4ward Design: Derek Olivier & Daryl Katz

4ward Design: Derek Olivier & Daryl Katz


Daryl Katz and Derek Olivier knew the audio-visual industry inside-out when they decided in 2003 that it was time to challenge the box movers and start offering customers a service based on excellent design.

“Daryl and I had met in 1997 when we were both involved in hiring and staging,” says Olivier. “At the time there were lots of people in the market selling audio-visual equipment, but they were not integrating the elements properly and clients were getting a second-rate experience. That was how we spotted a gap in the market as we were both integration specialists who knew how to glue all the elements together.”

Katz recalls how they got to see the interior of many conference venues and were shocked by the poor viewing angles and bad acoustics resulting from solutions that were being put together by what he calls the “dinosaurs” of the industry.

“As two young and highly technical guys, we were amazed at what the industry was getting away with.”

Funding was the biggest challenge in setting up 4ward Design. “Getting finance was impossible, so we charged clients 50% upfront, and then got the balance from them when the hardware arrived,” says Katz. “That way we were never out of pocket. Over time, we were able to build the business to the next level.”

The partners agree that it’s critical to focus on running a tight ship and watching every cent. That’s what’s enabled them to grow the business into one of the largest in the industry, with an average growth of between 15% and 30% every year since its launch.

Vital stats

Company: 4ward Design

Players: Derek Olivier, Daryl Katz

Est: 2003

Contact: 0860 105 944, www.4ward-design.com

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.