After eyewear firm Luxottica acquired Cole in October 2004, about a dozen members of the Luxottica HR department based in Mason, Ohio, began making four-hour van trips to Cole’s former headquarters in Twinsburg, Ohio. The Mason crew typically would stay in Twinsburg for a week at a time, living at a hotel. And they made multiple trips over a period of several months.
The visits were part of an effort to avoid a culture clash between the two major eyewear retailers, says Robin Wilson, senior director of human resources technology and analytics at Luxottica.
But even as they helped bring Cole into the Luxottica family, Luxottica’s HR pros tightened their own relationships. So much time away from family members can be hard. But driving and eating together encouraged camaraderie, Wilson says.
"You found out about people’s kids, people’s weddings, everything from life to death," Wilson says.
In the wake of the intense integration project, Luxottica’s HR team took its performance up a notch, Wilson says.
"The productivity probably increased at a sustainable [level] as a result of the relationships that were formed."