- Francesca Reicherter
Born to be an Entrepreneur
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
"He ran home, grabbed a 5-gallon container of kerosene and a box of matches, figuring he could burn them out."
In the 1970s, Marty Schaffel graduated from the University of Florida, and, eventually, went on to start his first company, Audio Visual Innovations (AVI) out of his two-bedroom apartment in Lakeland, Florida. Today, known as AVI-SPL, the company is world’s largest distributor and integrator of audio-visual equipment for boardrooms, classrooms, conference rooms, and stadiums in the world.
It was around the age of 10 years old when Marty knew he was destined to be an entrepreneur. His mother convinced him that he could make money painting his neighbors’ mailboxes. After going up and down his street painting mailboxes, Marty decided he did not want to venture out further with this project. Hence, he initiated a new project: building custom bird feeders. Once he sold the bird feeders to all of his neighbors, Marty decided it was time for something new. Thus, he begun a lawn service where he would cut his neighbors’ grass and hedges. One day, a lady down the street with a beautiful white gravel driveway asked Marty to pull out the weeds growing on her driveway. After settling on a price, Marty got down on his hands and knees to begin pulling out the weeds, when he thought to himself, there must be a better way. He ran home, grabbed a 5-gallon container of kerosene and a box of matches, figuring he could burn them out. After the fire dissipated, Marty’s lawn business was terminated, but his passion for trying to find a more efficient system emerged.
Looking back on his journey, “Learning, Earning, and Returning,” are the three words that truly define the way that Marty Schaffel has lived his life.