A Passion for Sound – and More

Concert Audio Visual

From pro audio, speakers, lighting, LED Screens, staging, rigging and everything in between, for Director Joe Sofo and his team at Concert Audio Visual, one thing matters more than anything else: providing the best possible audio and visual solutions to meet the needs of each and every customer. To do this, Concert AV takes the time to fully understand each customer it serves in order to pair the highest quality, most appropriate AV equipment to match each customer’s needs. It also provides a diverse range of services and products and a true one stop shopping experience.

Joe started the company nearly twenty years ago after building a loyal regional fan base as a DJ. The company began as a true grass-roots project in the inner western suburbs, supplying a limited selection of high quality audio and visual equipment for other local DJs and hiring out equipment for small-scale events.

Since inception, Concert Audio Visual has grown incredibly, incorporating warehouse spaces and retail locations and stocking more than four million dollars’ worth of high quality gear for enthusiasts, venues and performers alike. “It started out of my garage, actually,” says Joe, discussing the early days and growth of the company. “I was just managing DJs – and DJing myself – and then moved into sound operation and lighting operation and from there into venue installation as I grew and accumulated more equipment.”

His passion for live music and event operation is evidenced by his continued presence in the regional and international nightclub scene, where Joe continues to DJ each weekend.

Though this schedule means Joe is working nearly non-stop each week, his early morning during the week and late nights on the weekend are all worth it, he says. “It’s something I enjoy doing, and it is an area of passion,” he explains. “It makes my life quite enjoyable.”

What began as a one man operation, at only sixteen years of age, quickly grew to include a handful of other DJs Joe managed to meet customer demand for mobile functions. These early services expanded over time to incorporate production work and venue installation. Today, the company employs four fulltime staff and twelve subcontractors to meet the demand of the group’s many clients. “They’re a really good team to work with and all very passionate about the industry,” he says. “All have varying expertise in the industry, including sound, electrical, a good broad range of experience and knowledge throughout the company.”

This range of experience and technical knowledge means that each client may rest assured that their needs will be met effectively and appropriately. In fact, one of the team’s longest-standing members recently completed his study of pyrotechnics, suggesting an upcoming area of growth for the company. “One of our biggest advantages is the fact that there are so many facets to the company; we are a one stop shop for anything audio visual.”

In terms of the services it offers, Concert Audio Visuals has made it a goal to provide a complete shopping and production experience for customers. Incorporating a wide range of services and technologies, it creates solutions for event organizers producing concerts, festivals, school productions, pubs and bars or even opening night clubs. Customers can bypass the frustration of dealing with multiple vendors and service providers. Many of the group’s regular customers appreciate the savings in both time and money this represents, especially during the high stress process of developing an event or operating a busy night club. “We do everything from staging, rigging, all audio, lighting, and now we’re moving into pyrotechnics as well, which is a really exciting prospect.”

Concert AV’s sales department was developed to meet the needs of its regular hirers and provide savings on high quality audio and visual products. “We have a lot of our regular hirers who will hire for a period of time, and become interested in buying equipment. So the fact that we’ve opened up a sales department in the last four years, has allowed those customers to have a place to be very well looked after, and, because we already have a reputation through our hires and productions, they feel very comfortable purchasing from us as well.”

Moving toward a higher volume in sales, Joe recognises the importance of continuing to develop the company’s online presence in the national sales market in Australia. Whereas, in the world of production and hiring, word of mouth is everything, for the sales department, social media presence and web hits are equally as important.

In the last several years, the company has been developing its online sales offerings and has created a web space to spotlight and sell great quality audio visual equipment. “The last twelve months we’ve focussed on building our online presence, which has been impressive for the sales department, and it’s an area in which we continue to invest.”

In order to facilitate its ever-growing sales department, the company recently invested in a physical retail space as well as vastly expanding its sales stock inventory to ensure the largest buying power to obtain the best prices for their customers. The venture has been incredibly successful, so much so that Joe expects the development of several more retail spaces in the near future. “We could expand now; we have enough business to do it. The hard part is finding the right partners or the right staff to be able to do that.”

The most important quality that Joe expects from staff is passion. “Everyone at the company shares the passion for the audio visual industry through various paths.” In order to really understand each customer and create the best solutions for their needs, he knows that his staff must share the same passion for AV that he does. “There’s not too many people who can do it at that level, and, for someone to be a part of Concert AV, they would have to be as hardworking as me to ensure the growth of the company, and finding those people can be difficult.”

For Joe, it’s about more than just money; it’s about sharing a passion for music, technology and events and enjoying creating a truly special experience for each customer. He is not interested in partnering with just anyone passing through the industry, as those are not the people suited for Concert AV.

One of the greatest strengths of the team at Concert AV, along with the technical knowledge and hands-on experience in the industry, is each employee’s sense of ownership. “Everyone works for the company as though it is their own company, which makes it difficult to find staff with those attributes, but I’ve been lucky enough to have so many great people fall into place where they feel the company is their own.”

Joe says that within the next twelve to twenty-four months, the company will begin development of a second Melbourne store, with expected continued growth into Sydney or Queensland.

With its great success and continued growth, it is still important for Joe and team to contribute regionally to the communities the company serves. A portion of the company’s yearly budget, as well as time and other resources, is devoted to a number of charitable groups and community development projects. Each year, Concert Audio Visual provides its time, money and experience to provide support for the Cancer Council, for whom the company has done a number of events.

McDonalds McHappy Day is another yearly event which the company supports, providing three regional locations with equipment for events. The charity’s cost savings can then be channelled back into community programs. “We devote about twenty thousand dollars each year that we try to put back into the community, and that varies each year who it goes to.”

Looking forward, Joe has some big things planned for the company over the next few years and is excited for the new features he will be able to offer customers soon. We can expect to see continued expansion of Concert AV’s production department, with the inclusion of several new disciplines including pyrotechnics and state of the art visual products.

The company is currently developing large scale LED screens systems in order to meet the demands of the large scale festival and concert circuit in Australia. “At the moment we’ve got about one hundred panels and we’re looking to expand to eight hundred soon, so we will be able to handle main stages at some of the larger events.” And though the company tends to provide higher quality equipment than most providers, Joe plans to continue to increase the quality to provide the best, most appropriate audio and visual equipment for customers. “We’re looking at being in the upper quarter of quality equipment with the hire and production department,” he explains.

With its focus on offering a truly one stop shopping experience for each customer, the skills of its varied and passionate staff and the desire to connect customers with the best, most effective solutions for their needs, Concert Audio Visual will continue to provide hobbyists, enthusiasts and large scale event or night-club owners with best products and services available.

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January 18, 2019, 3:32 AM AEDT