the payments from customers so we can pay the bills.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
The things I like most about working at PRS are the people and unique opportunities. I have built relationships with people inside and outside of PRS that will be part of my life forever. PRS has enabled me to have a home guitar collection that “wows” friends and visitors. 

Amy Tharpe
International Inside Sales Representative
Hire Date: July 2020

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
I love anything Private Stock. The artistry and attention to detail that goes into them is magical.

What do you do at PRS?
I am the inside sales specialist for many of our international distributors and dealers! I provide direct support for the outside/field sales representative, input sales orders, facilitate logistics communication, and generally help maintain positive and lucrative relationships with our international dealers.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of such a rapidly growing company – one that’s full of the most creative, inspiring, and hardworking folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of running alongside. And I think it really shows in the work we do. We get to make and sell beautiful, quality instruments — I don’t think it gets better than that!

Autumn Porter
Body CNC Operator
Hire Date: September 2016

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
My favorite PRS model is the Paul’s Guitar. The Honduran rosewood fretboard and brushstroke bird inlays paired with the maple top and brass-appointed hardware make for a sophisticated look, along with the killer sound that you’d expect from a PRS.

What do you do at PRS?
I run multiple CNC machines that carve the guitar bodies using several drill bits. This is where the bodies take their shape so that the rest of the factory can truly make them into the beautiful guitars that they are.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
There’s a lot to love about my job, but what I really enjoy is that I get to see these guitars come alive. They start out as blocks of wood and get carved into these beautiful instruments right before my eyes, and there’s always something new and exciting to see, like exotic woods and less common models.

Arden Miller
Touch-Ups and Repairs
Hire Date: February 2018

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
The “Paul’s Guitar” is by far one of my favorites; not only do I enjoy the look of the unique brushstroke inlays, but the fact there are more varieties of tones I can play around with and adjust using the 3-way toggle, single-coil or humbucking switches activating bridge or neck pickups, and of course the tone knob. I picked this model as my two-year employee guitar!

What do you do at PRS?
I repair any damage on the topcoat, so my job is to fix any injuries (such as dings and paint burns) that can be fixed. In some cases, I airbrush paint over any burns that can be covered and/or blended.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
I enjoy the opportunity to learn so many aspects of guitars, how to build them, how to play them, and to grow more appreciation of guitars. I would not have as strong a love for guitars if I did not work at PRS.

Emprin Wilson
Drop-In Electronics Assembler
Hire Date: August 1996

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
My favorite model is the Santana guitar because I love that style of guitar. I got to get a backplate signed by him once, and that was cool.

What do you do at PRS?
I make all the electronics drop-ins and wire parts together. I also keep everything functioning in my area for the business.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
I love my job because I cultivate a sense of belonging and identity, and it relieves stress for me. I feel safe and supported, and I also believe Paul Reed Smith makes sure we have the best opportunities to succeed.

Karrie Pelchat
Final Assembly & Electronics Manager
Hire Date: May 2007

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
The Hollowbody. I like the way it has both acoustic and electric sound options.

What do you do at PRS?
I help lead the team in final assembly and electronics to build a better product and share ideas.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
I always loved music so being a part of something that brings that to life is an amazing feeling.

Tracy Deemer
Warehouse Coordinator
Hire Date: April 1996

What is your favorite PRS model and why?
This is a hard question to answer. I love all models and have some myself. I have a Santana, an SCJ, Custom 24. I also have a McCarty 594 Hollowbody II in the works!

What do you do at PRS?
I have the pleasure of shipping guitars all over the world. Most people would not think that to be exciting, but knowing our product will be arriving in someone’s hands and bringing them joy is an awesome feeling.

What do you like about your job at PRS?
Making relationships with dealers all over the world. Helping them by making sure their product makes it to them.