Paddy Baker remembers CDEC founder and owner Andy Duckworth, who died last week after a short illness.
As we were finishing off our October issue, we were shocked and saddened to hear that Andy Duckworth, founder and owner of educational integrator CDEC, had passed away after a short illness. Shockingly, he was just 50 years old – no age at all.
I don’t think I’ve come across another company like CDEC. When I attended its supplier and sales conference in Mallorca in May, it soon became apparent that Andy had a real passion for AV in education – and for the company that he founded. Together with Toni Barnett, CDEC managing director and his partner, he created something very close to a family atmosphere within the company. It may be a cliché to say that they work hard and play hard at CDEC, but it’s pretty close to the mark – and it speaks both to Andy’s generosity and his understanding of the value of building business relationships in a relaxed atmosphere.
Part of that passion came from his background in education – at the chalkface. A native of Liverpool, he graduated from university there with a degree in maths and computing, returning there later to obtain a teaching qualification. He taught maths and IT in that city, then moved to a school in Kent as an assistant headteacher, where he set up the ICT – he was one of the first teachers in the UK to use an interactive whiteboard. Gradually becoming more involved with ICT suppliers, he left the world of teaching and set up CDEC in 2000.
There was never a dull moment with Andy. He had a tendency to say the first thing that came into his head, for a laugh – like at the InstallAwards this year (where CDEC had the liveliest table) when Andy let out a loud cheer when the compere asked if there was anyone in the room from the USA… I’ll also remember his approach to timekeeping at the Mallorca conference, where he signalled that it was time to move on to the next supplier stand by passing from room to room with a toy megaphone that played ‘Olé, olé-olé-olé’. He leaves behind a company that has been widely recognised as a leader in its field. As he told me when I interviewed him and Toni earlier this year: “We’ve got a clear aim: we want to be the biggest university AV supplier in two years, and the biggest education AV supplier in two years – and we’ll get there.”
Our sympathies go out to Toni, to everyone at CDEC, and to Andy’s family. Donations can be made in his memory to the Hillsborough Justice Fund – a cause very close to the heart of a lifelong Liverpool FC supporter – at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/AndyDuckworth.