Small Business of the Month: Rat Pak Mobile DJs
Childhood piano lessons from his grandmother and a 6th grade buddy who taught him to break dance brought music to Nicholas Ribordy’s world at a young age.
He’s kept the beat ever since, this month landing the next best thing to a Grammy Award: the May Greater Lafayette Commerce Small Business of the Month Award, for his success as founder and owner of Rat Pak Mobile DJs (www.ratpakdjs.com, 765/742-6710).
Ribordy’s Nickname: DJ Powder
Known for great entertainment, splashes of humor and lots of great music, Rat Pak Mobile DJs is all about a good time, says Ribordy, better known by his nickname, DJ Powder.
He keeps things hopping every Friday night at Where Else? bar, and Rat Pak takes the fun, too, to private parties, weddings, celebrations, other clubs and numerous venues in the region.
While Ribordy didn’t take to the piano lessons as much as Grandma Lesta Ribordy might have wanted him to, “I got a foundation in learning how to follow a beat,” he says. And even though she plays at church and for weddings rather than his club scene, “Grandma is proud of me for being a DJ,” he says. “I’m blown away by that. She brags about me all the time.”
Competitive Break Dancer in the 90s
It was friend Matt Coddington who first took him to the local dance hall in LaPorte—his hometown is Door Village, Ind., where he grew up on a grain farm—when the two were 6th graders. “He was a break dancer, and he taught me,” Ribordy says. From about 1992 to 1999, Ribordy danced competitively. He bought his first turntable and mixer in 1997.
During a 1999 Cincinnati competition, “I felt my spine move,” he says. He didn’t need surgery or treatment. “But I never danced competitively again. It was more a scare than anything, so I took a safer approach to music by DJ-ing.”
That was the same year he graduated from high school and headed to Vincennes University, where started being a DJ at house parties, and then a fraternity brother’s wedding.
Moved to Lafayette in 2003
After graduating, he came to Purdue in 2003 for more studies, bringing his music equipment along.
“I DJ-ed all around, and for the last seven years I’ve been the resident DJ at Where Else? on Fridays,” he says. “I sell and promote the true image of a DJ. When you book my company, you will get a DJ you would expect to see on TV. And I easily have a million tracks right now.”
Last year, he earned kudos from Tim Brouk, arts reporter at the Journal and Courier, who called him the “Best DJ in the city.”
A Family Man, Too
Ribordy is now 32 and sole owner of the business—with a lot of support from his wife, Amanda Ribordy. “She’s been a huge part of the business,” he says. In March, their first child was born, a son they named Madsen.
He also credits Shannon Burton, locally known as Steady B, who taught him to DJ. “He let me watch him. He took me under his wing, and we’re still good friends.”
Ribordy hires subcontractors as he needs them for bookings. “I pretty much go where anyone wants me to go—Tippecanoe County, Indianapolis, the Chicago-land area.”
Services are available by the hour or in packages. “We pride ourselves on a job well done and entertaining a crowd,” he says. “We are diverse. We don’t just DJ.”
Serves the Community, Too
Giving to the local nonprofits is part of the business, too, he says. “That’s really important.”
Each year he helps the March of Dimes “in remembrance of my sister, Leah.” He’s also contributed sound for the Hunger Hike and supported United Way, the Suicide Prevention Walk, Rupert’s Kids, Home with Hope and others.
Lafayette is a great place for his business, he says. “It’s a very youthful community. A lot of alumni come back to Purdue to get married and need entertainment, and it’s constantly growing.”
The Small Business of the Month is proudly sponsired by Lafayette Savings Bank