They’re not yet 33 years old, but they’ve established themselves in Marquette as savvy businessmen who know how to party and how to continually give back to the community. Quite a combination. They started their hugely successful business Double Trouble DJs when they were only 18 years old, and last year (with Pat’s fiancee Alyssa Pilot) they opened up Digs, a bar/restaurant downtown that’s become a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. So who are these guys? And what makes them tick?
There are plenty of laughs here, but there’s also profound advice about business and life.
BC: You’re twins but who was actually born first?
Pat: I kicked him out. I had a longer time with Mom.
Bill: I was born first. I’m definitely the elder child. By two minutes.
BC: What were you like as boys?
Pat: We were very outgoing. We liked to talk to adults.
Bill: I would say Pat was significantly more outgoing. I was actually pretty introverted when I was younger. But in high school I started to come out of my shell when I got involved in theater.
Pat: I was on Student Council since the second grade. I liked to be in the limelight.
BC: Were you mischievous as kids?
Pat: Bill was way more mischievous when we we were young. Now, when I turned 18, that was my wild time.
Bill: You have to understand we went to a Catholic boarding school.
BC: So you were good boys?
Bill: (They laugh) I totally pulled the wool over my parents’ eyes all the time. I learned that if you played within the box and stayed within the lines, you could get away with a ton of things. I mean, we got good grades and all. I once told my parents I was going to a Boy Scout meeting and instead I went to a concert in Detroit…(They laugh)
Pat: Our mother found out, though, and she was not pleased, and he was, like, “I already went to the concert. What are you going to do?”
Bill: I walked in and said “I’m sure I’m grounded for two weeks. What do you need me to do around the house?” That was the moment she thought, “Oh, they’re turning into adults” because I knew the consequences, and I just accepted it–
Pat: The juice was worth the squeeze. (They laugh)
BC: Did you fight..,physically…as brothers?
Bill: Oh yeah. It wasn’t all the time. Five, six, seven months would go by, and little things would boil up. Like, we had to wear sport coats to school, and Pat couldn’t find his one morning and tried taking mine–
Pat: Naah, it was mine, and to this day I’ll state it was mine–
Bill: It was not his–
Pat: It was real tight on Bill.
Bill: I cold-cocked him right in the face!
Pat: The thing is, if you weren’t wearing a sport coat, you got Saturday detention for ten hours. You just had to rake leaves all-l-l-l day.
BC: So you hit him hard?
Bill: Oh yeah, it was one and done. He knew what was up.
Pat: Yeah, right.
BC: You guys went to Northern. Who was the better student of the two of you?
Pat: Bill. He graduated in four and half years with, like, two and a half degrees. I graduated in, like, nine years with one degree.
Bill: It was actually three degrees before he got his first one.
Pat: But the whole point is, when Bill got out of grad school with $180,000 in student debt–
Bill: Not that much!
Pat: –we still made the same amount of money. (They laugh)
Bill: We both got degrees in different things.
Pat: We have different mentalities in what we believe education is. Bill is, like “Go to class.” (Bill, incidentally is NMU’s Director of Theater). But I think that we push all these kids in high school to go to college immediately, and tell them you have to do that because that’s the way you can have a good life. In the Fifties and Sixties, absolutely, you got out of college and you got a $100,000 a year job because you had a college degree. These days we force these kids to go to college, a lot of them drop out after two years, and they don’t know what to do. They would have been better off getting a trade. Sure, lots of kids need to go to college but there are trade schools for kids who could be diesel mechanics. Good jobs. Diesel mechanics, you can make 150 grand a year.
Bill: Heating and cooling? You can go and make six figures. HVAC.
BC: All right, let’s move on. How about your favorite memory when you were a child.
Pat: Not our tenth birthday.
Bill: That was probably our worst moment.
BC: So let’s hear about your tenth birthday.
Pat: Bill locked me in our bedroom. We were having this huge roller blade birthday party that Mom had planned at our house–
Bill: No, you did this to me!
Pat: No, no! You locked me in the bedroom and you said, “We’re twins, I’m older. My birthday starts first!” (They laugh)
Bill: For two minutes.
Pat: And I couldn’t get out, and I was locked in there for, like, a half hour, and then Mom finally came and got me, and I was crying–
Bill: But the next thing is, Pat invited our friend Sean, who showed up at the party with one Super Soaker for a present. One Super Soaker to a twins’ birthday party! Who does that?
Pat: So I said, “I guess the soaker is mine.”
Bill: And Sean says, “I just figured one of you would be the sprayer and the other one would be getting sprayed.” (We laugh)
BC: All right, so that’s the worst moment. Let’s get back to your favorite time.
Bill: I would say Boy Scouts.
Pat: I would say Boy Scouts, too. We were in Boy Scouts until we were 18.
Bill: We were very lucky. We were in a Boy Scout troop with 80 kids. That’s massive in scouting. And it was a boy-led troop and they let us plan everything, and that’s where we got our skills so young to start a business. I planned a Camporee for our area and it was like planning a massive event, all these organizations–
Pat: Seventy troops show up.
Bill: It was the first profitable event they had had in, like, ten years.
Pat: I would say Boy Scouts, but I’d also say Camp Sancta Maria. It was a Catholic boys summer camp.We ran that camp for a long time. We started there as kids when we were eight years old. But once we turned 14, we became junior counselors, and we’d go for, like, six weeks very summer. At 18, I became the assistant waterfront director, and Bill started developing programs–
Bill: I actually developed the whole program.
Pat: At 21, I was the waterfront director, I was the lifeguard instructor–
Bill: He installed a $300,000 grant.
Pat: Yeah, I had a $300,000 grant to renovate the waterfront, so I did all that. New docks, boats, kayaks, sailboats and all that. Then Bill took a camping program that was nonexistent and did a full outdoor cooking program, outdoor camping, we did trips…
Bill: Everything came to the UP because I was at Northern so we started going to Grand Island, down the Au Train…
Pat: And these kids would come for two weeks at a time, they were 12, 13, 14, 15, and we’d take them on a six day trip backpacking in the camp. So we did all that, and then I became a programming director at the camp. And then Bill went to grad school (at Florida State).
BC: So you were busy planning things and running things when you were younger. Were you cool kids?
Bill: In high school we were not. In high school we just went to any group.
Pat: We hung out with everybody from the nerds to the goths to the theater kids.
Bill: Listen, I was in the theater and the band so…(He laughs) But in our senior year, we kind of came into our own. We planned our prom down at the Rooster Tail in Detroit. That was our first event, planning it. That’s what sparked the idea for Double Trouble–
Pat: There was the prom committee–me, Bill, two other dudes, and then 17 girls (They laugh) on the committee. They were 800 kids in the class. My dad gave us the advice–He said if all the girls agree on something, just nod your head and say “Yeah.” So the girls went to this teen club and there was this DJ at this club, and the girls said, “We want this DJ! He’s awesome!” And we said all right. He costs $3500. In 2003. That’s a lot of money. We don’t even charge that now for a high school dance. But he was on the radio and you assume he must know what he’s doing. So we book him. It’s a huge, beautiful club on the river, the cocktail hour is outside, dinner’s upstairs, and then downstairs you go for dessert. It’s beautiful, the lights all lit up…And then this guy pulls up in what looks like a ’94 Honda Civic, pulls his subs out of the back of the car–
Bill: The speakers are blown…No lights. He’s wearing jeans and a T-shirt…
Pat: And this is prom! Everybody’s wearing tuxedos. You’re thinking this is gonna be great, and this guy had no music. Didn’t listen to us about a playlist, didn’t have anything that we wanted to hear. And we were thinking, “We paid this guy all this money!” And me and Bill are saying, “We could have been better DJs! Dude, we should be DJs!”
BC: So that was the start of Double Trouble.
Bill: It also came out of our love for music. When we were kids, our dad would ask us when music was playing, “Who’ singing this? What album is this on?” So we knew music. So we looked at each other and said, “We should do this!” and we started telling people that we were going to start a DJ company and call it Double Trouble DJs. Our dad used to call us “Double Trouble.” A big Stevie Ray Vaughn fan. Our mom too.
Pat: We were born in Newport Beach, California. My dad’s working like 80 hours a week, it’s 100 degrees outside, my mom’s losing her mind, she’s got twins, we’re still babies, and she’s pregnant with our younger brother, and she’s thinking “This is not good.” And so mom comes home one day and says to my dad who’s getting out of the shower, “Here, just take the twins! I need to take a shower!” And so right as my dad is getting out of the shower with a towel around him, he takes me and Bill….and we both just puke all over him, all the way down his back and into his crack–(We laugh)
Bill: And he says, “This is double trouble.” (We laugh again)
BC: So you had the name all along and now you two decided to start a DJ company.
Bill: Yeah, we had just graduated high school and we started telling people that we were starting a DJ company, and a few days later we get a phone call from one of our buddies and he’s like “Hey, my DJ just cancelled for my graduation party…It’s tomorrow…Can you guys come DJ?”
Pat: So he’s on the phone with us and then he says, “Here. Talk to my dad,” and his dad is the sheriff of Oakland County! He’s a very intense man, and he says to us, “Can you boys do this? Can you do this for, like, 200 bucks?” And we’re like, “Sure!”
Bill: Mind you, we don’t own any equipment…literally nothing. We have our life savings from high school which is about five grand each that we’ve been saving for college. So we look at each other and think, like, are we gonna do this? So I said, “Life’s short. Let’s do it!” And so we get back on the phone and say, “Yeah, we’ll be there tomorrow.” Click. So it’s noon on Friday and we gotta be there at two on Saturday. We drive to Guitar Center and drop about $10,000 on equipment.
Pat: And so we bought two speakers, a mixer, a dual deck CD player, two lights, basic equipment, cables, standard microphone. We were with this guy at the store and say, “How do we set this all up?” Everything was brand new, in boxes.
Bill: So we pull up to the party with all our equipment in boxes, and the father comes up to us while we’re starting to unload and he says, “Hey, have you guys ever done this before?” And I say to him, “Don’t worry. This is actually our second set of equipment. (Pat laughs) We’ve got another, older set at another gig. We just wanted to bring the brand new stuff just for you.” And that’s where we learned an important lesson–
Pat: Never let them see you sweat.
Bill: Never let them see you sweat because the client doesn’t want to know that you don’t have it together.
BC: So how did the gig turn out?
Pat: Well, instead of playing music for our friends–rap songs–we played for the adults. Oldies, Motown, Classic Rock. At graduation parties, it’s 80% parents, 20% kids. We could have played all the banger songs for our buddies, but my dad always said, “Play the music for the client. If it’s adults, you play for them.”
Bill: And that was the best business move we ever learned–Make sure your client is happy because that’s your biggest ambassador. So after that, they started telling people about us. That was in April and by the time we came to Northern in August, we had made the entire $10,000 back and bought a second set of equipment.
Pat: So we move into Hunt Hall (at NMU)…we were suite mates…Day one, we set up all the DJ equipment, blasting speakers outside the windows, and start yelling at people on the microphone–
Bill: And then Pat turns on the smoke machine–
Pat: No, no, my roommate turned it on! He was a wild man! The smoke machine. And the smoke starts setting the fire alarms off for the whole Hunt VA–
Bill: The whole quad! On Move-in weekend!
Pat: Three and a half hours! They locked everybody out.
Bill: Not that long.
Pat: They evacuated everybody out of the entire building.
Bill: So no one could move in. But you know, they say there’s no such thing as bad PR. People now knew who Double Trouble was. We made a big splash. So we now became, not the cool guys–that’s pretentious–but we were the “party” guys.
BC: So while your were still in college and afterwards, you had Double Trouble operating both here in Marquette and downstate.
Pat: I was putting 60 thousand plus miles a year on my car, driving back and forth between Marquette and Detroit.
Bill: For the first five years of Double Trouble, from 2003 to 2008, while we were undergrads, we just travelled all over in our vehicles. But then I went to Florida State for grad school.
Pat: So I just did Double Trouble. I wasn’t in school. I lived in my car, slept in my car.
BC: So, Bill, you kind of bowed out of the business for a while?
Bill: I was supportive in sales, like, I would come up for some big events and I’d come back in the summer, but I had to finish grad school.
BC: So you finish grad school and now you come back to Double Trouble full-time–it’s obviously doing very well–and then a year or so ago, you decided you wanted to own a bar. Why?
Bill: We were getting hired in town by a lot of people to help them with their nightlife, and finally we decided that we wanted to do it our way. Sometimes we’d come up with weird, crazy ideas, and people would tell us No. And we knew it would work!
Pat: It was like when we said we should do senior bar crawls with safe busing, and they didn’t want to do it. And we just said, “Let’s do it.” We wanted to give the big city feel to Marquette.
Bill: ‘Big city feel, small town service’ is the goal.
BC: How many events per year does Double Trouble do?
Pat: 500 plus.
Bill: 500 to 1000. If you count every gig, including those where we send one person to a gig? A thousand easily. Some stuff only pays 150 bucks, some charity events don’t pay anything, and then some of them can pay $20,000. We built our brand with the idea that if we take care of our community, our community will take care of us.
BC: Are you guys surprised by your success, especially considering how young you are?
Bill: There’s things that have not been successful.
BC: Like what?
Bill: We don’t do karaoke, that’s for sure.
Pat: You have to know your limits. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. We do it, we offer it, but you have to have the personalities and people who can sing and…
Bill: We don’t want to do it. Because people complain.
Pat: Everybody thinks they’re Celine Dion or Michael Bolton and they’re…just…not.
Bill: We’ve had other problems. We were working in Green Bay and doing some of the tailgate parties for the Packers. It was great and it was fun but we were worried about the health of our staff, driving all these people that far and coming back. We were making money but we decided it was better to focus on Marquette and the UP rather than just doing a lot of things. We wanted to excel in what we did.
BC: Okay, lets change the tone here a bit. The saddest day of your lives?
Bill: When my grandfather died. I was in fourth grade. I just idolized him. A living legend.
Pat: He was the entertainer. He threw every holiday party.
Bill: He was just a really strong person. Made something of himself. Our grandmother had already died two weeks before we were born but he still loved her. When he died, it was just really sad to see the leader of the family go. We’d have these pivotal moments in our family that he would organize and some of that went away when he died. So now we’re trying to help bring that back.
BC: How about the happiest day of your life?
Pat: The happiest? The day I met Alyssa. She gets me. I went and spoke to NMU’s Hospitality and Management program–which was hilarious because it took me nine years to get through college–and Alyssa was a student there. And I was thinking, “Who’s this girl?” She just had this…I don’t know–
Pat: No, it wasn’t even an attitude. Just a confidence and strength, but with finesse. She was beautiful but funny. The kind of girl who goes, “Yeah, let’s go camping but let’s make a gourmet meal over the fire together.”
BC: Bill, you’re married to your wife Meghan and have a baby son. I’m guessing you don’t love your wife nearly as much Pat loves his fiancee, Alyssa. (They laugh)
Bill: I love my wife just as much if not more. My wife’s Southern, she grew up in the hills of Virginia. Grew up on a cow and tobacco farm. I convinced her to come up here. I love her to death. She helped Double Trouble get it together at one point. She went back to college to get her third college degree. She’s actually a nurse in the ICU right now. And she just applied to get her fourth degree to get a doctorate as a nurse practitioner at Northern. That girl loves books! Loves school!
BC: All right, you love your women. That’s clear. So what’s a perfect day for you?
Bill: Sitting on the beach with my wife and my son, and doing nothing.
Pat: Getting off an airplane with Alyssa and getting ready for an adventure.
Bill: I think both of us love going places.
Pat: I’d say coming back to Marquette is the other part.
Bill: I love that feeling when you get on that small plane in Detroit and come back home…and you know everyone on the plane!
BC: A couple final questions. How would you describe your brother?
Pat: Our dad describes us best–We’re a mullet. Bill’s the business, I’m the party. It’s not to say we both don’t have the business sense and we both don’t like to party. But we play to different strengths. Obviously he likes to be educated but he’s hard-working, will go above and beyond, he’s a dedicated father and husband. He’s got a wild side that people don’t always see but he’s very creative and likes to go for it. When people say no, he’s the guy who says, “Why not?”
Bill: I can be a little Type A. I’d say Pat in most situations is the guy in the room who’s the entertainer. He’s a good people-person. He wants to put his best foot forward for everybody. He gets upset when he can’t do that. He’s a good friend and when you’re running businesses together, that’s important. We’ve been working on that the last couple of years to make sure we don’t hate each other. But he’s truly caring and has a lot of passion for what he does. And he’s a wild man.
BC: Final question. What would you like your epitaph to say?
Pat: “He came, he donated, he partied?” (He laughs) Maybe, “He gave more than he took.” Community service is important to us.
Bill: For me, maybe just simply, “We did it.” A lot of people talk these big dreams. Not everything we do is perfect, but we’ve never been afraid to try something. I have no fear of failure, because failure is just evidence that you tried.
BC: Thanks, gentlemen.
You got news? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org