Industry Interview: Ben Stowe, CTS

By Stacy Zemon, Publisher & Chief Scribe

It’s no secret that Pro Mobile DJ’s “Sound & Lighting Guru,” Ben Stowe, proudly call himself a “geek,” and that he serves the AV industry as the President of NLFX Professional, an industry leading supplier of sound, lighting and video systems.

Ben’s AV installs have been featured in almost every major industry trade magazine.

He has assisted lighting manufacturers with product R&D, as well as contributing to the DJ industry through presentations at trade shows, and articles for magazines in the U.S. and Europe.

Ben holds an electrical license as well as other certifications and accreditations, including the most widely recognized one in the AV industry, the InfoComm CTS.

What most people don’t know about Ben Stowe, is that he moved out of his house as a teenager and became homeless. Despite his struggles, Ben considers going his own way to be the best thing he’s ever done.

What’s more, he went on to become a motivational speaker with youth-at-risk, encouraging them to seek alternative paths in life that they may not have yet considered. Ben is also a volunteer high school wrestling coach.

PMDJ: Why do you consider moving out and going your own way to be the best thing you’ve ever done?

BS: Every bird has to leave the nest sometime. This one might have left the nest a bit prematurely, but it was a great opportunity to do some growing up.

I took the road less traveled and learned some hard lessons about life, but I think they were good lessons that have given me a good perspective and a great sense of humility.

In that light, yeah… I think it may be one of the best things I’ve done as it’s helped me to set the stage to be a better husband, father, leader and servant.

PMDJ: What got you excited about the AV industry?

BS: It wasn’t really a Damascus Road experience for me, but kind of a long, winding path. I grew up shadowing a neighbor in his home-based TV repair shop. He was a retired electronics instructor who taught me a lot about the field.

In school I took some electronics classes basically for the “easy A” and that furthered my love affair with it. The passion my instructor and my neighbor had for it was really contagious, but ultimately it was moving out that forced my hand.

I began to build and sell electronic devices to try to make ends meet so I could support myself through school, and that grew into what NLFX is today.

PMDJ: What types of customers does NLFX Professional serve?

BS: The interesting thing about NLFX is the variety of customers we serve. I think each demographic sees us as uniquely their supplier, and we like it that way. We want our customers to know that we care about them individually.

The main markets we serve are Houses of Worship, Tours, Athletic and Performance Venues, Hospitality, Aerospace, Haunted Attractions, Family Fun Centers, Power Generation, Healthcare  and of course…Entertainers.

PMDJ: What have been your greatest rewards personally and professionally?

BS: My greatest reward is the excitement my kids show when I come home (and the fact that my wife hasn’t changed the locks yet). That trumps anything else I can think of, but it was very humbling to be honored as one of the Outstanding Young Minnesotan’s a few years ago.

I think another great honor is the relationships I have been able to forge with people in the industry.

I love seeing the Star Wars pictures people post on my Facebook page, or the fun things people send me (like Star Wars Ice Cube Trays and M&M dispensers). It still really blows my mind how many people mention my name on chat boards, etc. when people have questions… and that really is an honor too.

To know that people regard you to be helpful and honest… that’s really tough to beat.

PMDJ: What do you do with your free time?

BS: I don’t’ spend a lot of time being bored. My principal role as the President of NLFX Professional keeps me pretty busy (and on the road about 200 days a year), but I try to balance it with the really important roles in my life as a husband and father.

In my spare time (he says with a sideways smile and a wink) I enjoy spending time with my family, and serving my church, my city’s Charter Commission, and the Boy Scout’s District Committee where soon I will be taking on a new role with my son’s Pack as the Advancement Chair. The Boy Scouts was very good for me as a youth, and I really enjoyed my journey to Eagle.

Locomotive engineering is a hobby, but something that has to be taken very seriously. I am responsible for 80 tons of steel and super heated steam that’s moving. The safety of hundreds of passengers, the crew, bystanders, and priceless equipment is all in my hands. I was trained on the “job” over the past 25 years that I have been volunteering there.


PMDJ: Do you have any sage advice for our visitors about buying gear?

BS: Yes, buy it from me! (he says audibly laughing at himself). In all seriousness though, my advice for buying gear is to think application first, and to understand the return on investment.

Quality gear, appropriately used will yield the best results and should have a long, profitable service life. If your budget and your application aren’t in line you should weigh those options and ultimately be able to intelligently decide which is more important.

I always try to get into dialog with people about their application to make sure I’m offering them solid advice.

PMDJ: Thanks for your time, Ben. May the Force be with you.

BS: And with you…

Ben Stowe’s highly praised “Event Lighting” and “Geek Boot Camp” DVDs are available at ProAcademySeries.com.

You can write to him c/o ben@nlfxpro.com

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