It might not be a fairy tale, but at least there’s a happy ending.
Born to Fly
“Hi, I’m Gary. When I grow up, I’m gonna be a helicopter pilot!”
When I was younger, I was so fascinated by helicopters that I would spend hours at the library reading books about how they worked, and how to fly them. I was only about twelve years old so I didn’t understand half of what I was reading, but if I came across something I didn’t know, I’d go find a book that had the answers. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was determined to fly helicopters. Before I could even drive, I had more confidence about my future than any twelve year old should.
Fast forward about twenty years, and it’s clear that I am not a helicopter pilot. Things don’t always work out the way we want, but it’s what we learn along the way that matters. All that time spent at the library taught me that if I explore my curiosity, and if I’m willing to dig deep enough, I can find the answer to any question.
Do it right the first time.
Around 2005, I was working as a satellite TV installer. Satellite systems had different wiring requirements than cable, and most houses that I went to needed new wires ran. One house in particular was a brand new 5000 square foot micro-mansion with at least eight bedrooms. When I inspected the wiring and found each outlet had been daisy-chained, I had to break it to them that satellite wouldn’t work. This house was built out in the country where there was no cable service. Long story short, they ended up having the whole house re-wired, and it wasn’t cheap.
With all the technology people were bringing into their homes, I wondered why electricians weren’t wiring these houses right to begin with. As it turns out, electricians are busy people with a lot of codes to follow, and staying on top of technology is time consuming. I figured somebody needed to specialize in the low-voltage stuff, so after a couple months of researching and drawing schematics, ProWire was born.
The goal was to make houses “future proof” using a new structured wiring method that was being used in other parts of the country, mostly in upscale homes. It was a great product, but launching it was tough. Naturally, selling something that nobody ever sees is a challenge, but a few builders saw the value in it, and electricians that were tired of re-doing their wiring were on board too. Soon, I had expanded into home theater and commercial audio video and for a few years, things were going great.
Then people stopped building houses. The real estate bubble had burst, and the market had crashed. Hey, I’ll admit it – it wasn’t the best time to start a business, but I learned a lot and I had no regrets. Then I started dreaming about helicopters again.
Hitting the “Pause Button”
We were in the middle of a recession and we were at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought my skills would be more useful overseas, so I decided to put ProWire on hold and join the Army. I took a job working on the weapons systems of the AH-64D Longbow Apache.
I thought chasing wires in houses was tricky, but it was nothing compared to the miles of wires weaving in and out of every compartment of the U.S. Army’s most advanced aerial weapons platform. Hundreds of wires bundled together, and every one of them was the same color. When there was a malfunction – or worse yet, when there was battle damage – we were the ones that were called to repair it. It was painstaking work, but our job was critical to keeping those machines in the fight. When we weren’t performing miracles with a multimeter, we got to have a little fun by side-loading 30mm rounds and racking hellfire missiles in a hurricane of rotor wash. Good times.
It’s hard to work in aviation and not wish you were flying. I’d spent many hours in the pilots seat pushing buttons and turning wrenches. I knew that aircraft inside and out. The dream of being a pilot was still alive and well, and if there was ever a time to make it happen, this was it. I felt confident that I had what it took, but before I was able to put in a packet, an injury left me grounded and my time in the Army came to an end. Those were a few of the greatest years of my life and I’ll never forget the lessons I learned while I had the privilege of serving my country.
Time to Reboot
After I left the Army, I moved back to the Tri-Cities, bought a house in Jonesborough, and of course, I had to re-wire it before I could get satellite service. I had been tossing around several ideas for my future, but pulling those wires just felt right to me. I knew what I was meant to do. I bought a van, rebuilt the brand with a new logo and a new business plan, and ProWire Audio/Video was officially rebooted.
We’re still in the business of wiring up houses the right way, but I also realized that with all the gadgets on the market today, it can be difficult to put the right equipment together and get the most use out of it. I’ve set out to design turn-key solutions using technology that benefits my clients in the best way possible. When I take on a new project, I spend hours researching, checking specs on different components, and finding a way to make it all work together to achieve the best possible results. There are still times that I come across things I don’t understand, but I’ve learned to dig deeper and find the answers I need. It’s this attention to detail that puts ProWire at the forefront of the tech revolution happening in this area.
I wish I could tell you a fairy tale story about how ProWire started, but that rarely happens in the real world. Luckily, I can say with confidence that I’m right where I belong. My dream of being a helicopter pilot may not have come to fruition, but every day when I climb in that cargo van, I feel like I’m flying, and I’ve landed safety on cloud nine.