John Gerome of the Associated Press reports on an entrepreneur who found a second career in an industry that had been relegated to the junk heap: pressing vinyl records. As big companies have abandoned the field, Cris Ashworth of Nashville saw an opportunity to do what he loved.
Nashville's United Record Pressing... cranks out 20,000 to 40,000 records a day, making it one of the largest -- and last -- vinyl record manufacturers in the country.
''Folks thought we had disappeared,'' owner and CEO Cris Ashworth said.
CDs almost destroyed the vinyl LP record, but disc jockeys and some audiophiles never lost their love for the analog sound, which many find warmer, more rounded, and simply more human.
Most of the discs are 12-inch singles destined for professional DJs at radio stations and dance clubs who still use vinyl records and turntables to mix, scratch and blend music.
''The record labels use us as a marketing tool to get that new track out there,'' Ashworth explained. ''They'll come to me on a Monday, want it out on Wednesday and played Friday or Saturday night at a club or radio station.''
Typically, the company will press four versions of the same song: a radio and club mix, as well as an instrumental and an a cappella version so DJs can mix and manipulate the sound.
Another portion of United's product goes to retail stores, where vinyl is preferred by amateur DJs, collectors and purists convinced that the sound is superior to CDs.
This is story with a side feature being the idea of doing what you love. Ashworth is a man who followed his dream comparatively late in life, and who has succeeded in the face of skepticism.
Ashworth himself is something of an oddity. A longtime corporate executive and former chief financial officer at Nashville Gas Co., he bought this place in 1999 with no experience or knowledge of the industry. At the time, the vinyl record business seemed doomed.
''My son was very worried about whether he was going to be able to go to college,'' Ashworth said with a laugh, adding, ''Thank the Lord for a trusting wife.''
But Ashworth made a go of it and then some, boosting employment at United from 10 to 60 people and fulfilling his own need to create something.
''A lot of people spend their lives doing something as opposed to making something, and I wanted to make something,'' he said. ''I wanted something tangible in my hands at the end of the day.''
This is part of a new line of thinking that I have on the vast resource that Baby Boomers can and will provide the world as we age. Everyone talks about the burden we are, but, I see it differently! I see so many people, once the kids are gone, doing the most interesting and fun things! They are not retiring. They are not old or sick! They are active and rich and involved and they want to do things that matter!
Look around, it is amazing!