Pro Audio Middle East Magazine Article on Modern Touch
Modern Touch has the pleasure to share with you something that has been a great source of pride to us. We have appeared in “Pro Audio Middle East” Magazine latest issue, as they have conducted an interview with our CEO, Mr. Magued Makram discussing the business performance over the past 30 years.
Modern Touch is celebrating 30 years in business and 15 as a Meyer Sound distributor. While the last five years have been tough, the future is beginning to look brighter as James Ling discovers
WHEN CAIRO-BASED DISTRIBUTOR, INSTALLER and events company, Modern Touch, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010, things were looking good for business. The company had a healthy turnover and was involved with a number of high-profile events and installations.
It had grown from mobile DJ start-up in the mid-1980 to a fully-fledged corporate events company by the end of the ‘90s and then expanded its remit into the supply and installation of audio systems by becoming Meyer Sound’s Egyptian distributor at the turn of the millennium. This saw the company win the high profile projects for the manufacture, such as sound and the light show installations at the Philae and Edfu temples, as well as installing systems into various Buddha Bar and Hard Rock Café locations across the country. Plans were in place to build on this foundation with the greater investment into the business and its staff.
Business was really good in 2010, recalls Modern Touch, CEO, Magued Makram ‘Big Mag’. “We had a beautiful vision in front of us and we were really going in the right direction. Everything went down after the revolution.
The entertainment industry was particularly affected by the challenging business conditions seen after Egypt’s 2011 revolution. The resulting fall in business and leisure travel to the country meant that lot of work dried up and companies such as Modern Touch needed to find a way to survive.
“We were able to adapt and shrink our costs as much as possible, we took care of where we invested our money and we have been able to survive this crisis” says Mr Makram. “You have to concentrate more, you have to be really careful with your pricing and what you give to your clients. The most important thing is to keep the same service and the same quality. Even if you are in a crisis, that doesn’t give you the right to have bad quality engineers or bad installations teams or even bad organization in the terms of events.”
This philosophy means that Modern Touch has focused on keeping its staff well trained. “Practice is very important and until 2010, our engineers always had the chance to experience what they learned through our installations and through the calibration of a system for rental. Now this is less, but we try to stimulate it through some office experiences,” says Me Makram. “I always seize the occasion, so for example when we had the installation for Cairo Festival City for the dancing fountain, Meyer Sound sent two of their engineers to do the fine tuning. I made sure that all my team were involved with this tuning to learn from them. This is the only way to keep our service in good shape.
As is the case for the whole Egyptian audio industry it has been a challenging five years for Modern Touch. However, there are now promising signs that recovery is on its way and business is starting to improve.
“Business is starting to get better, but I think it will take another year for us to get back on the right track” reasons Mr Makram. “We are starting to get requests again though. For the past five years we did not get a single corporate event request from abroad. But this year so far we have had three requests from Europe, so that is something. Getting the job or not is another issue, but we are getting the requests.
“In terms of audio, for the past four or five years you only got one job a year, and you had to kill the prices and not really make any money out of it,” he continues. “This year we have had two or three small jobs. They are small but well paid.”
These small positive signs have been backed up by encouraging the news form the country’s wider business community, “The Economic Forum that took place in Sharm El Sheikh gave us a lot of hope because when you see the amount of investment that’s coming from the Gulf, Europe and the US you can start doing the maths. These guys will definitely need audio systems, they need conferences, they will need events but it will not show on the balance sheet for another year or two.” Says Mr Makram. “We now have hope. Back on 2012, we couldn’t see the end of the tunnel. Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have not reached the end of the tunnel yet, but we have light there.”
With business starting to recover, Modern Touch is starting to think about growth and investment again. “If things do pick up. I will not be able to manage my company with six or eight people on board, I will definitely have to employ other people,” says Mr Makram. “The situation now is not easy for me to start employing people again, but definitely sooner rather than later I will start to need staff.”
Following a challenging five years, Mr Makram is now able to look to the future with some form of optimism. “I am always positive person, but with the things that are happening now, I am more positive than anything else,” he states. “We will get back to the 2010 levels but it will take another three or four years, assuming nothing dramatic happens in Egypt.”
Modern Touch is in a very different place celebrating its 30th anniversary that it was marking the 25th. The last five years may have been the most challenging in the company’s history, but it has been able to weather the storm and come out the other side. The challenging business conditions have not yet disappeared, but the renewed sense of confidence in the market and the loyalty it has seen from brand including Meyer Sound, means Modern Touch can at least plan for the growth over the coming years.