HB Sound & Light: A Successful Dakota Business Lending 504 Borrower
October 26, 2016
The sound and light industry was anything but unfamiliar to Jameson (Jamie) Lunski. After years of experience working at WE Fest in Detroit Lakes, MN, and Cartage and Sound in Nashville, TN, Jamie found that event production and installs were becoming more than just a job, but a passion—a passion that had him working over 40 hours per week in Grand Forks in his “free time”. These experiences led Jamie to becoming the founder and President of HB Sound & Light, Inc., a regional technology company specializing in professional, corporate, and special event services, in 1995.
With just two employees, HB Sound & Light was operating two divisions, Events and Install. The Install division specialized in security (perimeter, video, and access control), digital signage, and systems integration with a single-button control, large audio/video systems, and high-end lighting systems. The Events division could take an open harvested field, roll in semi-trailers, and within days transform it into a full-blown outdoor concert venue set up—operational from the stage and roof all the way down to the instruments, speakers, lighting, and microphones.
The company operated the two divisions in separate offices. After years of making this work, Lunski realized that as the company grew, he needed to combine the two divisions into a single office in order to function more effectively. “We were extremely full. We had exceeded our capacity and all of our events and equipment were dispatched out at our Fargo location,” explained Stacy Evens, HB Sound & Light’s Director of Operations.
“Our Fargo and Grand Forks offices were packed to the ceiling. We were spending more time stacking equipment in between events and we were busting at the seams,” added Marketing and Payroll Manager, Tricia Halvorson Lunski.
To help fund a new building to fit their needs, Jamie turned to Dakota Certified Development Corporation (now Dakota Business Lending) and Bank Forward for a Small Business Administration 504 loan.
Through this program, HB Sound & Light was able to purchase a building in downtown Grand Forks big enough to house all of their equipment and offices and give them a more convenient dock space for safer loading and unloading.
Now, the space was large enough to operate both divisions out of the same building, therefore minimizing stress, improving efficiency, reducing operating expenses, and better serving the regional customer base.
“The 504 has been excellent. It has allowed us to actually grow in ways we probably wouldn’t have been able to grow as aggressively as we wanted to. It has enabled us to add people, expand the business, get into a location that is really our dream location, and also add equipment,” Tricia explained.
Events Coordinator Brian Lofthus, as well as Stacy and Tricia, all spoke highly of their President: “When Jamie is at an event, it’s like he is in a place he loves. You can just tell it on his face and his personality that he is very passionate about live events, and it’s his happy place.” He was a recipient of the Citizen Appreciation Award in November 2013 and the 40 Under 40 in December 2013 by Prairie Business Magazine.
Stacy, Tricia, and Brian all agreed that their favorite part of their job is helping the community become a better place and seeing hard work pay off.
Because of the 504, “we have been able to offer events actually in our building…things we wouldn’t be able to do previously. We have the space to interact with the community and provide training and an educational environment that we weren’t able to previously simply because we were literally on top of one another,” they explained.
HB Sound & Light received a Certificate of Appreciation from the White House Communications Agency for the “outstanding manner in which [HB] provided support to the President of the United States of America during his visit to Fargo on the 3rd of February, 2005.”
Thanks to HB Sound & Light’s experience working with Dakota CDC (now Dakota Business Lending) and the SBA 504 program, they plan to continue to expand and improve.
“The Dakota CDC (now Dakota Business Lending) team made it incredibly easy. They were very patient and walked us through it step by step,” added Stacy. “We’ve actually utilized this again recently. We’ve done a second equipment loan on a 504 SBA program and are very excited. It was a great experience for us.”
Brian noted that HB Sound & Light’s passion for the art and creativity in general is just one of the many things that makes them unique. “We also have a lot of different people here that offer a lot of different skills, which allows us to solve a lot of problems and come up with different solutions,” added Tricia.
“The three of us work in the office, but even our days are never the same. It’s always changing and different, and that keeps it exciting and challenging,” they all agreed.