Andrew Guenther is founder and president of Advanced Audio Design, designer and installer of home theaters and automated audio, video and lighting systems for high-end residences throughout Southwest Florida.
I moved to Manasota Key in 1976 between 8th and 9th grade. That following summer I got a construction job with the company that built Lemon Bay High School. I lay the footers and put in the rebars for the school. Then the next summer I worked for a seawall company that put in concrete seawalls down in Placida. I stood in the canals up to my shoulders in water holding a fire hose with an eight-foot-long metal pipe on it. A crane would lower the concrete slabs into the water and I'd wave the pipe around to blow the dirt out of the way. It was hot and hard work, and I probably made $3 an hour, but it was good for you.
Then in 1979 when I was 16 going on 17, I moved out of my house and up to Sarasota, borrowed $5,000 from my dad and started a home security system company called Advanced Security. I'd always been a gadget guy and I guess I had courage-or naivete. I bought inventory and just started selling, and when I'd get deposits on systems I'd buy more inventory. It kept growing and growing, and in the mid-'80s I sold off the security part of the business and evolved into Advanced Audio Design.
From my early construction jobs, I learned that I didn't want to dig ditches or stand in the water up to my shoulders all my life. But it didn't hurt me.