– By Mike Konzen, Chairman
“Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” – Peter Strople
Want to build a lasting legacy? Believe in those who will follow in your footsteps. I learned this from the example of two of PGAV’s founders, Fred Guyton and Mark Viets. I am part of their legacy today.
We recently lost Fred and Mark, with both passing within four days of each other. One loss was expected for a few months; the other was sudden.
It took some time for our PGAV family to process the magnitude of this loss. I was close to both Fred and Mark, and deeply felt their passing both professionally and personally. But eventually I came to a place filled with pride and gratitude. These two men undertook the very difficult task of building a highly successful design firm. They overcame situations of great adversity. And then, after they had earned the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor, they entrusted us to take what they built and carry it forward.
More than anyone, Fred and Mark shaped our firm. For decades they mentored younger professionals, culminating in early 2010 when they executed an internal transition to pass ownership of PGAV to a next generation, including me. I could tell that this transition was emotionally challenging for both. As we worked though the details of the transition, our conversations were sometimes difficult, reflecting the strain of these emotions.
But Fred and Mark believed in the future. And more importantly, they believed in us. For any of us who are blessed to have a long, accomplished career, our most important contribution to the future is to affirm our belief in those who follow us.
They could have sold PGAV to anyone, and perhaps reaped a bigger payout. Instead, they worked for years not only to build their business, but also to replace themselves.
Generational transitions like this can be complicated. They likely knew that we would have different values and priorities. Even today I can still hear their voices challenging some of my decisions. Yet, they trusted us to guide the business and seek even greater levels of success.
Moving forward, we will continuously reinvent PGAV to face new challenges and seek new opportunities that Fred and Mark could not have anticipated. We must consciously evolve our business strategies and not rely on past approaches. But, every new creative accomplishment and every year of strong financial performance is nonetheless a testament to their vision, faith, and optimism.
We are blessed to have so many amazingly talented young designers whose careers are a product of Fred and Mark’s legacy. They have tremendous potential. My partners and I are working hard to build this team up to be stronger and more successful than we were. And someday, my time will come to step back and pass the torch to the next generation and support their efforts to seek an even greater future. I know it will be hard for me as well, but also one of the most important ways that I can honor Fred and Mark’s example.
PGAV is strong today because Fred and Mark believed in us. And this, I believe, was their gift to the future.