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Drake Audio Visual celebrates 50 years in business

Drake staff and guests celebrating at the Drake 50th Anniversary lunch

Drake Audio Visual celebrates a half century in business. Established by the late Geoff Drake, as part of the Drake Group, with his brother Harry Drake, and now led by Geoff’s daughter Heather Drake, the Cardiff based firm has been providing industry leading audio- visual solutions since 1971. With its official anniversary taking place on 1 September 2021, Drake reflects on its key successes, strong team and its varied client base that has seen the company evolve over the past five decades.

Having been around since the beginning of the industry, Drake Audio Visual has seen technical developments fuel an incredible era in human communication. During the 1970s, the company started out by servicing 16mm cine film projectors on merchant ships docked at Cardiff Bay and now coordinates projects involving the latest, presentation and video conference technology. Yet despite its longstanding presence, its core values remain the same. Drake AV stays committed to delivering intuitive audio- visual solutions which meet customer needs. It brings a unique breadth of experience to each project, backed by a professional, skilled team – some of whom have worked for the company for over 40 years.

Ian Lewis, Technical Director, who started at Drake AV in 1973 “Equipment has evolved from a lamp in a tin box – the Overhead Projector – to wireless presentations streamed to world-wide viewers. We understand that in today’s modern society, digital technology and AV equipment plays a huge role in improving communication, collaboration, and development. We aim to set an example of how we can make all this work.”

50 years represents a significant milestone for the audio-visual specialists who continue to obtain impressive industry qualifications such as CTS-I, CTS-D and participate in professional bodies including Avixa. Avixa is a professional trade resource for AV standards that ensure all projects, both simple and complex meet the customer’s vision.

Drake Audio Visual is an approved supplier of audio-visual equipment for Wales’s public sector via the National Procurement Service (NPS) Framework. This allows excellent relationships with local councils and health boards across the country. Drake AV was responsible for a roll-out of interactive technology in more than 30 primary and secondary schools throughout South Wales. Other recent projects include the supply of Microsoft Teams video conference systems for five meeting rooms for Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, and an installation of the latest Poly video conference system for the Royal Mint, allowing them to virtually meet and sell to their global customers. The company also designed and installed presentation solutions for activity spaces and lecture theatres within Wales’s popular heritage attraction, St Fagans National Museum of History.

Drake AV also designs and manages events, conferences and awards ceremonies for a range of customers including Cardiff University, Cardiff Bus, Companies House, Dwr Cymru, Welsh Government, and the voco St David’s Cardiff hotel. The University of South Wales benefitted from Drake’s expertise when sound, lighting and live-streaming equipment enabled friends and families of graduates to watch its graduation ceremonies remotely.

Speaking about the success of their 12th annual Institute of Water Innovation Awards Ceremony, Fiona Jehu from the Institute of Water commented: “For this year’s event ‘A Night at the Museum’, held at the National Museum Wales, Drake provided a professional sound system that was suitable for both the presenters and the audience, with lighting that created the perfect ambience for the prestigious setting.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company offered professional live streaming and hybrid support to organisers of remote events as well as AV solutions for socially distanced meeting rooms.

It was as a response to the closure of schools during COVID-19 that Drake Educational, also a part of The Drake Group, created digital versions of their popular Welsh language reading schemes, Prosiect X and Coeden Ddarllen Rhydychen. This meant these courses could be accessed remotely by learners, a major achievement in a very short time including over 190 books.

Helen Stewart, Executive Director, Drake Audio Visual highlighted: “We are hopeful the future is looking bright for Drake and feel incredibly privileged to have seen such fantastic business adaptation over the last 50 years. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us including our dedicated workforce and clients.

As the team reflects on its achievements, Heather Drake said: “It’s a fantastic achievement for a small company like ours to have reached this milestone. We have a long history, and I am very proud of the team whose hard work and dedication will ensure that we continue to play our part in this continually evolving market.”