By Sophia Dias and Riteba McCallum
It’s like the divorce rate, but worse. According to the Harvard Business Review, 70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions end in failure. A while back, our Montréal office was looking for ways to expand, and we were introduced to Brazilian language services provider Ccaps. Always the optimists, we decided this little gem was worth the gamble. OXO Translations merged with Ccaps in 2018 to become OXO Innovation, and we’re happy to say we beat the odds: it was a great success!
Knowing many of our clients are interested in M&A, we thought we’d share some of what we learned in the process.
OXO Translations was a relatively young translation company with lots of energy and momentum. However, what it had in ambition it lacked in structure. It soon experienced growing pains as the company struggled to keep up with its own success.
On the flip side and thousands of kilometers away, the older and more established Ccaps had to deal with a stagnant economy and a lack of growth following the 2014 crisis, which forced it to implement austere timesaving and cost-cutting processes.
It turns out that the clearly defined, streamlined workflows developed by Ccaps to deal with the slowdown were exactly the solution to OXO’s predicament. The Rio team taught Montréal how to do more with fewer headaches, and Montréal gave Rio new energy. A win-win.
We might be from different hemispheres, but we were hardly polar opposites! Despite our different strengths, backgrounds and work styles, the Brazilian and Canadian teams are always on the same page when it comes to our core values. This is crucial in becoming a single, post-merger team.
Long before OXO met Ccaps, we both shared a corporate culture founded on kindness, professionalism and innovation. Oh, and a love of bad puns, or tio do pavê.
Distance shmistance. Even though we’re over 8,000 km apart, we form a single, united team thanks to technology and good communication. Google Hangouts, regular newsletters and quarterly Zoom meetings keep everyone feeling connected and informed, despite the distance and the fact that many of us work from home.
We don’t need to be in the same room to be a team and feel like a team. We just need the right tools to communicate effectively. And a platform to share tio do pavê.
To get things up and running in a converged way, both teams needed to get to know each other and start working together. To do this, we set up special cross-functional task forces to address every aspect of the merger, from legal considerations to internal communications.
This is how we defined who we are. Team members from Montréal and Rio were encouraged to contribute directly to the “new OXO.” They each provided insights based on their field of expertise, in-market experience, and unique perspective, building a united company where everyone feels they have a voice.
Both companies were operating independently before. But to move forward, Charles Lesperance Poissant, CEO, and Fabiano Cid, COO, had to combine their individual visions for the future of the new entity and draw a common vision for the “new OXO.”
They decided that the “new OXO” would be a service-oriented company. Beyond offering translated documents, they want to provide outstanding customer service and extra-linguistic services, like desktop publishing, interpreting and software and multimedia localization, while leveraging the latest technology with the latest industry offers. They want to be the full package.
Looking back, we realize these five principles were key to making the merger a success. But more than that, they represent core values in our daily operations that can be transferred and scaled to fit almost any business beyond the realm of translation and localization. I hope you find them inspiring!
In addition to being Head of French Language Services, Sophia Dias acted as OXO’s Integration Manager during the merger with Ccaps. She holds a Master of Administration from UQAM.