CLEVELAND - Off the beaten in Cleveland's Asia Town neighborhood, a revolution of an old art is taking place. Tucked away in Tyler Village off Superior Avenue, the whirring of machines, the pressing of plates and the typical sounds of a factory are in full gear. This is Gotta Groove Records, and it's one of the only vinyl pressing plants in the country.
Inside the nearly 15,000-square foot space, workers made over 1 million records here last year for 1,700 clients.
The man behind the production is owner and president of Gotta Groove Records, Vince Slusarz. What started off as a quest for a new adventure now enters a decade in the making. After leaving a career with a company called Kinetico, Slusarz knew he loved music and records and starting noticing how records were making a comeback.
"At the time, they weren't making new record presses, but within the last two to three years that has changed. You could only get into the business by finding equipment in mothballs somewhere," he said.
And that's exactly what happened. He managed to find a pressing plant in New Jersey called Dynamic Sun Records, a feat that was like finding a needle in a national haystack. The company was going out of business when he bought their presses, some dating back to the 1960s, and moved them to Cleveland in March of 2009.
As a Clevelander through and through, he knew a pressing plant belonged in the city that pioneered music in the early 1950s while being the original leaders of manufacturing.
"I've always wanted to do it in the city because I felt that Cleveland has a rich history of music, and I wanted the people to be a part of that," said Slusarz.
From the beginning, Gotta Grooves Records was producing records for clients craving the quality and musical experience of an LP. His clients cross borders, from Canada to Australia and every corner of the United States, including local artists and big names such as Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and Tim Easton. He's even produced a limited edition album for the jazz group Kinsey Report— a favorite of his dating back to childhood.
"That was a pretty cool moment," he recalls.
Slusarz acquired six pressing machines from the late 1970s, a semi-automatic press from the former Boddie Recording Company--Cleveland's first African-American owned and operated recording studio-- and a newer press.
With a staff of 38 people, Slusarz and his team haven't skipped a beat. Gotta Groove Records is the only plant that does everything from start to finish, from lacquer mastering, record electroforming, record pressing, to label printing and wholesale distribution.
Early on when there was just a few on the team, Slusarz did it all, with a lot of trial and error along the way.
"Now I leave it up to people who know what they are doing because they do it every day," laughs Slusarz.
When Slusarz first opened the plant, there were about 15 pressing plants in the country. Now there are over 25 pressing plants across the country as vinyl records continue to become more popular.
While the competition and industry continue to change, one thing has remained constant in this labor of love: his commitment to music and his city.
"It feels great to be part of Cleveland's current scene and bring manufacturing here while getting to know the artists in the city," Slusarz said.