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How Decksaver turned a niche product into a club essential

Having started in Leeds in 2008, Decksaver products have now become the industry standard for DJs, producers, studios, and venues to protect their kit. DJ Mag Tech caught up with company founder Mustafa El-Etriby to get the full story

Decksaver makes protective covers for a vast range of musical equipment. They are a company that doesn’t court the glamourous side of the dance music industry but their products are an essential element for DJs, producers, studios, and venues. They have grown from a niche enterprise into a company that holds its own space within the industry with their range of products.

DJ Mag Tech caught up with company founder Mustafa El-Etriby to find out more.

How did Decksaver come about?

“We launched in 2008 — at the time I was a bedroom DJ who occasionally played at club-nights with mates. I was into DJ culture but had just majored in Design Engineering — my day job was as an engineer at Vacform Group, a plastics company in Leeds that has been going for over fifty years.

“I came up with the idea after the platter broke on one of my CDJ-1000s, which were top of the range at the time — so the first cover I designed was for that, just as a test really to see if there was any demand. We trialed several prototypes and decided that the smoked/clear look was the way forward for Decksaver — a 100% clear cover doesn’t look cool, lacks the class and slick look.

“After the success of that cover, we quickly moved onto the 12-inch mixer cover — initially designed for DJM-800 and XONE:62, but it fits loads of different mixers now.

“The covers were met enthusiastically by clubs like Digital, Mint Club, Ministry Of Sound and Fabric — we were urged to broaden the range by both the DJ and wider dance music community. It was one of those products people didn’t know they needed but once they had couldn’t live without.”

Did you ever believe that you would go on to dominate this side of the industry?

“Well, this side of the industry didn’t exist, there was no precedent for super-durable transparent fitted protective covers of this kind — other than old school turntable covers that would easily crack. Whereas ours are virtually un-breakable.

“The appeal of the product for many is that you can still see and be inspired by the gear it’s protecting. When people see a smoked/clear cover on a piece of equipment they now associate that with Decksaver, which is just amazing.

“We noticed there was a gap in the market and haven’t compromised on the quality of our covers from day one. We don’t rest on our laurels and are constantly looking at ways to increase the quality — they’re still manufactured in our factory in the UK from design to completed product.

“As a brand, we’ve grown organically over the years, but we’re essentially a boutique company offering the same service to our customers who have grown to trust the brand over the years. Some people might think Decksaver covers are just an expensive piece of plastic but extensive research, finest grade materials, costly tooling and many hours of design/testing go into every cover.

“Once a new idea gets out there, it’s bound to be copied. It’s flattering in a way — yet we think so far ahead, have unrivaled facilities and unmatched experience working with these materials.

“Some of the equipment we cover sells for thousands of pounds, so it makes total sense that people want to protect that investment. The amount of broken gear we see on social media — usually with us tagged in it — is incredible.”

How quickly can you get a cover to market when a new piece of gear is announced?

“It depends on what the new product is really. We have great collaborative relationships with most music equipment brands, so sourcing units is usually pretty easy.

“We also have good relationships with retailers, producers and DJs — who are usually willing to loan us gear or point us in the right direction. Occasionally we have to buy gear, such as vintage units that are difficult to source.

“Once we secure a unit, it usually takes about three weeks to measure, design, prototype and test before we are ready to start production.”

Do you listen to customers in terms of what they need, or is it the case that you’re pretty much on top of things when it comes to releasing new products for the kit that’s out there?

“Yes, we read and respond to every request, be it on social media or via the contact form on our website. It’s a great way to gauge demand for new covers.

“We’re also glued to the internet, as the deluge of new products can be overwhelming. The gear industry has been peaking over the last decade — especially when it comes to new DJ and synth gear. So, what’s hot and what products should come next is a daily dialogue around the office! We’re music gear enthusiasts first and foremost, so that’s a fun part of the process — especially checking out new gear when it arrives.

“We listen to what folks want — we’re even going back and making covers for vintage units that have seen a revival of late, such as the Vestax PDX turntable range. Covers like these don’t benefit us financially, but we like to take care of the community of gear-heads we have amassed over the last decade.”

Have you ever thought about branching out and making a cover with a specific brand, like a partnership?

“We work with several other brands but try to restrict those collaborations to boutique companies with cool ideas. These smaller brands know their audience and can sell to them directly better than we could through our distribution network. A lot of these guys are great people we have met and shared a beer with at shows such as NAMM and Superbooth — it’s amazing to collaborate with them and keep the creativity flowing.

“Decksaver is also working on a really exciting collaboration with what we consider to be the coolest US boutique guitar and synth pedal manufacturer, which will be released in spring. The guitar market is new territory for us, this is our first foray into that world — though we’re increasingly seeing pedals used by synth people, so there is a crossover.”

What’s next for the company?

“There is still plenty of new gear to protect and we don’t see manufacturers slowing down anytime soon, which is great.

“The podcast and YouTube boom of the last few years has been huge, so we’ve moved into that world with covers for the Rodecaster Pro and Blackmagic ATEM Mini — I can only see that growing as more people get into it. It’s a very modern way of sharing opinions and information, which is inspiring.

“We’re also looking at how to make our manufacturing processes better for the planet — though our covers last a lifetime and can be recycled, we’re looking at actually making Decksaver covers from recycled materials themselves. Unfortunately, the quality and clarity aren’t quite at 100% yet, but we’re closely working with our suppliers to make this happen in the near future.”