In business, there are occasional sliding door moments that determine the direction a company is heading. Peter Worth, owner and Managing Director of Audio Visual Dynamics, has had a few. In fact, the choices he’s made during these times have steered his company on the trajectory of success it enjoys today.
In 1992, Peter and his father purchased a small, run-down AV company with four staff members. Back then, as presentations were done by slide and overhead projectors, the company rented products that didn’t require any labour or expertise.
"We quickly realised our customers didn’t need us. They rented their screen or projector and off they went," recalls Peter. "So we changed the nature of our business dramatically. We started delivering events, which meant we could provide more value-add to our clients."
This was Peter’s first decision that was to change the direction of Audio Visual Dynamics. Today, Australian-owned and Melbourne-based Audio Visual Dynamics is one of Australia’s leading hotel AV support providers, delivering more than 10,000 events each year.
The company has "mic’d up" film stars and sports stars, dignitaries and MPs, incoming prime ministers and even outgoing ones. "I’m a businessperson first – I don’t want to be the leading-edge AV supplier that has gone out of business," he chuckles.
"When we started, we were a minnow; we really had no idea how to run a business and we were operating hand-to-mouth. We started working with an advisory board with legendary businessman Ivan Deveson in the chair. Our board created structures in the business. I trusted them implicitly – the board was the making of the business," he states matter-of-factly.
"I don’t think we’d be here today without them." Audio Visual Dynamics stopped thinking about products and instead started focusing on outcomes.
What were their clients trying to achieve from their events? How would Audio Visual Dynamics deliver that experience? How would it feel to be sitting in their client’s audience?
"Every event has to be important and successful. If we lose that and stop caring, then we lose our point of difference – we become like all the other big AV companies, which are focused on volume," Peter says.
"Person-to-person connections are our point of difference and our strength. We deliver a customer-based business and our staff understand that. They don’t talk in technology speak. We don’t consider ourselves technicians in the hospitality industry but instead hospitality people doing technical work."
Interestingly, for a technology-oriented company, Audio Visual Dynamics is refreshingly not focused on the actual technology. "We’re a trailing edge technology provider, not a leading-edge," he laughs.
"This takes the pressure off making sure we’re always at the head of the curve. "We focus on outcomes, not products," reminds Peter.
"The products are the methodology for delivering an event and achieving that outcome. How we reach those outcomes is up to us. We don’t want our clients to think about the AV because that’s our job. We’re there to make them look and sound great."
Person-to-person connections are our point of difference and our strength.
Audio Visual Dynamics may not be an early adopter, nor the flashiest AV supplier, but with 28 years in the business, it proves that slow and steady (not to mention trustworthy, customer-focused and consistently excellent) does in fact win the race.
For Peter, cracking the five-star hotel market was another milestone that changed the direction of the company, demanding a level of professionalism that it enthusiastically stepped up to.
Today, Audio Visual Dynamics works in partnership with more than 25 venues ranging from five-star hotels to 53,000-seat stadiums. "We act and treat the venue as if we are part of it and not a separate contractor," he says.
A personal reason saw a major transformation of the company. In 2017, Peter experienced health issues that forced him to take a major step back from the day-to-day operation of the business. This, it turns out, was the making of the company.
"I needed to change my managerial style and allow the team to step up and take responsibility and ownership," Peter recalls.
"I needed to get better at setting goals and delegating. It wasn’t an epiphany, but it did show me a better way to do things. The company continued to thrive and prosper without me micromanaging. As a result, the team has really grown.
I think that’s the achievement I’m proudest of. Our team has goals and boundaries to work within and they coordinate everything in between. This really empowers them.
"I love how our staff, who started off as junior technicians, have grown through the business and are now leaders in the company. We give a Rolex watch to team members who’ve been with us longer than 20 years. We’ve already given away a few with more in the pipeline, which speaks volumes about our staff loyalty. That gives me a real buzz."
When asked about his managerial style, Peter chuckles, "I have around 150 employees, and on their birthdays, they know I’ll ring and sing happy birthday to them. I’m a terrible singer but it’s a real laugh and now I know everyone by name.
I’m always at the venues so the team see me around and chat – we feel like a family and we’re all very aligned. I’m the brand ambassador, cultural ambassador and quality control," he laughs.
"I keep us strong and I keep us different, and that keeps us successful." Loyalty also runs deep with the company’s committed suppliers and strategic partners. Production Audio Video Technology has been with the company since it started.
"We value those who stick with us for the long run – they look after us and we look after them," says Peter. Industry leaders like Panasonic also inspire him. "They’ve been phenomenal feeding us advice and offering direction. Their team has been brilliant."
Peter also sits on the board of AV Alliance, a global network of premium AV and event tech suppliers. "Being the owner of a company can be pretty lonely at times. Through AV Alliance, I’ve formed fantastic connections with like-minded people all over the world,"
Peter explains. "I love being associated with people who are entrepreneurial and smart. "In business, you shouldn’t be excited by a piece of equipment; instead, you need to be excited by how you grow, how your people grow and how you’re growing with your clients," he suggests.
I keep us strong and I keep us different and that keeps us successful.
"Creating a legacy of an enduring, strong, stable business has been really attractive to our clients. "At one of our events, Australia’s then-Prime Minister John Howard was nervously doing his usual ‘wiggle’ of the mic during a soundcheck," Peter remembers.
"I went up and reassured him saying ‘Our technician is here to make you sound fantastic. Just talk normally and I bet you will be.’ And he was." Audio Visual Dynamics – making people "sound fantastic" since 1992.
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