Leadership Interview with Al Manji and Robert Styka

Quest AV celebrates 20 years in business; we sat down with Al Manji and Robert Styka to reflect on the two decades of leadership, learning lessons and highlighting the company’s growth that has established their now duly recognized success as a Trusted AV Partner in the events industry.  

Humble Beginnings 

Al shared the humble beginnings when his father, in 1986, started the family business that offered computer rentals and parts. Quest AV’s product and service solutions evolved as the business needs evolved, and the service solutions developed based on what clients requested. The demand for projectors, laptops and technical support grew from computer rentals and forward towards event production services.  

Overcoming Challenges through Collaborations 

In the earlier start-up of the business and even now, there are many challenges that Quest AV leadership faces. “It was challenging to hire the right people, keep up with industry changes and impacts, and ensure that we invested in the right technology to stay relevant for our clients.” What helped them navigate the challenges was having industry leaders whom they worked and collaborated well with. To this day, behind the scenes, there are a lot of cross rentals, referrals, and support with other event production companies. Especially when the events industry is in the peak season, there is always a need for more equipment or talent to service the scope of all the event productions that our clients trust us to find the solution to support. 

Early Hires  

Robert Styka started as a freelance contractor, and after working on a few event production projects at Quest AV, Al knew his technical and operational experience would help set a more sustainable foundation for our company to grow. Robert joined as one of the first full-time employees at Quest AV and has been invaluable as our General Manager since then. As the operations and logistics were better defined, we were excited to onboard Noel Lising as our first sales account executive. With Noel’s in-depth knowledge of the av event industry, he knew where to find the leads and opportunities to grow our clientele base, and together with Al and Robert, they sold, won deals, and produced essential client events that have enabled the revenue and strength as a profitable company. Soon after, Quest AV was excited to have attracted Kevin Terry, a creative and seasoned account executive, to join the team, and his portfolio of loyal clients followed him to Quest AV.  

Relevant Technology 

Throughout the past 20 years, the audio-visual technology has evolved. Al and Robert shared that the early decision to identify and invest in the right technology that could set them apart was a high-risk investment.  What they did invest in early in the market before other event production companies and allowed them to attract the attention of larger corporate clients was their earlier adoption of LED Screens that offered higher quality and more creative visual presentations. Today, Quest AV is still well known for its top state-of-the-art equipment that sets them apart from others. It continues to be focused on having a pulse of what emerging technology is out there and which ones would be most relevant for them to adapt that empower them to better service our clients with innovations that improve the event production experience and quality.   

Leadership Style Changes 

From the beginning, sleeves were rolled up, and leadership was significantly involved in every aspect of the business operations, sales, service, and production. As a small family start-up company, we listen to our client needs, value our team members’ expertise, and make fast decisions that help us adapt to top innovations and changing technology needs. Now celebrating 20 years, our leadership style is still infused with our family values of respecting and valuing the contributions of all our team members’ expertise. We still have an open-door policy allowing for feedback on new ideas to improve our processes to be shared directly with Al and Robert, and decisions were made relatively quickly. Today, the difference is that we are not a team of 5; we have over 35 full-time team members and over 250 freelancers supporting our event production experiences. Both Al and Robert are very accessible and have empowered team members in their roles to make the right decisions for the business. With a bigger team, Al and Robert are getting used to letting go of control and being less hands-on. Trusting the team members they have carefully hired has made the extended leadership team contribute to the success of Quest AV. Years of accumulated success have also levelled Quest AV to receive multiple industry and business growth and excellence awards.   

Recognizing Success and Giving Back 

By 2011, 8 years into our event production business, we recognized that we were enjoying a stable and profitable business. As a reflection on this success and our humble beginnings – we wanted to give back to our community to support in a meaningful way. This is when we started our annual fundraising event called Quest For Awareness. Each year, our team selects a foundation that is important to us, and we raise funds and awareness for the foundation. It’s a fantastic feeling to give back and show our support to foundations like Pancreatic Cancer, Lung Cancer Canada, and Mental Health Foundations. 

We look forward to continuing our Quest for Awareness program for many years.  

Surviving a Global Crises 

Covid hit the events industry hard, and we did not escape the industry red alert as events shut down soon after the March 2020 announcement. For us, it was going back to square one and looking to our team for creative ideas to help us survive the lockdown period. We faced the need to furlough staff members and reduce the pay % just so the business could stay with the bare minimum until the industry was ready. Kevin Terry and our Technical Director Nicholas Persaud came up with the idea to convert a part of our 20 thousand-square-foot warehouse space into a state-of-the-art Hybrid Studio. We quickly adapted and learned how to manage virtual and hybrid event production and could house many recording and live-streaming events in our studio safely. The adaptability of our team to not give up, find the right creative solutions quickly and be able to offer our hybrid studio to clients set us apart and helped us succeed.  

Future of Growth & Engagement  

It’s exciting to have reflected on the past 20 years, and we are confident that we have all the right attributes as a company to set our company up for continued growth in North America. One of the many exciting things we have done better in the past year is to be better at sharing what we do through more intentional social engagement and marketing plans. We’re thrilled to have Connie Cay-Santos as our Senior Director of Growth and Engagement Strategy, where she leads our sales and marketing team. We’re invested and dedicated to our clients and thrilled that Alfred Park, our Director of Event Strategy, has positively impacted how we prepare for our event production plans in the past six months since he joined us. We have many exciting programs to empower how we best service our clients in Canada and the United States.   

What’s Next 

Our future is bright, and we continue healthy business growth within the Live Event Production. We’re excited to continue hiring great talents who align with our core values and contribute to our success. Our competitive edge is our people and agility to adapt to innovation and industry changes to create magical event experiences that make lasting impressions.  

What to Innovate with us?  

Contact us for a discovery meeting to see how we can offer you a creative audio-visual solution for your upcoming event.  

Join our Team 

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