When Ian Chini was announced as the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional of the Year, he got a stamp of approval from Tim Carlson, who introduced him.
“I can’t say enough that’s good about Ian,” Carlson, owner of Culpeper’s Studio C Photograhy, said at the chamber’s annual meeting. “As anyone who has had any interaction with Ian knows, he’s as sharp as they come, and outstanding in everything he does—in communicating, the service he provides, his work ethic, you name it. He’s destined for great things.”
Chini has owned and operated I&L’s DJing Co. since 2004. He has grown his business from running it as a hobby during middle and high school, to a full-time business covering Central and Northern Virginia that provides photo-booth rentals, live sound and sound system reinforcement, and customized lighting design, as well as professional disc jockey services.
Chini, 24, was selected out of 10 nominees, meeting the under-40 qualification for the award by a long shot.
Other criteria required that the winner had demonstrated creativity, innovation, character, consistency and excellence in their field, as well as contributed to the community’s well-being through their work or volunteerism.
“Ian has become the ‘go-to’ guy in the area for professional production service, from sound to lighting to overall technical direction,” the chamber’s award nomination said of Chini.
It noted Chini’s work on the chamber’s membership and marketing committee, and said he “donates time and services to Relay for Life, the Humane Society, March of Dimes, and so many more” groups in the community.
“I was really honored to get the award,” Chini said in an interview Friday. “I love Culpeper and love working with everyone here—I’m passionate about what I do and see great things for the future.”
Chini attended Epiphany Catholic School in Culpeper through sixth grade and then Floyd T. Binns Middle School. There, when he was 14 years old, Chini started doing DJ work and began his company with a friend, Louis Mairs, who still helps with technical work.
While participating in the journalism program at Eastern View High School, Chini developed a passion for photography.
“I found it was something I really enjoyed—it provided a way for me to meet a lot of great people and get to know my community in a unique way,” Chini said.
He did some photography work for the Culpeper Times, and after his 2013 high school graduation, arranged an internship with the Times while he attended Germanna Community College. Taking advantage of dual enrollment, Chini earned an associate’s degree in business, finishing in 2015.
The schooling helped him learn about the formal and legal aspects of running a business, as well as basic bookkeeping and accounting, he said. But by this time, Chini was already a successful businessman, having purchased another business, which significantly boosted his client base.
“At about the time I graduated from high school, I had the opportunity to purchase another individual’s company, Nightlight Entertainment,” Chini said. “Dave McDonald wanted to sell, was ready to get out of the business, so I absorbed that into mine, which was a springboard into doing it all full time.”
Since he was 18 years old, Chini said his parents, Ron and Debbie Chini, had to co-sign on the loan, but it was in his name. That has long since been paid off.
“My parents have always been very aware and supportive of my business career,” Chini said. “They have really done a lot to fill in any holes and provide help wherever it’s needed.”
Chini’s dad is a biomedical engineer whose work takes him to locations all over Northern Virginia. Debbie Chini had a career in health care, but is now retired. Ian Chini is their only child.
Chini has continued working for the Culpeper Times, in addition to running his business and volunteering in the community.
Each year, his DJ business has grown in revenue and the number of events it serves. Though Chini is the only full-time employee, he maintains a pool of contract workers employed on larger events.
“Depending on the size and scale of the event, I sometimes have anywhere up to seven people on an event job site,” he said.
Chini expressed thanks for the chamber’s recognition of his efforts.
“I’m very fortunate to be doing work I enjoy and working with great people,” he said.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Throughout the holiday season, the Star-Exponent has published a series of articles highlighting winners of the 2019 Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce awards, announced at its 105th annual meeting in November.
The paper has profiled Ed Dalrymple, recipient of the L.B. Henretty Outstanding Citizen Award, as well as the recipient of Nonprofit of the Year, Services to Abused Families Inc., or SAFE. The Agribusiness of the Year, Cole’s Hill Farm, was featured on Dec. 8.
On Dec. 15, an article was published about Culpeper Home Services, Small Business of the Year winner. UVA Community Credit Union was featured on Dec. 22 as the Large Business of the Year, and Entrepreneur of the Year, Kathy Campbell, was the focus of an article printed Dec. 29.
The final installment of the series, which appears in today’s paper, is about the 2019 Young Professional of the Year, Ian Chini.