Thomas Rasmussen, owner of Rasmussen Turntable Repairs
When people embark on a new entrepreneurial adventure, no two paths are the same. Each trailblazer goes at their own pace with different circumstances and obstacles to overcome. We talked to a variety of up-and-coming entrepreneurs, each with their own unique story to tell.
Thomas Rasmussen started his first business doing things like custom woodworking, painting/staining and landscaping for people in his area when he was 16 years old. During college, Rasmussen spent his first summer helping build a house by working on the siding, grading, electrical work and more. Following that summer, Rasmussen began entering internships involving field inspections for public utilities as a Civil Engineer Intern. In his sophomore year of college, he began repairing turntables for fun.
He’s always loved music, and he continues to buy and sell vinyl records, with over 700 in his collection.
Shortly after launching Rasmussen Turntable Repair, he found an audience for the repair service, as he opened it to the public during his junior year of college. Now, he’s conducted turntable repair services for people in Winnipeg, Maine, Florida, The Philippines and more. He shared with us some of the tips he’s learned in launching a small business, what advice his mentors have given him and more.
I learned that asking questions to understand what you don’t know is the best thing you can do. There are many times when I have asked a small questions that turned into a life lesson, business connection, lifelong friend of piece of information to help you at some point down the line. I also learned that one of the best things you can do in life is to never stop learning.”– Thomas Rasmussen
1. Keep a list of wise words you’ve been told over the years and add to it.
One of the earliest life lessons I had instilled in me was from my parents and it was to “never be afraid to ask questions, the worst you can be told is ‘no’.” This has always left me free to wonder about my world and how things I understand operate and to further understand how things work. More often than not, people are willing to answer your questions and offer up as much information as they know.
2. Every decision you make has a consequence.
It is up to you to decide whether it will be good or bad based on your actions. I was often told this before making a decision as a kid and I find myself thinking of it more and more often. Every decision I make, whether big or small, will have some sort of outcome. It’s up to me to determine the best decision to make based on the most likely outcome. I have used this countless times to analyze and think further into situations and further calculate my actions to get the outcome I want.
3. Never be afraid to struggle.
When faced with a situation that I am struggling with, I know that I could immediately ask for advice from others or work to find a solution. I find struggling to be a good thing, as it builds character and has made me think harder to get to solutions. I always relate it to homework—you can teach someone a lesson but it won’t be ingrained into their mind until they have the opportunity to practice the skill and solve the problem themselves. If they are given an answer immediately, they have no need to learn the lesson being taught.
4. What you perceive is your reality.
That may not sound like much but it becomes a larger idea when you apply it to everyone. We see people different from one another. A good example of this is a crowd witnessing the same event, if asked to describe it, every person in the crowd would describe it differently in their own words, even upon seeing the exact same thing. This brought me a great understanding that nothing is the same from one person to the next through how they view and respond to things. I learned that not everything you see is the way you or others think it truly is.
5. You can’t force a relationship.
This piece of advice was shared with me by an older friend in regard to creating and strengthening relationships with others. You need to find a common hobby or interest and build a relationship around it for a stronger bond. I have taken that advice to heart and always do my best to find common ground between people and build relationships around shared interests and ideas. It has brought me many connections over the years.
Did You Know?
NBC News once reached out to Rasmussen to ask about turntables and to help write a consumer guide for them. “I never dreamed that I would ever open for repair to the public, let alone have a writer from a national news source ask for my input and expertise,” Rasmussen said.
A Q&A with Thomas Rasmussen
Did You Know?
Rasmussen has over 700 vinyl A Q&A records in his personal collection!
What were some of the most impactful struggles you had to overcome?
One of the biggest challenges I have encountered was overcoming the fear of what I didn’t know. When I first started, I repaired only one model type. When I opened Rasmussen Turntable Repair to the public, I started to get to know different models and brands. I was afraid, as it was out of my comfort zone for knowledge the engineering was different and the operation was controlled in a different manner. I researched to slowly understand different models and feel more comfortable working on them than I did in the early days.
Another struggle to overcome was the monetary cost of startup and the risk involved when working on higher-end turntables for customers. I would reinvest that money into more tools that I needed to do a wider variety of repairs. I started to take on turntables worth more as well. I knew that if I damaged a customer’s turntable, I would be out the cost for repair or replacement of their turntable. Working on $300 turntables isn’t terrible, but when you have $150 of profit so far and you’re working on a $1000 turntable, it scares you a bit, as I knew the money would be coming from other places in the event of accidental damage. The good news is I have never damaged a customer’s turntable so that initial fear never came true.
The last large struggle I had was teaching myself most of what I know. There were times when schematics were unclear or parts weren’t labeled and I would have to take the best guess based on my gut and knowledge after spending hours researching. There were many times early on when I was fearful that I didn’t have enough knowledge to do a certain repair and I would spend time researching as much as I could. Another hard challenge was teaching myself how to read schematics, troubleshoot small electronics, read various electronic specs and, overall, teach an entire area of knowledge surrounding something I ultimately knew nothing about when I first started.
How did you go about overcoming those challenges?
I did endless research online. A lot of it was learned through online courses, forums, videos, as well as old electronic books posted free online. Taking mechanical engineering courses for my full-time civil engineering job did help with the mechanical understanding of turntables.
Did You Know?
Rasmussen has completed over 200 turntable repairs in the span of a few years, with those repairs being done on 100+ different models!
What are some of your biggest accomplishments regarding Rasmussen Turntable Repair?
My overall biggest accomplishment is to be able to fulfill my dream of wanting to put music out in the world. I always dreamed of being a rock star and playing in a band, but I guess I was gifted by being able to put music back out into the world, in a whole different way than I would have ever imagined. Another one of my biggest accomplishments is that I hear from people all across the globe. I don’t ship turntables, in or out, but have had customers call from all over the United States. It was fun for me as I started getting local calls in the same metro area, then calls from metro areas an hour or two away started to occur, then from Wisconsin and Iowa. Slowly they started to pour in from Montana, Winnipeg, Maine, California, Oregon, Florida, Arkansas and recently the Philippines. It has been exciting and rewarding to see the growth of my business name spread. Lastly, another accomplishment in my eyes was larger companies starting to take note of me. Sumiko Audio moved its headquarters from California to Maple Grove, Minnesota recently and they wanted to hire me full-time as a repair tech. Rega started to hear of me and said that they would make me their local recommendation for any of their products needing repairs that are outside of their warranty period.
Who are your biggest mentors to whom you can attribute some of your successes?
Some of my biggest mentors are both of my parents, Andey and Kim Rasmussen. They give me endless support, push me to always be curious and have raised me to interact in the world I live in as much as I am able. My parents gave me the life skills I needed to be independent and push through hard times. I can’t thank them enough for all that they have given up to get me to where I am and for constantly picking my brain and keeping me curious and appreciative of my world. My wife, Jamie Rasmussen, is another mentor that gives me constant support and is extremely understanding of the sacrifices of time it takes. My wife has always offered endless support and continues to do so. She has been the most patient woman there is between all the travel, money and time I have had to put into this. I am most grateful for her patience with the time as there are many hours a week when I will be unable to do things together due to repairs needing to be done. Other mentors include Cheri and Keith Meyer, as they’ve always given me opportunities to be creative and promoted the idea of working for myself. Cheri and Keith have supported and believed in me through the years and have been a very supportive role model couple. Lastly, my close friends and past roommates have always shown support and patience with me, the audio gear and the lack of space throughout the years working on them.
Rasmussen’s side hustle took off more than he was ever expecting. While he expected to fix a turntable or two within the first year of business, he wouldn’t have ever guessed that he would have completed over 200 unique repairs in the span of a few years. While Rasmussen has made significant strides in both progress and knowledge in the music and repair industries, it’s evident that he’s willing to go the extra mile to better himself and his expertise. As Rasmussen looked to expand his digital presence, he created a website by himself with online tools. Furthermore, he recently added an online Hi-Fi audio gear shop to his website. No matter where Rasmussen takes his business, it’s evident that he’s willing to learn whatever it takes to succeed.
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