Many businesses get started in basements.
Working in modest surroundings offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to see if what they are doing is successful before renting expensive office space.Randy Thornton and Bryan Hofheins, partners in Non-Stop Productions, 915 W. 100 South, eventually came out of their basement and now are competing with companies in New York City and Los Angeles to provide music for television commercials and programs.
Competing with the "big boys" isn't easy, but they apparently are making inroads in the music industry from a renovated church, the old 15th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Hofheins and Thornton obtained with the help of a $300,000 loan from Deseret Certified Development Corp.
They used the money to purchase the building and do some remodeling, including a new roof. (See accompanying story on Page M2.)
Undaunted by stiff competition from big and heavily financed companies on both coasts, the two men, who are quite at home working in open-collared sport shirts and walking shoes, are providing the bulk of promotion music for the American Broadcasting Co.
They also do work for the Fox Network, the Columbia Broadcasting System and the National Broadcasting Co. One of their current undertakings is a role in the $100 million promotion campaign for Disney Productions. They've come a long way from their modest basement beginnings.
Their hard work has paid off: They won an Emmy for producing all of the music for the 1988 Winter Olympics television coverage in Calgary. They won a second Emmy for their production of the promotion music for Monday Night Football, which features the song "All My Rowdy Friends" sung by Hank Williams Jr.
Last year, Thornton and Hofheins won a gold medal at the International Film and TV Festival in New York City, and two weeks ago they were honored at the annual convention of broadcast, promotion and marketing executives in Las Vegas for their production of the Monday Night Football music.
Born in Salt Lake City, Hofheins and his family later moved to Provo. He attended Brigham Young University where he majored in premed, figuring that if he kept up an interest in music he would have to move to Los Angeles, since Utah isn't the place to earn much money playing music.
He got a call from the Osmond family to be part of a road band and once played before 60,000 people in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. In 1974, the Osmonds decided to build their recording studio in Orem, and between playing there for television shows and on the road, he decided staying in school was too much for him. (He is nine hours short of obtaining a degree.)
Hofheins headed for Los Angeles to play for television shows, and when the Osmonds went country, the need for brass instrument players was zero, which brings us up to the time he and Thornton formed Non-Stop.
Thornton was born in Las Vegas, but his father worked in a bank and moved to Salt Lake City in 1974. He started at BYU in 1975 and met Hofheins while playing in the Synthesis Band. Like Hofheins, Thornton played the trombone.
He served a mission to Sweden for the LDS Church and graduated from BYU with a degree in music performance. His first job was playing in the Mexico City Orchestra, and he stayed there for one year.
Thornton kept in touch with Hofheins, who told him there were music-related openings at the Osmond Studio. They worked together until the bulk of the work at the Osmond Studio began to dry up. Hofheins and Thornton found themselves playing "gigs" in several places, including the pit orchestra at Pioneer Memorial Theatre.
Sitting in the pit gave them plenty of chance to talk about their futures, and they didn't like what they saw.
So, in October 1981 they started Non-Stop in Hofheins' basement. One of their first clients was Skaggs Telecommunications Services, which needed some music produced. It gave Thornton and Hofheins a chance to get access to some potential national clients.
They produced their first jingle and did some other jingles for local clients, and their success prompted them to package some music for other markets. They produced $50,000 worth of music and went to Dallas to a trade show, but they didn't firm up any deals.
Both men admitted "sweating out the bills," but a short time later, Non-Stop sold music packages to KUSA in Denver and KTRV in Boise and quietly started to add other clients, including producing music for television shows.
In 1984 they did some Christmas promotion music for ABC, and they have been doing the bulk of that network's promotion music since.
Because some of ABC's officials went to other networks, Hofheins and Thornton got some calls from them at their new jobs. Now Non-Stop has produced music for all of the television networks.
After three years in the basement, Non-Stop moved into an office at 3532 S. West Temple and wanted to create a big-time image - a difficult task because Salt Lake City isn't known for its music production prowess.
Hofheins and Thornton paid for telephones in Manhattan and Los Angeles, and a device forwarded their calls to Salt Lake City. Everything worked fine until one man, thinking Non-Stop had an office in New York, wanted to deliver a contract and was shocked to find that he would have to fly to Salt Lake City for the delivery.
Now Hofheins and Thornton have an office in New York and in two months will open an office in Los Angeles.
While on West Temple, Non-Stop rented studio space, including the studio in the old church once owned by Sunn Classic Pictures. They later bought the church with the DCDC loan, some bank money and 10 percent of Non-Stop funds.
The main studio is the old gymnasium, which has a floating floor. The most up-to-date recording equipment is found in the church, and the chapel soon will be turned into a second studio. Besides the offices for the 18 full-time employees, there is plenty of space for the subsidiary organizations.
They are L.A. East, which operates the recording studios; Airus Records, which has three releases on tapes and is coming out with two more soon; and Perimeter Distribution Inc., the record distribution company.
So, the next time you're watching television and hear some music in a promotion spot for a certain show, you'll know there is a good chance it was produced by two trombone players who are glad to be out of the basement.