Not every single thing that is popular needs to be a publicly-traded company. Companies should go public when they need an influx of capital to achieve rapid growth that would otherwise be impossible. In my view, Fender Musical Instruments would not have been a good candidate to go public for a couple of reasons.
First, the Boomer guitar glut is likely over, with younger people being more inclined toward computer-based music than ever before. Also, the distribution channels of big-box stores, favored by major players such as Guitar Center, are on the wane.
I’ll bet Fender will be a big company for years to come. Unlike some of the name guitar companies, Fender’s quality is very consistent, and they have a wide variety of price points, with stupidly-inexpensive Squiers that are better than ever, to Mexican made instruments that require only a few tweaks to become professional instruments, to their always reliable American Standard series, and Custom Shop creations that are drool-inducing.
But that doesn’t mean they would be a great candidate for the slings and arrows of fate that the stock market can bring. I hope they keep making a great product for reasonable money. I also hope they remember what happened when Leo Fender sold out to CBS.
Note: the photo is of your erstwhile author playing a record date with his trusty Fender Sting Precision Bass this past weekend.