SHAUNA LAKE: And you sent to school at U.C. Santa Barbara, is that right?
BRENT ANDERSEN: I did yes.
SHAUNA LAKE: And because you wanted to pursue this passion of yours and you decided to come back to Utah and kind of share your wealth of knowledge? Is that a fair statement?
BRENT ANDERSEN: Yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: I mean why did you make that decision versus going to Hawaii or Los Angeles or somewhere where you could experience the ocean every day?
BRENT ANDERSEN: Well some of the limited number of jobs that were available to somebody with a marine biology degree at the time, I just wasnt interested in those. And I got a piece of advice from one of those inspirational kinds of tapes and that advice was to ask myself, What would I attempt to do, if I knew I couldnt fail? And that part about if I knew I couldnt fail, that set all doors open because now all the barriers are removed, and this is what I came up with. At first it was Ill work at Sea World, no thats not big enough, and it just grew into honestly if I knew I couldnt fail, Id build a great aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the world if I could, and thats what I set out to do.
SHAUNA LAKE: And so that idea takes place in your head when?
BRENT ANDERSEN: That was early 97, early 1997 yeah.
SHAUNA LAKE: And were there naysayers?
BRENT ANDERSEN: Oh almost everyone.
SHAUNA LAKE: Tell me what that felt like.
BRENT ANDERSEN: Well there was part of that thinking about if I knew I couldnt fail. So not believing anybody who says you cant is part of that belief in if I knew I couldnt fail. All the people who said I couldnt fail, I said okay thats fine I understand thats their position, but Im still going forward. And I really discovered this a couple months ago as I looked back that was I ended up doing is I surrounded myself with people who believed. Who could get that vision and grab ahold of it and do something with it and not be skeptical, and in the end thats really how it got done. Everyone who said yes it can be done and were going to do it.
SHAUNA LAKE: Was there a stage in the journey Brent when you felt defeated and maybe it was just it was not going to happen here?
BRENT ANDERSEN: Many, many times. And everybody who does something, small or big, they might feel okay Ive had enough; I cant do this anymore for whatever reason. And there was certainly many times when that happened. There were times I would lock in the checking account for the business and there was like $1,200 in there, and how in the world are we going to make this work? But we just preserved and always found a way somehow, someway.
SHAUNA LAKE: What was the lowest moment?
BRENT ANDERSEN: I think the lowest moment was actually probably in 2002. So I had been at this for almost five years, put my entire life on hold, sacrificed everything, put all my credit cards up to the max to try to make this happen, it was 2002 and I still didnt have enough traction to get this big aquarium going. And so that was one of the points when I came closest to quitting and I thought no, Ill give it one more shot. Ill try something different. Ill try a small little aquarium, a tiny preview of the aquarium and see if that works. And that was the beginnings of the Gateway, and it worked. Thank goodness. That 10,000 square foot facility drew 150,000 people the first yearlines out the door so we had outgrown that space in less than a year, and before we had to start thinking about our new space.
-Written and Produced by Leslie Tillotson
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)