Goodbye, old friend!
After several years in his fight with a debilitating lung condition, Toby D. Guynn has passed on. 3/30/2015
I sit here with many things to say, but no words... Toby was many things to me... I started my journey in speaker building as a Junior in high school, when Toby allowed for a very flexible schedule of around 5 hours a day for the school/work program. I quickly realized that I was learning more at the shop than at school, and enjoying myself much more while actually producing tangible products with my hands. The shop environment never really reflected the real world... If you needed a day off, he'd quip "I'm sure we'll manage". Very seldom did Toby ever come off as "The Boss". He was the kind of person to let you make, and learn from, your own mistakes; Even if it cost him a bit of money in the long run. He would often drop whatever he was doing and grab chalk to explain an idea, or try to better understand it himself (We had 5 different chalkboards throughout the shop). As time went on, I started to take on more of the shop responsibility.
David Johnston was our GM, and his duties and talents well exceeded the normal bounds of that title. He took care of the day to day business side, as well as building all of the individual speaker components and bookwork for the business so that Toby could continue to design and play with new ideas, as well as any new component that hit the market. (As new tweeters or speaker designs came to his attention, he would usually create his own version to decide weather or not the technology had any merit. It was ALWAYS about creating better sound). I told David in jest (while still a punk kid in high school), "I'll take your job one day". He laughed, and said it was probably true. He continued to teach me in the art of building speaker components, and in late 2005, I went full time with "The Corp." after graduation. David was gone, off to a real world job and a wife and children. I had a good friend that was mechanically and technically inclined from school, Kerry Chappell, that I recommended we hire to take over many of the jobs I had previously been charged with.
Toby, Kerry, Steve (our amazing engineer), and myself... for 7 years we were the entire team at Toby Corporation creating and designing and improving production techniques; improving bracing and lowering distortion of previous designs. Toby was less the BOSS and more an amazing cultivator of ideas, and a nurturing mentor. If you had a new idea, he would get excited about it. He would encourage you to flesh it out, he actually wanted to hear the frankensteined breadboard prototype version compared to his standard models. If they were better, he was the first to admit it, and drop the old design. In late 2006 I started desiging home theater center channels (after several years of experience and explanation from Stephen Bolser and Toby on how to use LAUD, as well as LSPCAD for our normal 4th order passive crossover designs). With their guidance, I started on the idea of a wall mount center channel which needed to be around 5" total depth. We went through probably 5 versions of this design, and soon realized that it was a bit of a lost cause. The depth caused reflections which are nearly impossible to compensate for, and without advanced CNC routing, we gave up the idea of a shallow mounting speaker and focused on making one that was much more versitile. Toby never really considered any of them a failure, just a means to an end. In early 2008, I came up with the prototyped model of the current MPC (Multi-purpose-Center) and we realized during initial testing that it might be something special. With some crossover tweaks by Toby, we were able to clearly outperform our old Short Satelite models as a Stereo speaker. This was not originally the goal, but a handy side effect of tweeter/woofer placement as well as enclosure dimensions. It was supposed to outperform our older Center Channel options, but we ended up creating an entirely new line that worked anywhere in the room, regardless of horizontal or vertical configuration! Toby told me to build a batch of the new creation and get them off to paint so we had some to sell. In the meantime we built a second prototype to compare crossover models between the two (something we always did to fine tune crossover design of new models). It was my first real success with design, only allowed by my previous understanding of speaker placement and interactions that I came upon through the designs that Toby encouraged me to explore.
In late 2008, Toby began experiencing breathing issues. He was diagnosed with "Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis"; His lung tissue was hardening, and nobody really knows why. His prognosis gave him 2 years. The only "Cure" is to get a lung transplant. He begain going to rehabilitative therapy to give his body the best chance possible of coping with a transplant once he came up for a doner, and by the time this happened, he was actually in good enough shape that he decided to forego the procedure. He continued therapy and was able to maintain a fairly regular work schedule. I still got to come to work every day with two of my best friends. In 2012, Toby's health took a turn, and with many other factors going into play, he was forced into retirement. The neighbors and joint building owners were ready to retire as well, and The Corp was shutting down. There was no backup plan in place. No finance to keep it going, or anyone to buy the old 2060 Montgomery location that would allow business to continue there. After nearly 10 years of working there(now 24), I was not a rich man. I decided that there was no way I could allow TobyCorp to die. I came up with every penny I could, (borrowed or otherwise) and came up with a purchase proposition for Toby. None of the situation was ideal, but we reached terms, and I picked up the pieces that were left and we spent several months getting things ready for a move (the building was sold and needed to be vacated by August 2012).
We got very lucky that a good friend offered up a forklift, and ludicrous amounts of help with his trailer to move things to store in his shop of his until I could come up with a new location. Many thanks to Terry Pate for his continued investment in the survival of this dream! I set up shop in my garage, being able to produce our LOW SHERIFF enclosure was the only thing that really saved me. We had over 40 sheets of 5/8 MDF when we realized that we had to move, so I decided to cut them all into parts for low sheriffs and box it up for production wherever that would be (Otherwise, this would have been around 5000 lbs of wood to store and move in the meantime). In September 2012 I was able to work out a deal with the owner of our new shop at 6522 Midway Rd on the East Side of Fort Worth (technically Haltom City) and moved in to begin the long setup process, recreating all the Demonstration areas as well as production space. I was able to share much of the new location and setup with Toby through pictures, although he never was able to make it by the new shop. Much of what I have done for nearly half of my life is due to the amazing friendship I had with Toby. My apologies for going off on a bit of tangent, but it's a bit easier to write about when viewing through the good memories we shared. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep the dream alive, to keep pursuing better and more enjoyable reproduction of sound. Thank you my friend.
Till we meet again,