TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — SONY DADC’s rich Terre Haute history continues 40 years in the making.
1 Music Lane, Terre Haute, IN, is a nostalgic address. Many people shipped off music orders by mail. While the address doesn’t appear to still exist, the building and the company that produced the Columbia House Music Club CDs, and still do today.
“It’s an interesting road and interesting turning point that we’re at right now,” Chad Bolin, Vice President of Manufacturing and Distribution of Sony DADC said.
“To be able to say, we have a rich history from where we’ve been, now we have to make the rich history going forward, and it’s going to be something different than what we’ve been,” Bolin said. “So, a challenging time, but very exciting time as well.”
That history is 40 years in the making. Sony DADC opened its first plant in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1983 and was the first CD manufacturer in the United States. The first CD, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ was produced there in September 1984.
“Sony DADC, I always referred to it as one of our Crown Jewell employers,” Steve Witt, President of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation said.
At its peak, Sony employed over 2,000 people and was the largest employer in Terre Haute. The plant produced more than four million discs each day, 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
“We’ve done every format possible. From CD to Blu-ray to UHD to laser disk, UMD, we’ve done all the different formats from a video or gaming standpoint,” Bolin said.
“The total investment over the years is multiple billions of dollars,” Witt said.
The plant’s primary focus today is the Sony PlayStation. While discs are no longer produced at the Terre Haute plant, the famous blue Sony game cases play an important role.
“100% of all PlayStation games in North America, flow through our facility,” Bolin said.
The Terre Haute plant is still responsible for packing and distributing.
And for those sometimes hard-to-find consoles, “90% of all the PlayStation console units that are distributed across the United States come right through our Terre Haute facility as well,” Bolin added.
As digital downloads of music and games continue to emerge, the demand for discs continues to decline.
“They had a very successful run, but due to technology marching on, the company’s had to reinvent themselves and we’ll see what the future holds but it’s very interesting,” Witt said.
“We’re starting to take a look at ‘what else can we become,” Bolin said.
As for the future, “One of the primary goals that we have through all of our diversification efforts and as we look for it in the future, is, we truly want to keep as many people working as long as possible at Sony as they can,” Bolin said. “That’s our goal and really where we are trying to go because we really want to give back to the employees because they’ve given back to us for so long.”
“It’s really a neat story,” Witt said. “The company was on the decline, now they’re on the upswing again. And that’s great news for our community.”
Bolin said the challenge is to get that word out, that Sony is open for business. With the potential, the space, and the technology for many potential business partnerships.
“We still have our base of 40 years of history, right? And 40 years of engineering superiority so to speak and ingenuity,” Bolin said. “All of that history and background is still there. Now, we just have to take it and apply it to new endeavors.”
If you drive by SONY DADC on Fruitridge Avenue, you’ll notice some construction underway on the former Columbia House. With interest from partners in warehouse space, Sony is busy transforming a building they said they haven’t used in about 15 years, to useable warehouse space. The space that formally served thousands of Columbia House employees has been completely gutted, they are in the process of installing dock doors, all part of Sony’s diversification plan to be able to take the space they have and make it viable for their employees and the future of the company.