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Exclusive: Striving to make a difference

Strive AV is celebrating a full year since changing its name from CDEC. The change signals a new ethos for the pro AV integrator, and we sat down with MD Toni Chalk to discuss the rebrand

When did CDEC rebrand to Strive AV?
We officially rebranded at the end of 2021. A year later and it’s been quite a journey!

Tell us a bit about the reasons for the change in name
Firstly, it’s important to note that as CDEC, we had a very strong name in the industry with a heritage and proven track record that went back over 20 years. Changing the name of a well-known company isn’t an easy decision to make, but we knew that to flourish and meet our goals for the future we needed to take the business in a new direction. 

I took over the business in 2015, following the sudden passing of my business partner. It was a really challenging time for everyone, and we all had to pull together and work hard as a team to steer the business through.

Six years on, and the hard work has paid off. We’ve gone from strength to strength, and this positivity sparked me to rename the company as Strive AV.

What else has changed?
We’ve also relocated our HQ to Felbridge, which sits on the Surrey / Sussex border. The relocation made a lot of sense for the business as its allowed us a much larger warehouse facility. Here, we can hold sufficient stock to satisfy our customers’ needs and meet tight deadlines. 

This has been a real game-changer for us as we now have pre-staging areas and rack build tables where we can ‘build’ the project off-site, update firmware and pre-load control programmes. Off-site witness testing can also be arranged for our larger projects. With our WMS (warehouse management system) we can allocate and palletise kit to specific rooms/buildings ready for our managed delivery service. 

Have your customers supported the rebrand?
Absolutely – we have the best customers in the world. Not only do we have members of the team that have been with us since day one, we also have customers that have been with us right from the start too. 

Historically, we have firm roots in the education sector, and this continues to be a huge part of our business. Royal College of Arts in London (RCA), a customer of ours for many years, recently commissioned Strive AV for our third major AV installation as part of its ongoing regeneration project.  

As we’ve evolved, our customer base in the corporate sector has also grown. We’ve set up a specialist team for managing corporate projects, an area that is now a key focus for Strive AV. Our experts have the knowledge and the proficiency to provide strategic solutions for a range of environments, including board and meeting rooms, control rooms, digital media scheduling, broadcast solutions and much more. 

Moreover, our suppliers have been a key component to the success of Strive AV. We work closely with leading supplier brands such as BenQ, Clevertouch, Crestron, Epson, Extron, NEC, Promethean, QSC and SMART and working with great distribution partners like Midwich and AudioLogic – plus many more trusted suppliers. Product reliability and quality, coupled with our work ethic, is what keeps our customers coming back!

What have been the positive outcomes?
Business is booming, and heading in the direction we would like it to be. We achieved some long-term goals in 2022, which opens the door to more opportunity and growth for Strive AV.

This is a huge personal milestone for me. It means that all the difficult decisions I had to make in the early days of taking over the business, and the years of hard work since, have been worth it. As a company, we are looking to the future and thinking big! 

In another milestone, we’ve also recently been approved under the government’s first ever AV apprenticeship scheme and already taken on one apprentice. Education is a top priority for us, and we’ll be ploughing a lot of energy into professional development programmes – investing in recruiting, training and retaining the industry’s best engineers, support staff and project managers to develop market share. 

So, if you’re looking for a career move, it’s a great time to join the company!

Have there been challenges to overcome?
Anyone that knows me, also knows I’m not going to take the easy road to make a little progress – I’m going to take the bull by the horns and not let go until I get to where I want to be. 

It’s not been easy, but I have built a brilliant team of (currently) 33 superstars around me.

What does the future hold for Strive AV?
My vision for the business is simple really – we strive to deliver excellence and succeed, on time and on budget, for each and every client. 

As a team we have a shared ethos and work hard to support our customer continuity; each member of the Strive AV team is empowered to make our customer service provision the very best it can be. 

Let’s just put it this way – you’ll be seeing a lot more of us in the future!