The dance began in the summer of 2015 as the spirited Wix-Filtron group (formerly Affinia) made it known that they were looking for a new suitor. MANN+HUMMEL, who had been interested in the passionate and successful company for many years, immediately made their intentions clear. I imagine the beginning stages of the process much like a speed-dating activity, as Wix-Filtron had numerous suitors, hundreds of conversations and rushed meetings. But, there was something in MANN+HUMMEL that stood out above the rest … an absolute shared love of filtration. Once the beginning phase drew to an end, one partner remained, and on August 17th 2015, both sides announced their intent to merge.
For the past eight months, I’ve watched firsthand as this story developed. My experience began in October 2015, as I flew to Ludwigsburg, Germany for our “Core Team Kickoff Meeting,” which brought together strategic people from each functional area to align with their counterparts and ensure a smooth pre-closing phase. I was embraced with handshakes and smiles, and told names I thought I’d never remember. Today, those names are engrained as wonderful new colleagues. The experience opened my eyes to the exciting merger process, with bi-monthly meetings and travel to Germany to prepare for ‘post-close’ merger activities. Along with my new MANN+HUMMEL counterpart, Danielle Silvester, we forged great friendships and completed exciting projects, including an 80+ page “communication plan” that I can pretty much recite line-by-line after the final “version 47.” The plan included a detailed process for Announcement Day activities to inform our investors, people, customers, communities and the media, as well as extensive Q&A’s for these target groups. The plan continually adapted as the Core Team gave their input and rounds of approvals.
Projects seemed endless, as we were responsible for merger communications, re-branding, signage changeovers, and many other facets that kept us hopping from dawn until dusk. Usually the time difference between me sitting in the USA and Danielle in Germany played in our favor, giving us 14-hour days of productivity as we handed items back-and-forth without missing a step. The capstone of our “phase 1” efforts was the global Welcome Celebration events. Working with onsite coordinators, the events were a huge success. Over a 10 day period, the Wix-Filtron people were warmly welcomed into the MANN+HUMMEL family through the Welcome events. As Chief Human Resources Officer Filiz Albrecht said in her welcome comments, it’s “like a love story.” We listened to heartfelt speeches, we smiled, we felt the excitement, and sweet-toothed people like me enjoyed all-too-much cake. The events were a success, capturing the hope and excitement of joining families.
While the joining of MANN+HUMMEL and Wix-Filtron will bring great opportunity and exciting roads ahead, we also know that every union comes with adjustments and learning curves. Much like a marriage, each brings their own box of childhood trophies, idiosyncrasies and maybe even some eccentric family members. But, success comes from blending two into one stronger unit. It’s about being supportive, understanding, and embracing the common thread that first kindled the fire – for us, it is filtration.
From the perspective of Wix-Filtron, we have gained not only stability, scale and opportunity – we have gained a family. And we truly couldn’t be more excited about our future together.