Turning Work into a Family Affair
An acquisition can affect more than a company’s growth potential and long-term outlook—it can impact employees, too, as they learn to adjust to new workplace cultures, leadership, and coworkers.
When CEC acquired Wisconsin-based Select Sound Service, Inc. in 2019, people were the first priority. As soon as Select Sound employees learned about the change, they had a chance to meet CEC owners and leaders face to face. “CEC wanted to keep the same family atmosphere vibe going, and they wanted to know what we thought about how we would fit in,” says David St. Pierre, CEC’s director of healthcare operations in Wisconsin. “We knew that was a good sign.”
He thinks his grandfather, Robert Paquette Sr.—the founder of Select Sound—would’ve wanted it that way. Robert’s expertise in radio, sound, and lighting turned him into somewhat of a local celebrity in Milwaukee. He was also known around the country for his knowledge of microphones, even establishing a microphone museum that housed between 1,500 and 2,000 decades-old microphones. But his families—at work and at home—were always what mattered most. During the acquisition, it was important to Select Sound and CEC to keep that philosophy intact.
Many members of the Paquette family first joined Select Sound as teenagers, starting out as janitors (something Paquette wanted all his grandchildren to experience). From there, they were able to work their way up through the business.
“It was a family atmosphere for everyone,” says Daniel St. Pierre, CEC operations manager, “because grandpa did a really good job of treating all his employees as family. It was acceptance, love, and encouragement.”
Every Friday night for nearly 40 years, the Paquette family gathered as a group. Based on how they were feeling and what they wanted to do, natural groups would form around the house: storytelling in the dining room, puzzles in the family room, cartoons in the TV room, and heartfelt conversations in the living room.
“It was almost like a little group session every week, depending on your mood,” says David. “We’ve learned that, sometimes, you have to take that same approach in business, too.”
For example: Select Sound employees realized the significance of their work, but they also made it a priority to understand the different perspectives and backgrounds of their coworkers. For example: If someone wasn’t performing, it was always important to find out what was going on behind the scenes. Maybe they needed a break, says David, or maybe they needed someone to talk to for a few minutes to get back on track.
“We used to joke that we were a rehab facility first, and we did nurse call on the side,” says Mike St. Pierre, CEC project foreman. “But that’s what life should be. Human beings and the relationships between us come first. CEC has the same people-first approach that Select Sound did, and we appreciate that very much.”
Select Sound brought 60+ years of expertise in deploying and integrating technology and sound solutions for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and education systems—along with nearly 50 workers who are experts at their craft.
“We were acquired for our skills and what we were good at,” says Mike, “which was going into hospitals and getting work done in a timely manner. When we became part of CEC, we quickly found out that it would be business as usual. We had fun at Select Sound, and we were able to carry that over to CEC. It’s been an extremely positive experience, and I think that’s why we’ve all stuck around.”
When Mike says that, he’s referring not only to his coworkers—but also to his family. Four members of the extended Paquette family work at CEC: brothers Mike, David, and Daniel St. Pierre, along with their aunt, Contract Specialist Anastasia Paquette.
Within the first year of a company’s acquisition, an MIT Sloan study reveals that, on average, 33% of acquired workers leave—but that wasn’t the case here.
“We appreciate how focused CEC is on career pathing and not stalling people out,” says Daniel. “They really encourage us to grow and move up to the next position if we want to, and that’s been great to see. We’ve been focused on keeping a strong family atmosphere, making sure we’re not trying to be Select Sound within CEC, but successfully being part of one big CEC family.”
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