Herman Q Edeling and Ashleigh Gurney went into business together in mid-2016 in order to bring to life a unique idea that Ashleigh had developed over many years. As passionate and experienced entrepreneurs, both Herman and Ashleigh continuously see problems in our country that can be fixed. Opportunities are everywhere they say, and they are always full of ideas but more about that later.
These days everyone can tell you stories about terrible service that they have experienced. During the first year of building their new business, Herman and Ashleigh suffered setback after setback with terrible service from many of the people and companies they hired to help them execute their vision.
Have you ever been overcharged for something? Ever been promised something and then it wasn’t completed or delivered at the agreed time? Have you ever been locked into a contract where you weren’t receiving the service that you were paying for?
These setbacks certainly took an emotional toll on them, and after spending all their combined savings almost all hope was lost. Herman and Ashleigh found business ethics and good service lacking everywhere.
It was around this time that Herman received an urgent call from his father for help. Dr Herman J Edeling is a Director of The South African Medico-Legal Association (SAMLA). SAMLA is a Non-Profit Company and as part of their legacy they wanted to deliver training courses to their members in South Africa. The medico-legal field is highly specialised, but no university provides training in this area. In comes SAMLA who wants to fix the problem (golden thread of this story) but had also experienced the same bad service and setbacks as Herman and Ashleigh had in their businesses
One late Sunday afternoon Herman and Ashleigh heard from Dr Edeling how universities and private companies would charge students around R60 000 to do SAMLA’s 1-year Foundations Course. Dr Edeling’s vision, as Faculty Leader of SAMLA, seemed dead in the water as no student could afford to pay that. Whereas the traditional model calls for lecturers and students to go to a single location, SAMLA’s daunting vision was to present a first of its kind teaching experience in 5 cities simultaneously in order to maximise involvement and reach, on a shoe-string budget of a Non-Profit Company.
Ashleigh notes “Herman and I have always placed enormous value in building lasting relationships with like-minded individuals, partners, clients & suppliers.” With a lifetime of goodwill built up between Dr Edeling and his son after being in business together for decades, Dr Edeling called in a favour. Similarly, Herman called on Ashleigh, the one person he knew had the same business ethics and passion to fix problems and get things done. Herman knew Ashleigh’s experience as a seasoned Professional Conference Organiser and Event Manager would only be to their benefit.
With their combined experience Herman and Ashleigh believed they could help SAMLA. With sheer passion, determination and a burning desire to help those they care about, SAMLA’s Foundation Course was successfully delivered in 2018 at a third of the cost!
A solid and successful partnership had been built on this foundation and so Azlyn Creative was born. “Creative Solutions to unique and challenging problems!” “Azlyn” is a vision or a dream – inspiration. Herman and Ashleigh both have a growth mindset and have always been driven by GRIT, which can be defined as hard work and the power of passion and perseverance over a long period of time.
Herman remembers “Those were crazy times! We were both juggling full-time careers whilst doing all of that.” Ashleigh then comments, “Sometimes I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall and not making any progress”
For the first time in South Africa we presented a 5-city wide live event for SAMLA, which allowed lecturers to present from their home city to an audience countrywide. After each presentation there was a Question and Answer session that sparked debate and real-time learning. A student in Durban asked a lecturer in Cape Town a question. That lecturer would then further ask another expert in Johannesburg to comment or give their input.
Welcome to eventing 2.0! On behalf of our client we managed everything from budgeting, collections, the actual event day, Audio Visual & Sound, IT & dedicated fibre lines, recording the proceedings and then finally editing the videos and presentations together. All the SAMLA lecturers who gave their time and expertise for free know that their lectures live on in longevity so that medico-legal practitioners can do the same Course as an online version, for years to come.
Pulling this off required big picture thinking with a long-term view together with the assistance of solid business partners and sub-contractors. We are currently busy with SAMLA’s 2019 and 2020 Workshop Series that builds on what students learnt in 2018.
We are very proud to have helped SAMLA earn a surplus income for their Foundations Course in 2018. As a Non-Profit Company they have reinvested that into further educational activities. Improved practice in the field really helps SAMLA reach their vision of improving our country and the lives of so many South Africans who have been victims of car accidents or medical negligence.
A natural and organic growth occurred during the last couple of years and today Azlyn Creative has a staff complement of 10 people. We have built a full-service company to look after the needs of not only our clients, but also our families, friends and personal business interests. We are acutely aware of the “little guy” who doesn’t have the resources or experience to do this for themselves. This is the space where we feel we can make a difference. We do so much because we genuinely feel that so much can be done better, faster and smarter. We deliver efficient services at a fair market related price!
As Ashleigh puts it, “Herman and I have a wealth of combined experience in various industries. Why not use all that experience to help the people we care about?” Herman adds “I am actually saving money in my other businesses because we have centralized a lot of support services through Azlyn Creative.”
Getting back to the business we referred to in the beginning of this story, Herman and Ashleigh are still working on that in their spare time, and they are very excited about its imminent launch. It’s hard to understand where they get the time and energy to do so much. One thing is for sure, they are two of the most hardworking, driven and passionate businesspeople we have ever had the pleasure of working for. Making dreams a reality is truly what Azlyn Creative is all about!
A word from the Azlyneers behind the scenes “Azlyn Creative has a unique atmosphere that is exciting, positive and encouraging. We embrace each day with motivation and energy as our ideas and us, as people, are valued. We are more than a team – we are family!”