NAZARETH, PA - Martin Guitar sales reached a record $100 million for 2011, with exports accounting for 40 percent of the total, says CEO Chris Martin.

For 2012, sales should grow another 15 percent, to $115 million, Martin tells the Wall St. Journal, which reports today that Martin Guitars has been "on a hiring binge" after well-heeled buyers began snapping up pricey instruments, some as costly as $60,000.

To fend off would-be counterfeiters of the luxury wood instrments, the 175-year-old privately held Martin Guitar has retained Applied DNA Sciences. In 2011, Martin Guitar began incorporating a unique “Martin Guitar” botanical DNA mark, produced using plant DNA, onto each of the guitars produced in its factories at Nazareth, PA and Navojoa, Mexico.

The technology allows any guitars made by Martin Guitar from 2011 onward to be identified and forensically authenticated. The DNA technology has been accepted in legal proceedings as a reliable verification of authenticity in many categories of goods.

Martin Guitar has been positioning itself competitively against other high end guiatr makers. Last month it hired Kate Richardson, who runs Richlyn Marketing in Nashville. Richardson knows the business well: she is the former marketing manager of Gibson Guitars.

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