Speakboxx combines vintage, high-tech

Business ideas run in the family

If vintage, retro and classic are styles that ring your bell, but you still insist on high-tech sound quality, then Luke Nance, 23, has found his target consumer in you.

SpeakBoxx, a new concept in old-fashioned boom boxes, is about to hit the market and Nance, a Hood River native, is the creative spark behind the retro-fitted speaker system.

“I’m a music freak. I wanted to put out a product that is cool and the best possible sound,” said Nance, who got the brainstorm to repurpose vintage suitcases into portable sound systems, all using high quality digital amp technology to guide the sound quality.

“The digital amp I’ve chosen produces the rich, full sound of the old tube amps,” said Nance. “Plus, these become a cool piece of furniture for inside use, but can be taken anywhere.”

Nance looks for suitcases in antique stores that have character. He then recycles high-quality speaker components into his creative designs. Nance’s hidden secret, though, comes from his use of one particular digital amp that took him six months of research to find.

“The amp is about the size of a deck of cards, but the quality is great. I also try to repurpose as much of the original speakers as possible. This is all about creating the least amount of waste as possible. I guarantee all of the components.”

Nance plans on offering “custom” portable sound systems for people who want to turn their favorite toolboxes or old steamer trunks into stereo systems.

“The systems can run sound for iPods, Blackberries, iPads — basically anything that has a 3.5mm headphone jack.”

Nance’s SpeakBoxxes can be designed as mono or stereo systems and can include potentiometers to eliminate buzz from speakers. Nance is even looking at building guitar amps into vintage cases.

“I come from a very entrepreneurial family. I’ve learned to be as self-sufficient as possible and to find small-business ideas,” said Nance, who also owns a website design business. Handy, since his SpeakBoxxes will be sold primarily through his own website, SpeakBoxx.com, and social media referrals.

Nance returned to Hood River recently after five years in Hawaii working as a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef at the high-end Kukio club. His sister Maria still runs her own business there producing “Kona Henna” — a top-quality, temporary tattoo product.

Nance and his father, Walt Nance, of Jack-of-All-Trades, are working together on two additional products which are still in the “confidential” stage — all while keeping the family handyman business hopping. And, according to Nance, there may be a food cart business in the near future as well.

While prices will vary for large or custom Speakboxxes, Nance hopes to keep the standard vintage suitcase models priced around $225-$250 each. The added bonus? No one will be wearing your same boom box atop their shoulders at that next beach party.

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