‘We're building a bigger and better business’: John Penn on SSE’s Solotech acquisition

The SSE Audio Group chief has told PSNEurope the deal “secures the future career paths of all our staff”.
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SSE Audio Group founder John Penn has spoken to PSNEurope about the rental giant’s acquisition by Solotech, describing the deal as an opportunity to “grow and offer our services to a wider market”.

The acquisition, which was confirmed yesterday, marks one of the pro audio market’s most significant developments in recent years. One of the biggest players in the business, SSE had itself acquired a number of companies on its way to becoming a dominant force, including London-based Capital Sound, which it took on in August of this year.

According to Penn, the new deal offers myriad benefits to both SSE and Solotech.

“Solotech were looking for a base in Europe to provide technical support for their tours and from which to grow a European operation,” he told PSNEurope. “So they approached us. We had worked with them on occasional projects many times in the past six or seven years, so they already knew a bit about us. The deal secures the future career paths of all our staff, and ultimately allows myself and Heather too reduce our role in the longer term towards retirement - I’m 64 next week and you can’t go on forever!”

When asked if the acquisition will affect the jobs of any SSE staff, his answer was unequivocal: “Absolutely not - we remain committed to our modus operandi of providing coverage throughout the country through our multiple locations. It is ‘business as usual’. After all, we are currently enjoying yet another year of double digit growth, and we want this to continue.”

Penn also confirmed that the company will continue to operate under the SSE name: “SSE is a brand name recognised worldwide. We will simply be a division of Solotech - just like Wigwam, Capital Sound and ETA are divisions of SSE.”

As for the reasons behind the deal, Penn cited recent market trends as a major contributing factor.

“Recent moves in the marketplace, such as Clair’s acquisition of Britannia Row, showed that things were changing and there were increasing moves towards globalisation/global service,” he continued. “At the same time we weren’t getting any younger, and although we have been hugely successful at building a young management team, we needed to secure everyone’s future financially. Solotech share SSE’s core values; that’s very important to us. Together we can continue to grow and offer our services to a wider market level.

“We each have our own specialist skills; by sharing these we build a better, and hopefully bigger, business. We believe this move will give us the chance to provide audio to a number of worldwide projects that would not have been possible before, as Solotech had no European presence for tech support and back up.”

Solotech CEO and president Martin Tremblay described the deal yesterday as “the most important transaction in Solotech’s history”.

“We are thrilled that SSE is joining the Solotech team, especially given their well-known expertise in audio services,” he said. “The transaction will enable us to definitively pursue our expansion strategy in the European market and consolidate our unique position as a global player offering full-service (360) sales, rentals and integration of audiovisual technologies,”

Solotech is a global supplier of technology solutions in AV, lighting, rigging, soft goods and control/collaboration systems, with 1,200 employees across its 13 locations in Canada, the US and Europe. 

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