When we interview the leaders of vendor companies that are completing a merger or acquisition, we're mainly interested in reporting what you – its customers – need to know: how will it change what you can get from them, and how you'll have to go about getting it. Will your favorite products be made obsolete or change brands? Will your buddies, the application engineer and local rep, be eliminated or replaced?
The answers are carefully phrased and always pretty much the same: everything you like "is expected" to stay the same, everything you found wanting will certainly improve. The recently completed acquisition of Invensys by Schneider Electric follows that pattern, according to what we were told in a recent joint interview of Clemens Blum, executive vice president, Industry Business, Schneider Electric, and Michael Caliel, president of software and industrial automation, Invensys.
What stood out in the interview and is hard to convey in a news story (hence this blog post) is the delight and enthusiasm both head honchos expressed when they talked about what they saw happening in meetings of their employees over the past few months. Blum's sincerity was palpable when he said about those meetings, "We were surprised at how complementary we are in terms of culture and spirit...We like technology, we like engineering, we like innovating things."
I also heard the amazement Caliel's voice when he said, "The complementary nature of the two companies' technology and business models is extraordinary. The excitement among our people has been tangible."
The success and ultimate value of joining two companies – especially two companies as large and diverse as Invensys and Schneider Electric – depends almost entirely on how well the cultures fit together, and the extent to which each and every employee embraces the changes. In the case of Schneider Electric's purchase of Invensys, so far, very good.