I had been using a local AV and DJ equipment supplier, Electric Sound Crew for many years to purchase equipment. In fall of 2015 I had an opportunity to partner with a new venue in which we needed to purchase and instal approximately $100,000 worth of equipment. Tony Monte was the owner of Electric Sound Crew and he helped quite a bit in sourcing all the equipment that we needed to make this happen in the timeline we had be given to work with. It was around this same time that we had also been working closely with Tony and some of his customers in providing rental equipment for those that wanted to rent over purchasing as well covering needs while equipment was sent away on repair. In the fall of 2016 Tony offered to rent out half of his secondary industrial unit which was used for storage which I took up as I had been on a look out for a storage unit.
Late 2016 the venue hadn’t been working out for us 1 year into the project and I decided it was best to pull out of the agreement and get the equipment out of the venue as it was not creating any income for the business and there was no sign of things changing on how they operated. We notified the venue and went in taking out all of the equipment that we installed. Some of the equipment we kept in our mobile inventory but most of it we traded in to Tony for store credit at Electric Sound Crew.
In early 2017 Tony disappeared out of nowhere one day. It was a Thursday evening, he closed up his shop and Friday there was a note on the door they were closed for a family funeral. Monday morning came around, his staff hadn’t heard from him and they weren’t able to get a hold of him either. I was planning to go see him when they opened at 10am and then head over to our unit to work on some equipment prep. Upon arriving one of his staff was there as well, the doors were locked and the sign was still on the door. We both had a weird feeling about everything. We decided to head over to the second unit where my equipment was stored. It wasn’t soon after this both of us were receiving phone calls, text messages and emails asking us about Tony, the store, where he was and if we knew anything. We then received a forward of an email that was sent out from Tony and Electric Sound Crew to all or most of his suppliers which stated he had closed the business, there was nothing left, they had no money left and lost their house. Every piece of equipment I owned was in the unit and luckily my keys still worked and we were able to get in. Once we heard this news I made a call to one of my staff to go pickup a rental truck and come to the shop. We loaded as much of my equipment as we could into the truck and my van. There was still a few items that we couldn’t fit so I decided I’d leave them and try coming back in the morning. I went back first thing in the morning but the locks had been changed by the landlord and we were unable to get in.
I was no left with no place to store my equipment so I was on a quick search to find a storage unit. Luckily I was able to find a reasonable storage unit within a couple of days. The only good thing was that my rent on the storage unit was lower than the rent I had been paying but it was smaller and wasn’t heated. I had about $12,000 in store credit that I wasn’t able to claim (some of which I had equipment on order but was kept being told there were shipping delays). I also had about $3000 worth of equipment that was loaned / rented out to Tony for his clients in which I hadn’t received any rental money either. On top of all of this the original equipment had been financed so I was still left with 2 years of monthly payments on the leases.
By the end of day that Monday my phone had been ringing off the hook with people calling, texting, messaging and emailing me about the whole thing. As it turned out Tony had ripped of quite a few people in this whole process. He owed all of his suppliers a crazy amount of money. He also owed a lot of his customers money, credit and equipment… some in the $100,000+! Needless to say there were quite a few angry people. Since a lot of people knew that I had been involved with Tony and ESC they wanted to know if I knew anything about what happened, where Tony was, where his family was, if I knew where their equipment was, etc. I had no idea where he was or that he had this planned or anything at all about what happened and went down. I was shocked, surprised and ripped off just like everyone else. I was extremely lucky that I happened to be there that Monday morning and was able to get into the warehouse before the landlord changed the locks. If I wasn’t able to get in or if I wasn’t able to get a truck there that day I would have lost everything that I owned in my business.
Our business had been growing year after year, these partnerships had been expected to grow our business even more throughout 2017 and beyond. These two major setbacks were disappointing at the time however I quickly moved on and let it be a learning lesson. 2017 turned out to be a great year for business even though we had to play catch up and continue to pay off this debt and loss that we had to take on. There is no doubt whatever business you are in you will come across obstacles similar to this whether it’s a partnership, supplier or customer you will have to deal with things like this at some point. For me it was move on, look forward and focus on the business. If I were to let this get be down for too long it would have effected our ongoing business and future business growth. In order to have a successful business you will need to takes risks at some point. These two ventures and partnerships were a risk which could have had large returns in growing our business. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way but we’ve learned from the experience and are focused on the future. The key is you need to be focused, determined, persistent and passionate about what you do and you will be able to get through whatever obstacles show up in your business.