Entrepreneurs gone wild enjoy thrice the fun with their ventures

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Dave and Sue Van Wagoner operate three ventures from their Grand Valley home: a recording studio, hypnotherapy and consulting service and photography business. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

On any given day, Dave and Sue Van Wagoner could be recording music, helping a client quit smoking or shooting photographs at a wedding. It could even be all of the above.

Their busy and diverse activities constitute business as usual for the Van Wagoners, entrepreneurs gone wild who operate three distinct ventures out of their Grand Valley home.

“It’s usually eight-day weeks, but it’s been good,” joked Dave, whose retirement after a 30-year career in city street maintenance has been anything but retiring. He runs the Audio Vision Productions recording studio in addition to working as a clinical hypnotherapist and consultant for a business he calls Unlimited Potential. Meanwhile, Sue continues working for an internal medicine practice even as she operates Suzie Snapshot Photography.

Despite their very different pursuits, there’s an important common denominator for the married couple, Dave said. “In anything we do, connecting with others is at the heart of it.”

The Van Wagoners have operated their three businesses on a part-time basis for years, turning life-long avocations into vocations, albeit on a limited basis. Dave has played music nearly all of his life and once performed in a hard rock band called Stunn. Sue said she’s long taken photographs to document the lives of her children and now, grandchildren.

But the Van Wagoners have pursued their business ventures more actively over the past two years after Dave retired from his position as street supervisor for the City of Grand Junction. He worked for the City of Grand Junction for 20 years and the City of Craig for 10 years before that.

The couple recently remodeled and expanded their home to accommodate a larger recording studio as well as a photography studio.

Dave offers a variety of services through the recording studio — recording, production and mastering. An accomplished musician who plays guitars and keyboards, Dave also writes lyrics and composes original music as well as creates sound effects.

Given his experience and the technological capabilities of his studio, Dave said he can take a recording project from an initial concept to a finished compact disc.

Dave also works as a clinical hypnotherapist who’s helped clients quit smoking and lose weight as well as recover from trauma. In addition, he works as a life coach and consultant who’s helped individuals and businesses address problems and achieve goals.

Sue similarly offers a range of services and products through her photography business in shooting photographs at weddings and other events, creating portraits and selling landscape prints. She also works for corporate clients and shoots photographs to inventory belongings.

“She pretty much does it all — and continues to make me dinner,” Dave joked.

While their businesses usually involve different activities and customers, there’s some crossover for the Van Wagoners from time to time.

Dave says he’s tapped his experience as a hypnotherapist and counselor to help singers and musicians perform better during recording sessions. Conversely, Dave has recorded music on compact discs for his therapy clients to help them relax. Sue has taken photographs and used her computer skills to create images for inserts for CDs produced at the recording studio.

Faced with the prospect of operating only one business instead of three, the Van Wagoners said they’d be hard-pressed to choose just one. Dave said music remains his passion, although it’s equally rewarding helping people overcome problems.

Rather, these entrepreneurs gone wild said they enjoy the variety that comes with operating three distinct ventures.

“It’s interesting because you never know what’s coming next,” Dave said.

Added Sue: “Sometimes it’s an interesting balancing act.”