Hey thanks for the tip Nick, definitely helped. It appears I had two problems:
1) I had an extra USB power cable going to the lcd board panel, which conflicted with the barrel connector power plug I already had running to the board. Removed that.
2) I also reviewed the config.txt file with the Pi attached to an external monitor (wanted to make sure it wasn't a Pi problem too). I uncommented hdmi_safe=1 line.
Removed power and hdmi cords and then reconnected. Started it up and I was rolling. Now back to the box!