Vendor Spotlight: Sound by Design

We have known Sound by Design for many many years. In fact, 1996 was the magical year each of our companies started. We have had the honor of shooting a number of Sound by Design weddings over the years. In fact, Torie, the director of operations (the beardless one below), is a Front Room groom! We had a chance to sit down with him to hear more about what drives him and what makes Sound by Design special.

Sound by Design

The Interview

What is your adult beverage of choice?

The team at Camp is always putting together a different mix cocktail. My go-to is an Old Fashioned, but then I love Third Space Brewing Happy Place IPA. The best thing is when we get back after a wedding and unload the trucks, we meet up at Camp for a nightcap. You might get 10 crews of DJs all arriving around the same time, excited to tell stories about their day. We don’t drink on the job, but we save it for when we get back to Camp and can bond with each other.

What is your favorite junk food?
I like candy. Going to gigs is terrible for me. I will roll in with a blue Monster energy drink and some kind of candy for the day. I share with all other vendors, you know, but it’s usually like Now and Laters or Swedish Fish or Sour Patch Kids, the big pack.

What is your favorite kind of animal?

I would love to have a pet tiger if it would cuddle as much as my dog. If it was just like a cuddly tiger.

What is the best trip you’ve ever been on and why?

My wife Tiara (who owns Events to a T) and I went to Europe. She wanted to go to Paris. We went to Rome, we went to Dublin. I have a friend who lives in Ukraine, so we went to visit him for our first stop and it turned out to be our favorite. We loved it. We love the culture and the food and wine was amazing, and incredibly affordable.

What do you like to do with your family and friends?

I work with my wife, my sister, my brother-in-law… My coworkers are my family AND my friends! So we still hang out together outside of work, obviously. We just had our first baby and we have nieces and nephews, so we all spend a lot of time together. Family events at Camp Bar.

It doesn’t feel like we’re coming to work here. Everyone’s excited every day. It’s genuine excitement for seeing everyone grow. It’s really cool that we’ve been able to make this a career for all of us. I was the first one hired full time in 2012 and now we have 10 people who have been able to make a full time career out of this.

Tell me about where Sound by Design started and where it’s going now.

Paul Hackbarth, who eventually became my brother-in-law, started DJing when he was in middle school. The school needed someone to provide music for a dance. From there, he started to do other dances and parties, and it slowly start to evolve. He started working with his brother and other close friends, and eventually it actually became a company.

When I was a freshman in high school, they were seniors. I asked if they could give me a summer job, and that was in 2001. We did small events and casual weddings, but once Paul left Delafield to go to school in Milwaukee, it grew from there.

What services does Sound by Design offer now?

We started as a DJ company, but we wanted to make planning easier for our clients by offering a few other things, and naturally gravitated towards lighting and decor. Then we brought on photo booths in 2014. One of our longtime DJs went to school for film, and we hired him to do production work, mostly making promo videos for us. Eventually that turned into doing wedding films and Films by Design was born. We opened the first Camp bar, and in addition to regular bar services we started hosting small parties and bridal showers. We opened the Atrium as an event venue in 2016, and Birch in 2017. With the addition of more venues and services, we became Hackbarth Hospitality Group. We have some more exciting venue announcements coming soon!

What what type of offerings do you have in your packages in addition to DJ and lighting services?

Wedding music was the bread and butter, but once we built relationships with those wedding and event venues, we started getting referrals for corporate events. Then we had to open up our offerings to be able to accommodate those events. We can install TV screens, microphones. We’ve really been growing a lot in that area over the last couple of years.

We’ve also been doing full production for bigger events like street festivals. Last year we did a gala at Villa Terrace, where they used a tent out in the garden. We did all the power distribution, sound, and lighting for the event. So we do have the capability to do full-scale production for off-site events.

What sets you apart from other companies offering comparable services?

Anybody can press play, and anybody can look up top music for a party. But you have to have the right personalities and the right group of people. We all love being a part of Sound by Design, and you see that when we are working with our clients. We have a really great process for getting to know our couples throughout the planning process. You know, let’s talk about your timeline. Let’s build your floor plans together. Let’s talk about music and how we can pull your personalities into the entertainment.

We are professionals and pride ourselves on making your event easy and comfortable for you and your guests. Nothing feels rushed and every aspect the night goes smoothly.

It’s nice for clients to be able to come in to our office to do this planning with us, so they see the people who are behind it, knowing that there is a team of professionals here working full time and it’s not just a side gig. We find out things about the couple that will help us pick the right DJ from our team. They may want someone that loves hip hop and rap, or maybe they are country music people.

An experienced DJ knows how to get people on the dance floor. You have to be ready to change the next song based off of the crowd’s reactions. That’s a big part of where our teams are successful. DJing is is not just putting together a pre-made list. It’s reacting and adjusting your playlist on the fly.

What’s the best thing about working with Sound by Design for entertainment?

It’s fun. The culture of our company is a huge family. We show the clients that we’re there to help them throw an awesome and amazing celebration. You can meet with your DJ at Camp Bar if you like, have a beer and get to know each other. Our DJs do a really great job of understanding what’s important to their clients and what the vision is for their wedding day.

Check out Sound by Design’s Spotify playlist!

To see more of our work, please check out our portfolio!