When Hangberg resident Dennis Davids dreams, he dreams big.
“My goal is to do Miss South Africa one day,” the 34-year-old founder and owner of DDEM Management proclaims. “I want to be like Edith Venter.”
While Mr Davids is under no illusions that even longer hours and hard work will be required, the determination in his eyes suggests it would be unwise for anyone to bet against him.
DDEM is certainly a business that is going places. The events management and marketing company has already become synonymous with standout soirees at a number of Cape Town’s leading hotels, including The Adderley Hotel, Protea Hotel Fire & Ice and The Ritz Hotel.
Further bolstering its reputation are collaborations with well-known celebrities like Samora Mangesi (presenter on Hectic Nine 9), Irma G (presenter on Heart 104.9FM), local singer Salome and FOUR (X-Factor SA 2015 winner).
In December, DDEM was voted one of the best in the category for Best Events Management Companies in Cape Town by Of Local, a website which enables users to list or vote for their favourites in a variety of categories.
Yet despite these remarkable achievements, it is perhaps the impact Mr Davids is having on the people of his native Hangberg that will be most far-reaching.
As a product of Sentinel Primary School, Hout Bay High School and a life-long resident of Hangberg, he is proving that regardless of socio-economic challenges, anyone can rise above their circumstances to succeed.
Mr Davids is an alumnus of Boston City College, at which he also served as chair of the SRC during his student days. On completion of his studies, he was offered a role as events and marketing co-ordinator at the institution.
“I soon realised that I had the potential to succeed in this industry, and in 2010 decided to go out on my own and form DDEM,” he said.
“I used my pension money to start the business. One of the first things I did was to establish the annual Face of DDEM competition, a talent search for a brand ambassador for the business. I remember I initially offered a cash prize of R2 500.This was all out of my own pocket. Today our cash prizes run into the tens of thousands of rand.”
In such a competitive industry, the ability to identify the needs of clients, particularly at short notice, is all important.
“I can give you an example. The Ritz Hotel wanted to do something to lure more people to its bar, and so I came up with the concept of ‘Thirsty Thursdays’, which proved very popular.”
DDEM currently employs five full-time staff and a number of contract workers who serve 12 clients. In May this year, Mr Davids will be launching a catering company to add to the list of offerings.
“I am a proud Hangberg resident, and I have always involved my community. That is something I will continue to do. I always want to expose local high school kids to the industry because there are opportunities if you are prepared to work hard. It is not so much about what qualifications you have as it is about having the right attitude. You should never allow yourself
to be a victim of your circumstances.”
At the personal level, the next step is to become a “national name”.
“I want to be someone like well-known South African socialite Edith Venter. And staging Miss South Africa – that is my ultimate goal. I live for putting on a great show.”
Mr Davids attributed much
of his success to the “personal touch”.
“When companies first start out, they might have only a few clients and so they can pay close attention to them. But as they grow they might lose that personal connection with brands.
“There have been times I have offered my clients services free of charge, because that shows that I care about their brand. It is
very important that you build trust.”