From The Ground Up: A New Waiting Game & Reason for Optimism

December 31, 2014 by Stu Chisholm

In our last episode, Stu’s van, Vanzilla was still being held captive by the body shop,  Ben Stowe’s recommendation left Stu cold, and Stu’s side job demanded attention.   Stu was about to find out, however, that he wasn’t done waiting!  What could possibly go wrong — or right – now?


By the end of October, things were getting desperate.  My time window of free weekends was drawing to a close and the 2 week promise to have all of my body work done had passed.  Texts to Brian, the owner of Premier Finishes were promptly returned, but he’d apparently gotten slammed with some government contracts that backed-up his entire operation.  Note to all of my DJ colleagues who demands the very best; everybody, including Uncle Sam, may be begging for their attention, too!  I reminded him that my next Job was at the end of November and the van would absolutely be required.  He assured me that it would be ready.  He’d be right, although nowhere near within a “comfortable” time frame.


During that time, Ben Stowe finally replied, saying that he really did think his recommendation was what would work best for me.  Given his certainty, I’ve decided to give it a try.  His long silence of the past was a sharp contrast to the flurry of e-mails over the 11th and 12th as we discussed options for ins, outs, connectivity between devices and possibly the internet, and even a cool new light show option that was soon to be released by Chauvet.  A bit more confident now, I asked him to toss together a parts list of everything we discussed, which also included that Sennheiser wireless mic package, and get me a quote.


Finally, Brian texted to say that Vanzilla would be primped, polished and ready to dazzle the following Monday!  I was so excited as I walked into the shop.  As you can see from the photos, there’s a reason why these guys are considered the best!  (Photos with graphics are “before,” and the shiny, white “blank canvas” pics are “after.”)  Stunning!


Looks like new!

Looks like new!

2014-11-21 11.50.21 2014-11-21 11.51.06

An odd problem had developed, though; the driver’s side door lock wouldn’t work.  You could lock the van, but not open it from the outside.  I had to open the rear cargo door, walk through the box to the “doggie door,” slide into the cab and then open the door from the inside.  My passenger door lock handle has been broken for a while, but I’d let it go.  I suddenly regretted that oversight.  So, it was off to my friendly Ford Dealer   Over a year earlier, I’d gotten a recall notice for some sort of problem that Ford needed to fix (I’m still not entirely sure what it was), so I took the opportunity to get both done at the same time.  A c-note later, and the lock was back to normal, so my back would be spared the Limbo moves entering the van in the future.


At the Truck Doc's

At the Truck Doc’s

Ben’s estimate arrived on the 25th, and he also said that the Chauvet lights were in and could be shipped ASAP.  After a quick consultation with my business CFO, otherwise known as my wife, Janette, we’ve accepted his quote and will be ordering once the funds are transferred.


As I write this, Vanzilla is now in the hands of the mechanics at Mike’s Truck & Trailer, having already been there more than a week.  This month’s window is even more narrow, my next gig being on the 19th.  I’m on pins and needles waiting for word.  Some fairly extensive stuff is needed up under the hood, including an oil pan and front wheel bearings, plus an AC recharge and vehicle inspection for the wonderful USDOT folks.  Once it is back, the next battle is some new graphics!  Then I can get serious about my console, website and marketing plan.  That’s all.


Sorry for the long gap!  I’ll be a more regular poster now that things are starting to move a bit faster and there are worthwhile things to report.  Thanks for accompanying me on this journey thus far, and as always, I hope you’ll share your comments, criticisms, advice and stories of your own DJ business makeovers and tweaks.  Until then, safe spinnin’!

Stu Chisholm Stu Chisholm (54 Posts)

Stu Chisholm had been collecting music since he was about eight years old and began his DJ career in 1979. After much hard work, trial-and-error, and a stint at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, he studied the DJ arts with famous Michigan broadcaster, Bill Henning, at a local college. Stu interned at Detroit’s rock powerhouse, WRIF. To his radio and mobile work Stu later added club gigs at Detroit’s best venues, and voiceover work. He has shared his extensive DJ experience through his Mobile Beat columns, as a seminar speaker and through his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey: A Comprehensive Manual for the Professional DJ,” released in 2008.

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