A sit down with Wild & Marr’s new MD – Darren Durbach

A sit down with Wild & Marr’s new MD – Darren Durbach

Tell us about your history with Wild & Marr

Darren said: “My history with Wild & Marr goes all the way back to 1992 when I had completed an Electrical Engineering Diploma with WITS Technikon. I needed practical experience to be admitted to the council of Electrical Engineers. I originally approached Joe Copans for the opportunity to work at Wild & Marr and the story about me getting the job here is quite interesting. When I first called Joe to ask for a job, he said he had nothing available. A few months later a position became available and Joe commented to my brother, who he knew, to let me know there was now a position available for me and I should come for an interview. My brother forgot to mention this to me” laughed Darren. “When I bumped into Joe a few weeks later he asked me if I wanted the job seeing as I hadn’t contacted him to arrange an interview, to which I responded in saying that Joe I didn’t know about it. I had the interview and as luck would have it, I got the job in 1992.  Neither Shure nor Harman was part of the Wild & Marr offering at that stage. I was assigned to a wonderful technician, Blackie Swart and who guided and mentored me.” smiled Darren “He had a phenomenal ability to impart knowledge in a very clear articulate way. Thereafter, I was approached to go into IT during the ‘dot com bubble’. After 15 months of not being happy in that industry, I again contacted Joe Copans.”

“Audio had always been a passion of mine and Joe said to me that he had no jobs available for me in a technical capacity, but his sales representative had just resigned and the rest, as they say, is history. I was the only external sales rep as Wild & Marr was a much smaller company. By this time, Joe had secured the Shure agency as well as the JBL Professional agency. Wild & Marr started to enter into the sphere of professional audio and having the benefits of some of the best and most respected audio products in the world.” described Darren with much enthusiasm.

What did Joe teach you about selling?

Reflecting on the past, Darren began to explain “I had been at Wild & Marr for three months and was struggling to sell. As a result, Joe decided that the time had come for him to take me on a business trip to Durban. We stopped off in Pietermaritzburg and called on two music stores. There I saw how Joe’s sales demeanor operated and how he was able to communicate and articulate in a way that people were comfortable with. The confidence with which he was able to sell was something that I learnt, and it was from that time on that he mentored me.”

How did you form your relationships with the biggest AV integrators in the country?

Darren described in a pragmatic manner “Wild & Marr formulated a list of companies who were in the AV integration space, one of them being Videre. When Videre was bought out by Future Media and subsequently became Dimension Data AV Solutions, they were buying a mix of products, some from us and some from other distributors. Joe and I worked hard on building our relationship with them and we were able to get them into our stable and help them appreciate the value of quality products. The important thing we learnt is that establishing credible relationships is key. Always demonstrate a high level of integrity and respect, your customers will then feel comfortable with buying from you. If your clients trust and believe in you, then you’re able to sell products to them. Selling the product was not the prerequisite, being able to support the product once it has been deployed and implemented is even more important.”

How do you feel you can continue the legacy of what Joe Copans had built with Wild & Marr in the capacity of Managing Director?

“To be honest, it’s a whole new realm for me. Joe was a spectacular human being, in fact, the comments around him go along the lines of “larger than life, gentleman, superhuman and full of integrity”. Joe always believed that everybody must be given an opportunity, and everybody must be treated with respect and dignity. He believed there are three types of people – those who watch things happen, those who say what happened and those who make things happen. Joe always used to say, “Let’s get out there and make it happen!”” reflected Darren

“Joe’s legacy is not an easy one to fulfil as he was an icon and one of the real mentors to the industry. He was immensely respected by friends and foes alike and he left a truly remarkable legacy.” added Darren

With the challenges we face as a company in the current state of the economy, how do you envision overcoming them leading Wild & Marr?

“I think that everybody is finding the current economic environment tough and every business is finding it difficult to grow. I feel that working together as a team with a common goal in mind and inspiring our team to believe in what they do are very important attributes. I aim to encourage our teams to work hard to make the company a success, to follow through on what they commit to doing in an honourable way.” said Darren

“The company is the priority and its objectives are to develop, grow and expand even in tough times. We’ll work in a practical, systematic, organized and coordinated way with our energy focused on ensuring that we maximize every possible opportunity on available sales.” added Darren

Tell us more about Darren Durbach’s leadership style

“From my point of view, I aim to ensure we have a strong team. A company with employees who are happy to come to work every day, who are committed to doing their job properly, who are committed to continuous learning and committed to working towards the benefit of the company as well as themselves.”

“The way I see things is that people buy from people…”

“The world of technology is changing fast; our people need to keep abreast of the changes and more importantly to be knowledgeable on the products we sell and the solution it offers to our clients.” explained Darren

What is the message you are sending out to Wild & Marr’s principals, clients, suppliers and the industry?

Darren said with intent: “Wild & Marr is committed to being the same company it’s always been, we’re committed to developing client relationships, to offer customer service, to develop the brand and to working closely with our distributors. We will honour the legacy of what we’ve built up in terms of the expertise we portray and maintain strong relationships with all our principals (some of which we have done business with for over 20 years). In parting, we aim to streamline the availability of stock and make sure that our energy is focused.”

Darren concluded: “In closing, I would just like to say that we are all very devastated that Joe is no longer with us, but we must continue without him as he would have wanted. We need to grow his legacy and make sure that he’s always in our thoughts in whatever we do for Wild & Marr.”