David and Marla Stern
David Jolkovski/AFN

Dave and Marla Stern of Ahwatukee Foothills describe their 30-year marriage as a wave of ups and downs.

As they credit their successful union to “growing up together,” the pair also has learned how to be flourishing business partners and offer some advice for couples.

“You have to separate business from home,” said Dave, as he sat next to his wife.

That’s his No. 1 tip. According to Dave, any work-related issues should stay at work, unless of course in an emergency, that way life at home won’t seem like another workplace.

Owners of Precise Corporate Staging, with locations in Tempe and in Georgia, the Sterns provide lighting, audio, and other technical work for concerts and events.

Their most recent gig was last week’s The Fray and Kelly Clarkson concert at US Airways in Phoenix, where they supplied video screens.

Dave’s background in tour management and behind-the-scenes work for bands like Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Meatloaf, has given them an “in” with the industry.

The pair, who will be married 30 years this week, on Aug. 8, excel as business partners by each taking on their own roles; Marla working the books, and Dave in sales.

But the high-profile touring hasn’t seemed to faze the couple as years pass. The Sterns admit to being frugal, instilling responsibility in their two children, and always putting their investments back into their business.

The couple had been through a rough time in their first 10 years of marriage, as Dave was away from home touring with musicians. Their young business suffered through the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and also prospered as the economy boomed shortly after that.

“We felt prepared when the recession in 2008 came,” Marla said.

In their marriage, things began to improve also, as the couple shares they had regular “date nights” and a vow renewal five years ago.

Nearly finishing each other’s sentences, it’s obvious the pair knows each other well. Several times they look over at one another as if they share a secret.

Along with separating business from home life, the Sterns also recommend talking out arguments, trusting each other, choosing battles wisely, and stress an importance of communicating.

“We’re best friends at heart, and not just a married couple,” Dave said.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at thedianamartinez@gmail.com.

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