Biz to Biz

Day Jobs We’ve Known and Loved!

Biz in All Biz  

 Locale:  USATCA aka The United States Army Training Armor.

 What happened at Ft. Knox Koppel Service Club? Attendees witnessed how Dennis did another sort of basic training… some Blues training… with renown guitarist Phil Upchurch. Lessons from the maker of the hit, “You Can’t Sit Down” no doubt helped Dennis to earn some interesting accolades from the Army. But, Bandleader Chandler had already learned the basics of how “to stand and deliver”. How so? When? The previous couple of years had him doing gigs with his group called, “The Pilgrims”… as they served as the houseband for the Detroit/ Windsor radio station powerhouse CKLW.  The band had to back many musical acts. Particularly playful were the ones whose records were beginning to get airplay (can you spell Hitsville and Motown)… but did NOT have backup for live performances).

So Pvt. Chandler knew he had to again play the role of a musical chameleon for the Army and “stand and deliver”.  And that Dennis did.  His efforts were appreciated and offers came for Dennis to do duty… musical duty. He was asked to tour with the USO. But, he declined and chose to return to Ohio for OCS (Officer Candidate School).  BTW: Those awards were from when Dennis performed at “The Ft. Knox Level of the Second Annual US Army Entertainment Contest”. He was given the “First Place Instrumental Soloist”& “First Place Specialty Group”.   I would like to mention here… That last award was thanks in no small part to the talented guitarist and singer, Wayne Hritz. He co-incidentally came from Cleveland and the two later reunited back home. Besides playing in various bands together, Wayne played matchmaker, too. He introduced us to one another. How? While they were making music, of course. 

Back to ‘bout biz biz. Not only did Dennis listen to others about show business… but about business, business, too. With his experience being moved far afield, from music to the military.

Chameleon Chandler learned the meaning of the axiom, “Make the most of any situation”. For example, during his Fort Knox Basic Training… he learned to apply himself, winning numerous other accolades NON- music… including one for the “High Individual Proficiency Test”… and as an “Outstanding Tanker”, etc.  Dennis did go on to Officer Candidate School, earning a commission as Second Lieutenant plus additional accolades including the “Commandant’s Award” (inscribed, “with distinction OCS Class XIV”) … and being elected Class President… which was Music to his ears. 

But Back To Business… The Subject

That military experience served to make Dennis want to be astute in many ways. Upon returning to Cleveland from the service, he learned to be smart with money, too. How? Working in the field of banking: 3 banks in 13 years time. He started as a teller, and then served as a Management Trainee in programs that carried him up their learning ladder to finish as an AVP / Loan Officer. Besides time spent as a banker he also spent time as a teacher for 20 years. To explain, at first when the bank enrolled him in a Dale Carnegie Sales Course, he attended as a student. After being told by his teacher that he had “earned all the awards there are” Dennis was made an Assistant Instructor. With the guidance of instructor Jack Gubkin, Dennis bloomed as a teacher.

A few years later, this mentor made him his assistant again, but it was under unfortunate circumstances for Gubkin. It was while Jack was being wheeled into open-heart surgery. Ed Combs, then executive director for Sales & Marketing Executives asked Jack whom he would authorize to teach his copyrighted “Persuasive Communication” course (which was to begin the next night). He said he “would only permit former Carnegie assistant Chandler” to take up his teaching torch. Dennis did and when Jack couldn’t return that semester the student became master, so to speak: Dennis inherited his helm. As sole Sales Training Instructor at Cleveland SME, Dennis taught his own Basic Sales Training course there for 18 years. Also at Akron’s SME he did an “Advanced Selling Course” along with his “Basic Sales Training”. Plus many Fortune 500 firms contracted him to do in-house seminars.

We’ll jump ahead here to the late ’80s and early ’90s, that’s when Dennis did Membership Development at Cleveland’s Chamber of Commerce,aka The Growth Association. Being brought onboard by then Executive Vice President K. Michael Benz was interesting for Dennis. Why? Because before Benz started COSE (“The Council of Smaller Enterprises”, a division of the chamber) he also was a student of Gubkin’s.

Speaking of Chambers of Commerce

After doing a Membership Directory for the city of Cleveland, it came to the attention of Ron Beers, President of Community Communications (headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama), that Dennis could do other books for other cities. He was tapped to do books for Cleveland, Columbus and Canton. Community development books, that is. He was project manager for the respective chamber-of-commerce-sponsored books.

Dennis particularly enjoyed being Project Manager for the “Columbus Celebrates the Millennium” book. Why? Because he got to know a most dynamic individual, Ivan Gilbert. “As president of the Columbus Historical Society, (co-sponsor of the book along with the chamber), Mr. Gilbert was one wonderful gentleman to work with”, Dennis said. Other mutual interests tie the two together and they continue to communicate.

But, What Are Friends For?

Let’s go back to the late 70’s and early 80’s. That’s when Dennis first was able to really marry his love of music with his business accumen. It was while he was working at a-Camelot-of-a job at the Gibson Guitar Company, in Sales & Marketing of course! (Plus musician-Dennis got to perform in their “Gibson Guitar Greats Showcase Series”.)

What was Dennis’ biggest accomplishment at Gibson then? He feels it was getting Gibson to make The B.B.King / Lucille production line model… Why?… Because he vowed back in 1965 to B.B., his dear friend, teacher, mentor, a man whom Dennis calls his “Second Father”, that he “would be the one to get Gibson to make King his own signature guitar”. He was (the one) and the guitar debuted in 1980.

But how did it all happen?… read all about it… by going to the page that reads “B.B. King – Lucille”.