My on-the-job training officially began when Tony Sklarew and Gary Raymond Lennard, both from Altman Lighting, offered me a ride from the airport to my hotel. The taxi ride conversation was full of advice and words of encouragement. I distinctly remember Tony wishing me luck and saying he'll see me at the bar. A great foretell of what was to come.
My very first experience at the show was stepping into the convention center to watch a professional lighting crew hanging dozens of Cyberlights for the upcoming Jefferson Starship concert. The foreman took the time to explain to me what the crew was working on. Later, I was awestruck to learn the foreman was none other than Lowell Fowler, co-founder of High End Systems (HES). I recall thinking this was a great place to be.
I spent my week watching a crew of professional carpenters and stagehands build an enormous two-story house for Martin Professional. In the opposite corner, HES built a Broadway quality production featuring the latest Studio Colors. The lights were complemented with some of the most increasable costume and makeup work. You could feel the energy as both companies were working so hard to outdo each other.
So many memorable moments! I couldn’t wait to return the next year. I wasn't alone; so many of my fellow interns also fell in love with the business that week. Many of us returned to Miami in '95 to experience it all over again. I continue to stay in contact with many of them. Reminiscing about the '94 show continues to be a highlight for me as I now return as a vendor year after year.
I walked away from the experience knowing that the technical side of lighting was for me. The community of professionals was so warm and willing to mentor young aspiring nerds like myself, I felt I needed to be a part of it. The experience inspired me to submit my resume to ESTA and shortly thereafter start traveling around the country as a technical specialist for Strand Lighting.
Later, I went to work for Barbizon’s Systems Division, where I have been honing the craft for more than 20 years and sharing LDI stories with the new faces of the industry.