By Takemore Mazuruse
When Hardsound Pro-Audio started operations in 2002, focus was on providing sound solutions to the local market having realised that there was a gap in sound equipment retail and engineering in Zimbabwe.
Over 15 years later, the company has morphed into one of the best sound solutions providers with a production line of its own and the founder and CEO, Ephraim Rateyiwa believes they have the capacity to service and compete at the global level.
Speaking to Standard Style, Rateyiwa, who was recently crowned Megafest Northern Region silver businessman of the year, said they have what it takes to compete with global brands in sound business.
“Our thrust is to give value to our clients through high quality products that make the grade globally,” Rateyiwa said.
“We have invested in high-tech equipment, which has seen us outdoing some of the best players in the sound business in the region and beyond.
“We want to become a globally acclaimed sound equipment producer and service provider.”
True to Rateyiwa’s assertion, Hardsound Pro-Audio outclassed some of the best sound providers in the world at the Media Tech Africa exhibition in South Africa where they got the Best Sound Presentation Award courtesy of their locally produced product lines.
They were competing against sound brands like Nexo from France, Germny-owned Audio Centre although it is manufactured in China, DB Technology from Italy, Next Pro-Audio from Portugal, N9 Audio from China, EPL from China, IMIS from China, Nexus from South Africa and TW Audio from Germany, but still came tops at that prestigious exhibition.
“We believe in our sound product lines and the workmanship we apply is second to none,” he said.
“That attention to detail saw us winning the Media Tech Africa exhibition in August 2019 where our sound presentation got the better of sound companies from China and Europe.
“We made history by beating renowned sound providers at their game and moving into the future we are focusing on not only assembling and producing sound equipment for local use but also the global market through exports.”
The company is currently setting up a 600m2 production facility at their Masasa plant that will see them exporting locally produced and assembled sound equipment brands with the capacity to compete at the global level.
“We believe in top-notch disruptive innovation and our progress to date has opened our eyes to possibilities,” he said.
“We have taken the Zimbabwean market by storm and while we still have a few that lack faith in locally produced products, it is our hope that our quality of service and durable products will convince them to buy local.”
One of the biggest beneficiaries to Hardsound Pro-Audio’s workmanship is sungura giant Alick Macheso, who acquired a top-of-the-range Italian FBT sound system from the company back in 2013.
“Alick Macheso is one musician who can attest to the quality of our products,” Rateyiwa said.
“We sold him his current sound system in 2013 and six years on, it continues to perform to perfection.
“Where he has faced hitches or the equipment has experienced technical faults, our team is always on call with product back up and support to guarantee him the best.”
The sound enthusiast also revealed that his company’s deal with Macheso saw the sungura virtuoso remarkably reducing the size of his sound equipment yet achieving more in terms of sound quality and output.
“Prior to his engagement with us, Macheso was using a voluminous sound system that had four big speakers on either side, but the quality wasn’t as convincing,” he said.
“With the sound system we sold him, he only needs two speakers on either side but the sound quality has immensely improved.”
Hardsound, which boasts of some of the best engineers in Luckson Jojo and Pacival Mukuchura also relies on the best high tech equipment and components for its product lines.
“Beyond the special 3D software we use for product design and development as well as the quality plywood and paint we import from Russia and Germany respectively, we also have the best sound engineers and support staff for our business,” Rateyiwa said.
“My partners and fellow engineers Luckson Jojo and Pacival Mukuchura have travelled far and wide for various sound-related trainings and this has put us ahead of the pack in the local and international sound business.
“We also continue to get product support and training from respected and experienced engineers and technicians from Europe.”
The sound company is also inclined to continuous research and development with a view to stay abreast with trends in the sound sector.
They deliberately get the most expensive speakers in the world as their prototypes and from those they produce unique sound product ranges of their own.
“Hardsound Pro-Audio is big on research and development with our reverse engineering expertise being the backbone for good sound system,” he said.
“We learn from the best and where others simply copy designs by global brands, we invest on creating and adapting our own designs that stand the test of time while giving the best sound output possible.”
To ensure meaningful product support for clients, Hardsound Pro-Audio also keeps original spares for all their product lines given their understanding of the operating environment.
“Unlike some Asian sound companies with dealerships in South Africa that sell their clients lemons that look good from outside but sour from the inside, we give our clients value,” he said.
“We know it’s difficult in this environment to buy a new sound system every now and then hence we keep original spare parts for more than five years so that our clients can continue to enjoy our products while saving money.”
The Hardsound CEO whose company is also the official distributor of Italian brands B & C as well as Sica loudspeakers in Zimbabwe also highlighted that while some Asian companies make replicas that do not last, they get superior quality European components that contribute to hybrid sound system productions.
“Most of the products by our competition are imitations. They don’t master but copy and that compromises on the quality of their products,” he said.
“At Hardsound we invest in a globally competent skill set and technology that has allowed us to programme our systems for the best.”
As the awards and recognition continues to come for the prime sound company, Rateyiwa said they were highly encouraged and will continue working around the clock to outdo to their potential.
“Getting recognition from such bodies like Media Tech Africa and Megafest Holdings among others speaks to our aspirations and goals,” he said.
“Our hope is to continue setting the pace and realigning our work in sync with obtaining trends.
“We are not only focusing on the local and regional market but we also intend to go global.”