Beautiful Jukeboxes Were Once Manufactured in Grand Rapids
There was a time when quality jukeboxes were made in Grand Rapids, Michigan!
Nestled away in a normal looking building that sat on the southeast side of the city was a company called Rowe International/AMI. The company was founded in 1909. For over a century, they manufactured coin-operated jukeboxes that could be found in restaurants and bars around the world. Over their 100 years, they have made over 1 million various style jukeboxes here in Grand Rapids. Along with jukeboxes, they also manufactured dollar bill changers.
In August of 2009, the manufacturing operations of Rowe International/AMI moved out of Grand Rapids. The manufacturing of the jukeboxes was moved to Mexico. 2009 was also the same year the company was celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Over the years, the style and designs of the machines went through various changes. The original jukeboxes played vinyl records and were operated by the coins. In later days, the jukeboxes were re-designed to play cd's and eventually became internet ready. The devices also started accepting various forms of payment, including credit and debit cards.
In 2017, the company was sold to an out-of-state investment firm.
On the upper floors of their building, Rowe International/AMI had kept one of nearly every model of jukebox they produced. It was their own "jukebox museum" that few new even existed. A visit to the museum was by invite only. I was fortunate in 1999 to be invited to visit the museum.
The main room was dimly lit in order to show off the lighting built into the various jukeboxes. I didn't get an exact count, but there had to have been well over 100 devices in that room. As I walked around the room, I took as many pictures as I could.
Here are some of the pictures I took back in 1999...