From the moment I met her, I realized that Cindalee Hall handles herself as a true lady, but shows the strength and knows the laws of what it takes to run an international corporation. She is modest in her demeanor, but a proud parent about the guitars and basses of Rickenbacker.
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Long Beach CA. I'm eighth-generation "Californios." My mother's family came up from Baja CA, with the Mission system. My great-great grandparents were Geronimo and Catalina Lopez, whose house is a historical landmark in San Fernando CA. (He created the first post office and first school in San Fernando.) I was one of five kids born into a military family and lived in Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Tustin CA, as well as North Carolina and Hawaii.
Was your family musical growing up? No one except me. I studied piano and voice at 13 and was considered a dramatic soprano. I still love opera today.
Growing up within 20 miles of "Ricky," did you ever envision that you would be President of this corporation? No! I wanted to become an opera singer at the Met.
What colleges did you go to and what are your degrees in? I have two Bachelors of Arts degrees from the University of California, Irvine: one in Art History and one in Classical Literature. I realized I did not have the full skills to become a professional opera singer, but it was the love of my life. Later on, I received my Juris Doctorate (doctor of law). I studied constitutional law at Western State University in Fullerton and imagined I would work for the government.
When and where did you meet your husband? We both signed up for a European tour for high school graduated students. I was 18; he was 19. We met in June. By August, John had proposed, and we left the trip in Italy and went to Gibraltar to get married. His mother was concerned, so we postponed it till October. We have been married 41 years and have two grown children who work at "Ricky."
What are your children's names and what do they do at Ricky? Benjamin is the Production Manager, and Sarah was the Office Manager until she gave birth, in March, to Brody Hall Beighley, our first grandson.
When did you go to work for Ricky? In 1990, after I finished law school. John gave me a job in personnel and told me I would need to work my way up and learn all aspects of the business to move up the ladder. John's father, F.C Hall, had done the same with John, and he knew it was the right course.
How long have you been President of Rickenbacker International? For 10 years. I started adding on more and more responsibilities of the operation until I became President. I want to give credit where credit is due, and that is to my husband, John Hall, for giving me the opportunity to either do or not do a good job. John is a hard task master. He made me earn my stripes. Digging in was the best education I could have had in this industry.
What are your daily duties? Chief cook and bottle washer! I handle all of personnel, marketing, accounting, ordering and everything except the factory; Benjamin handles that. John supervises all aspects of the business.
What instruments have you learned? Piano, and I'm now learning drums. My biggest influences are Gene Krupa and Big Band music. In voice, it would be Beverly Sills and Pavarotti.
What do you like to do outside of the industry? Writing children's stories and writing poetry.
What percentages of females to males work at Rickenbacker? Slightly more than half of the 55 employees are females. Female employees perfect a high skill rate and a consistency from staying in their jobs longer. Most employees have been with us for 20 years or more. We have three generations from one family. One woman has worked with us for 29 years.
Do you get together with other female execs of the industry to discuss business, or for personal time? No. This was the first time, Rebecca. In fact, this is my first interview ever. It would be nice to get together with other female executives in the industry to share experiences. Women have our own perspective compared to the men in the industry. What we have to learn and absorb and react to is different from men.
What do you see for the future of Ricky? We want to maintain the standards of quality, legacy, history and dedication. Rickenbacker is an American-made guitar in the same area where it was born. We are not relying on branding; we are relying on our family legacy.
What, if anything, would you like to say in this article? We have been a part of the 81 years of quality by making a consistent effort. We are loyal to our independent dealers. They are the backbone of our industry. We have a loyal customer base. We have enormous respect for our product. We don't borrow; we don't bet with other people's money. It's not a job. It's an avocation!
How about a female executive band? We have Cindalee Hall on drums, Carolyn Grant on keyboards/cello and Rebecca Apodaca on electric bass. If you are an interested female executive in the Southern California area, contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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