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The Past Five Years in Reflection: A Letter From Andrew Goodwin

AGD's humble beginnings in Andrew's garage

What was your initial vision for AGD?

In 2015, I was on my way towards being a father for the first time and my partners in my business were not holding up their end of the bargain. Time at the office was both consuming my life and slipping away. I therefore decided to begin my own office (AGD) in the corner of my garage as a way to be with my family more and control the efforts my company was making in the world. I wanted to be a better steward of my time, for my family, and for my clients. Thus, AGD became a company formed with a mission to transform living.

AGD's first office space on Marsh Street

Have the past five years been reflective of your initial vision?

In 2018, AGD moved into 2050 Parker Street with a vision to grow a team of like-minded professionals looking to contribute to the world of architecture in different ways than what they had experienced in the industry. At the time, the team was only five. It has grown to sixteen. The Parker space was intended to allow our team to grow, but the growth exceeded expectations. This is partially due to the team being as amazing as they were and recruiting others to work with us as we began to say yes to more work. I also believed that the energy we could help foster on Parker Street would be a great place to allow AGD to be stewards of the arts and architecture for the SLO Community. I believe this was successful.

AGD Parker Street Office

What sort of challenges did you face over these past five years? How did you overcome these challenges?

The office at 2050 Parker was particularly important as it began during some pivotal years as a man, a father, a business owner, and a friend. We were challenged by the pandemic, floods, and a new remote work culture. These changed the way I lead the team, and it made me adapt to the way I needed to be as a business owner. I feel like I got tougher and it showed me that I could pivot and deal with a lot of adversity. But in the end, no struggle is good and it was hard to be a business owner, a friend, and a father. I did not feel that I achieved exceptionally high marks in any of these during my time at 2050 Parker Street, though many may think differently. Growth in the personnel of a business is sometimes neither good nor bad, but rather a result of needing more time to complete more tasks - and that became the true reason why we needed to look outside of our space at 2050 Parkers Street to grow more.

What are some moments of gratitude for experiences, people, and opportunities that you've had over the past five years?

AGD Team 2017

I am very grateful for the team that we had in the early years at AGD. Josh, Chris, Karina, and Angelique all gave more than their all in helping us make AGD successful. Bryan and Alex looked on in awe as these young professionals grew up in front of us. I have never had a harder time losing team members than watching Karina and Chris walk out my door due to the pure fact that I had seen them grow into something extraordinary and I knew I would no longer be front row to see them take on their next amazing challenges in life.

AGD Team 2018

As we grew to replace people and add more to the team, we felt the warmth in our bullpen with the addition of Bri, Natalie, Kristin, and Aaron. Quickly we added these talents to our team to grow our residential and commercial teams. Mike Demartini had begun working full time to continue our civic work and to have emerging professionals flourishing in front of me while being supported by senior leadership like Bryan, Mike, and Alex was so wonderful. 

As Neal and Ejay began to take the reigns of our marketing and administrative roles I found that every personality and every humor was welcome at AGD. I have never had more fun than watching these two banter from afar via Zoom.

AGD Team 2023

Each of the team members we added during our years at AGD seemed to be coming from places in their own journey where they did not feel needed, respected, wanted, or valued as much as they should have been. It felt odd to have mentored even a few of them in their questions about the industry to then turn around months later and see if they wanted to join AGD. One of the coolest moments that I will always remember is when I received a postcard from a team member (to remain anonymous) from the store in which they were standing years before when I called to offer them a job. The care and thoughtfulness in that story let me know that people sometimes just want to be heard and thought of as valuable and that can really change a life…. So much that you remember where you were standing when you felt it changed.

What are your goals for the next five years at AGD?

AGD has become another name among architects in San Luis Obispo and that seems to be more than I could have asked for when I started in my garage in 2015. I only wanted to provide for my family and spend more time with them. My goal for the next five years at AGD is to empower staff so that I can ensure I am available to have a good work/life balance. I don’t want to miss my kids growing up. My partner Alex has expressed the same. So we are going to strive to put good processes in place to allow for our team to grow in leadership.

We have created three great divisions in our company (residential, commercial, and civic). We hope to expand into education in the next five years while expanding our work in the civic division. We want to grow our experience when it comes to being stewards to our communities. This means doing more community-minded projects and designing more mixed-use and affordable housing projects when we can. We know we have the capacity to do these jobs and with the right team members we hope to do this.

Ultimately, AGD is looking to maintain and grow our brand so that people will seek us to partner with them on projects that need not just experience or capability, but also passion and innovation. We want to push our clients to think of projects more holistically when it comes to the environment and society - and we hope to find the clients that are willing to take these risks with us. AGD’s growth in the next five years is not about growing in numbers. We have a good base. Now we hope to grow in experience, in expertise, and in talent. These basic building blocks will help us show our passion and innovation to more clients.

Written by Andrew Goodwin

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