I’ve been looking forward to interviewing someone on the equipment side of the vinyl industry and thankfully Callie Stroby of VPI Industries in Cliffwood, NJ was up for it. I absolutely love VPI. Their products are beautiful, perform amazingly well, and the family story of the company makes them easy to love and want to support.
Callie’s main job at VPI is building the Shinola Runwell turntables. She also builds motors, tonearms and whatever else is needed as far as their turntables are concerned. According to a recent Facebook post she is a ‘VPI Hero’ and I believe it. In her free time you can find her at concerts which is her favorite thing to do when not at work, besides of course spending time with her family.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
A little bit of luck and a lifelong love of music and vinyl. I’ve always loved music. I played a few instruments (tried to anyways) but never actually worked in the industry. I recently moved to the area and saw an ad on a career site building turntables. It sounded pretty awesome and I never thought I’d get hired but here I am.
What is a day in the life like?
I wake up, prepare for the day, come into work and start making tables or whatever we need. We have a lot of events and special projects we do. Sometimes during or after work we go to the VPI House. It’s a beautiful house with different listening rooms that have great setups and lots and lots of vinyl. We also go out for food or have it catered to us a lot. Besides that I spend time with my family. Go to sleep and start again.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
I got to attend Capital Audio Fest this year. I’ve been to conventions like that before but never got to work at one. It was a great experience. I got to meet a lot of interesting people and it was fun being with my coworkers in a different environment than what we’re used to. I learned a lot about the industry at CAF, I would love to do more audio shows in the future.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
There are a lot of tiny little parts and little tools we use. I love learning how to do everything but my hands are sore a lot. That’s my biggest complaint, and it’s not so bad.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
It’s a lot of fun but also a lot of work. If you’re really interested in the industry, go for it.
If you have the passion and a willingness to learn, you’ll do great.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes. My aunt gave me a Stray Cats record and a Go-Go’s record when I was about eight and I thought they were the coolest things ever. As a teenager I had a fairly large collection, mostly punk, but it met an untimely demise when my grandmother saw some inappropriate album covers. I’ve got a bit of a smaller collection now but it’s consistently growing. I love the sound of vinyl, the artwork and everything about vinyl.
‘What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
I’m excited that vinyl has made a comeback over the last few years, but I think the quality of the vinyl pressing has gone downhill. Some companies still value good quality, but some just don’t seem to anymore. I also worry about kids growing up solely on digital audio. If they’re never exposed to analog, they’ll never know what they’re missing. We need young people to keep the industry alive.
Tell me more about what you’re listening to right now:
If I had to choose one favorite band, it’d be The Beatles. I’ve been on a big David Bowie kick recently. I don’t have one favorite genre, I like classic rock, punk, new wave, alternative, oldies and more. It depends on my mood.
VPI Industries: @vpiindustries
VPI House: @vpihouse