One would expect Wing Productions, a Manhattan-based event service that provides DJ services, videography, lighting, equipment rental and more, to be headed by a seasoned professional who has been in the entertainment industry for years. But the company’s innovation and quality of service comes from Landon Wingerson, the business’ founder and owner and a K-Stater.
This spring, Wingerson was a junior studying entrepreneurship. He said he has been interested in entrepreneurship since he was a child.
“I was always coming up with my money-making schemes, or I’d see a problem and then I’d be like, ‘Well why don’t we fix it this way and make some money while doing it?’” Wingerson said. “I actually started selling gum when I was in middle school because I saw a demand, and I was like, ‘Everyone’s always asking for a piece of gum,’ so I did this extreme couponing and I’d get free gum and sell it to students for a quarter and charge interest.”
The turn toward music and DJ work, Wingerson said, came when he was in middle school. The DJ for one of the school’s dances pulled out of the event, and the school’s options were to find a replacement DJ or cancel the dance.
“I stepped up and said, ‘Well, I can make a playlist on my iPod and we could use the school speakers,’” Wingerson said.
After that first dance, Wingerson said he had a lot of fun as a DJ, and he was asked to DJ his school’s dances more often, enough that other local high schools started asking about his services.
The shift toward a bona fide business happened when Wingerson was a senior at Smith Center High School in Smith Center, Kansas, when he said he realized he could make some money with a DJ service. A business teacher prompted him to start spreading the word about his business.
“Senior year is when one of my business teachers told me, ‘You should really think about this, make some business cards and kind of spread your name,'” Wingerson said. “I had no idea; my last name’s Wingerson, so I was like, ‘I don’t know, WingerMix I guess,’ So I made this real cheesy logo, it was really not that great, but I started cold-calling people, just high schools. … I kind of did all the bookings my senior year of high school, and once I got into my freshman year of college, that’s when they actually would all happen.”
Wingerson graduated from high school in 2015 and worked as the sole employee of WingerMix for two years, attending class at Kansas State and traveling to events across the state to DJ. Then, he said he wanted to do more.
“I realized you could make good money at DJing, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but I really liked what I was doing and I liked doing events and planning them and doing everything behind the scenes, running them,” Wingerson said. “So I decided, well, what else do I like that I can contribute?”
Wingerson said he had past experience with videography, and he looked at the other services that clients need for their events: photography, photo booths, lighting and more.
“I was like, ‘I’ll just be kind of a one-stop shop for all that, make some more money,’” Wingerson said. “I’m really into videography and DJing.”
His business expanded, and on March 13, 2017, WingerMix became Wing Productions, according to the company website.
Running a business and attending college came with its struggles, and Wingerson said he is taking a year off from K-State.
“What I really struggled with and what led to me actually taking a break is that I got too busy and I started choosing my business over school,” Wingerson said. “I was skipping class to meet with clients. I was putting off homework. It was so hard balancing between having a social life and getting good grades to stay in school and then at the same time making sure your quality of service was still up.”
With about a year of coursework left to complete for his bachelor’s degree, Wingerson said he wants to finish his degree, but said putting the business he loves on hold would be difficult.
“A year is not that long, but when you have to set aside your hobby for that long or what you like doing, it seems like a lot longer,” Wingerson said. “I would love to finish, I guess we’ll see what happens.”
In the meantime, Wingerson has some ideas for Wing Productions going forward. One challenge he said he faced as a student entrepreneur was being the only employee. Now, Wingerson said he has started hiring on more people so the company can book anywhere from two to five events on a single day.
Another business prospect: planning Wing Production’s own events.
“I think I’d actually like to move into more of the show, where you’re actually putting on shows, events,” Wingerson said. “I actually just talked to someone up at Haymaker [Hall], and I’ve seen it in the past done is where these companies come in and they put on this huge DJ show. … I think that would be cool to do at a lot of different college campuses. If it’s at the beginning of the year, for where students can come and they can meet each other.”
A third goal, Wingerson said, would be to have a Wing Productions DJ opening for main artists at concerts.
“I think that would be really cool to be a part of; you get some good social networking, meet some pretty high-up people with that, too,” Wingerson said.
When asked if he had advice for other entrepreneurs starting out, Wingerson said sometimes his friends ask him how he did it, and he says, “I just did it.”
“It sounds hard and simple at the same time, but it’s risk,” Wingerson said. “That’s the whole thing with business is taking that jump, and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.
“I worked really hard that whole summer, spent every dollar in my bank account that summer on some speakers and went from there,” Wingerson continued. “Just invest in it. See where it goes. If nothing happens to it, don’t worry about it too much, just keep trying, try something else. There’s a lot of failure in entrepreneurship, and that’s something you have to deal with a lot.”