"HEY SUZ- Walk in MY Shoes"
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I recently started a new series “Hey Suz, Walk in My Shoes” where I follow different business owners around to learn what it’s REALLY like behind the scenes.
This weekend I put on my “dancing shoes” and mixed some music for Gregg Hollmann, owner of Ambient DJ’s. Ambient DJ’s is a Central NJ mobile entertainment service that specializes in weddings, corporate events and teen dance parties. Gregg is also the 2013 President-elect of the NJDJN, which is the largest professional DJ group in NJ.
Gregg’s background was in finance, but like many in Corporate American, he switched gears and followed his childhood passion of music. Gregg launched Ambient DJ’s in 1999. After 5 years, he hired his first staff member, and today he has ten DJ’s on his team!
A little side note: My eight year old daughter wanted to know if I would be “singing” as a DJ this evening. I happily explained to her that Gregg is not that kind of DJ. THANK GOODNESS for me AND for everyone attending the Sweet 16!
My Night Begins
At 4pm I met Gregg at Pierre’s in South Brunswick, NJ. He probably thought I was kidding when I offered to help carry in the equipment, but I was there to “walk in his shoes”--- all of them! He handed me a box and told me: “This Suzanne is equivalent to the brain. It runs the whole system, but no pressure.” I decided not to clue him in on my clumsy tendencies.
Gregg and his assistant Mike neatly set up for the night. I noticed how careful he was to hide the wires, which he later explained is one of the things that sets him apart from other DJ’s. “That’s one thing that you should look for when hiring a DJ,” said Gregg. “Professionalism including a contract, website, and liability insurance.” He went on to say that with all of these ingredients, there is no need to panic about your DJ showing up late for your important event. He recommended that those seeking a DJ should utilize the Internet as a resource with sites like WeddingWire.com and LocalChatBox.com where you can read reviews.
When you hire Ambient DJs for your event, your DJ doesn’t just show up and start playing music. The pre-preparation for the event actually took Gregg approximately 7 hours of work. His to-do list included: organizing the pre-requested music, prepping a slide show of pictures set to music and setting up a video series from guests who could not attend but had messages to deliver. The Day-Of operation took about the same amount of time: Set-up was 1 ½ hours, the event lasted 4½ hours and tear-down was 1 hour. That’s a lot of time invested for one event and this was just for a Sweet 16. As you can imagine, weddings are even more demanding.
I was amazed at the amount of technology used by Ambient DJ’s. Gregg clearly keeps his business on the cutting edge. He works with his clients to exceed their expectations, and he makes it look so easy!
Here's something that I learned that I thought would be helpful to share.
Treat your DJ right and keep them happy. Have one of the servers bring a plate of food and a drink to the DJ (and any assistants). That way they can eat it discretely while guests are enjoying the food and background music. Happy DJ= Happy Party!
The furthest Gregg ever drove to do a job was in upstate New York and he once flew to New Orleans for a “destination wedding”
Gregg’s most embarrassing moment as a DJ was during his first year in business. He was DJing for a 25th wedding anniversary and wished the couple HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the mic – oops!!
Does the Shoe Fit?
I learned today that being the owner of an entertainment business means dealing with crazy hours. Since Gregg works weekends and late nights, he will often plan a family dinner out on a Monday night. He misses a lot of family functions due to the hours when his services are needed. Since that is the case, I was glad to turn in my DJ shoes and tuck myself into bed at 10:30pm. Good night Gregg and Thank you for letting me “walk in your shoes” for a night!
Written By: Suzanne O’Rourke
My first pair of shoes was with Georgianne Vinicombe, owner of Monday Morning Flower and Balloon, Co. in Princeton. If you missed my recap, you can get it HERE
My next pair of "Shoes" will be "Ice Skates" as I skate and follow a Trenton Titans Ice Hockey Player this Thursday!!