Dan and Barb (Cohlinger) VanLue relocated to the Syracuse area, with their families, in the early 1960′s. They both attended and graduated from Syracuse High School. Dan worked for Wawasee Electronics during his high school years. He worked on CB radios. He eventually became the President of Wawasee Electronics, which at that time, had approximately 80 employees, mostly women. Tom Utley was his business partner and the Sales Manager at Wawasee Electronics. An offer from Radio Shack came along in the mid-late 70′s, and the VanLues opened their first store. Radio Shack was new at franchising and there was much to be learned. So, in 1979, Dan went to work for himself. He opened a repair business, where he would fix/repair just about anything electronic. Barb made CB accessory parts at their home in Syracuse. The summer of 79, VanLues moved into the building at 502 N Huntington, which was owned by a businessman from Rochester, it had previously been a gas (filling) station. The VanLue’s oldest son Jeremy, had worked there at one time. In the meantime, the VanLues also purchased a business in town, called CJ’s Melody Center, from owner Carol Neat. During this time, the RV industry was in need of custom size electronics and came to Dan for technical help. In the 80′s -90′s, as vans, RV’s etc were being built with VCRs, built-in amplifiers and antennas, they looked to Dan to build the wire harnesses, as well as, design and build the amplifiers,etc. Carriage in Millersburg was one of their customers. The VanLues dabbled in records, tapes and video rental over the years. Joined Radio Shack again in 1991, with 2 partners and took over the franchise as sole owner on April 1, 1993. At this point Dan decided to step away from the repair business, as electronics became “disposable”. The VanLues now have 3 stores…Nappanee – opened in 2001, Goshen – 2007. VanLue’s Radio Shack franchise was awarded the Pinnacle Award for Top Associate Store, which is the highest honor a store can receive.
Barb has been a part of the business from the beginning to the present. She has done everything from assemble parts to bookkeeping. She admits that technology has definitely made it easier, she remembers how everything was once done on paper, by hand. She also added that each of their children have a one time or another worked at one of their 3 stores.
Pictured in their new/old location at 502 N Huntington St., Syracuse, are Barb and Dan behind the counter and customer is Beverly Maresh, wife of Jack Maresh, who was a partner at Wawasee Electric. (Just a coincidence that Beverly came in during our interview.)
Shop small/local business. Thank you VanLues for deciding to own a business in Syracuse, IN.