Biography: Ross Blomgren
October 31, 2014
Ross Blomgren is the vice president of engineering at Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation and has been immersed in the jukebox industry for as long as he can remember. When current owner Glenn Streeter purchased Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation in 1992, Blomgren went to work for the company he had long viewed as an industry icon and has devoted his expert attention to Rock-Ola jukeboxes ever since, harboring a personal and professional affection for the unparalleled quality of Rock-Ola products.
As a small child in his hometown of Chicago, he saw his very first jukebox with his grandfather at a local diner. He paid to hear Sheb Wooley’s 1958 hit “The Purple People Eater” on the diner’s chrome wallbox and it was instant love for young Blomgren from the first push of a button. Blomgren later made his first successful attempt to fix a jukebox—a 1950s Seaberg Model B, to be exact—while working for an electronics parts house as a teenager, heightening his aspirations for pursuing a professional life in the jukebox industry.
In 1975, Blomgren worked at Underwriters Laboratories as a lab assistant, testing appliances and components. As a sideline business, he also restored and repaired jukeboxes out of his garage, a labor of love that grew in profitability until he was earning more income from his work restoring vintage jukeboxes than at his day job. With that, Blomgren was inspired to leave Underwriters Laboratories after only a year to open his own company. He spent the next five years professionally repairing and restoring antique jukeboxes and in 1980 he incorporated his business, RJB Restorations, Ltd.
Blomgren owned and operated his successful Chicago store for twenty years, growing the business to occupy a 17,000 square foot space with two show rooms. At this stage of his career, Blomgren was not only working on jukeboxes but also rebuilding vintage jukeboxes with modern equipment, as well as manufacturing parts for various types of antique and replica equipment. He even built replica 1950s furniture. Eventually, Ross Blomgren became a dealer for Rock-Ola jukeboxes and developed an appreciation for the high-end quality and craftsmanship that he sees as the cornerstone of the Rock-Ola brand.
When Blomgren went to work for Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation in 1992, he continued to also operate his store for the first 10 years, with the support of his wife Terri Blomgren, who ran RJB after he joined Rock-Ola. But when Rock-Ola shut down its Chicago plant in 2000, he sold his business and moved to Southern California to accept the full-time position he now holds.
Over the course of his involvement in the industry, Blomgren acquired jukeboxes for his private enjoyment as space in his home permitted. His collection now boasts 16 jukeboxes of various models and vintages, the jewel of his collection being a 1937 Studio made by Mills Novelty Company. Blomgren’s collection is a physical reflection of him as not only his highly specialized knowledge of the history of jukeboxes, but also as a lifelong jukebox enthusiast.