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Pavion - 'Pillars' of M&A success

Pavion - 'Pillars' of M&A success CEO Joe Oliveri and VP of M&A Sergio Katz discuss how their pillars have led to 20 acquisitions in less than three years

Pavion - “Pillars” of M&A success

YARMOUTH, Maine—If you ask Pavion CEO Joe Oliveri and VP of M&A Sergio Katz what they look for in potential companies to acquire, they would each say they have pillars they look for when adding to their extensive portfolio.

And extensive it is. In fact, Pavion has made 20 acquisitions since the fire safety, security, and integration solutions provider itself was acquired by Wind Point Partners in 2020. Most recently, Pavion acquired Integrated Security and Communications (ISC) in January, and before that the company purchased RFI Enterprises in August 2023.

Pillars for M&A

PavionIn an exclusive interview with Security Systems News (SSN), Oliveri and Katz discussed the factors that have contributed to Pavion’s tremendous growth in adding to its extensive portfolio.

“I have four pillars, Joe has four pillars,” Katz said. “The four pillars for M&A when I look at companies are people, culture, geographical location, and customers. When I look at M&A, I start with the first two - people and culture. It has to fit what we do, and we're pretty strategic on those two aspects.”  

“What has helped propel our growth is how we go about doing these deals,” Oliveri added. “We really want to serve the existing owners that we're buying from, and that helps provide us with a lot of leads. With a lot of the companies we bought, their previous owners are like our sales folks because they had a pleasurable experience: we treated them right, we took them through the process, we handheld them and we just treated their employees right. And because we created this really good experience, they want to refer us to other folks. That just builds our pipeline and makes it easier for us.”

Oliveri cited key considerations that guide Pavion’s acquisition strategy to ensure alignment with the company’s ethos and culture.

“It's got to fit either a geographic or a technical need for us,” he explained. “They've got to have the right culture, and they have to be growing right. We really want to buy businesses that are growing.”

Strengthening market position

PavionAs a provider of fire security and critical communications, Pavion has over 2,000 employees in the U.S., with over 60 offices in the country as well as operations out of 25 foreign countries.

Pavion’s rapid portfolio expansion in the last two and a half years has led to tremendous financial success for the company. In fact, Pavion’s fiscal 2023 revenues are currently over $800 million, Oliveri stated.

The CEO pointed out, however, that Pavion’s goal is not to try to be the biggest company in the marketplace.

“We want to have the scale, but we want to provide the best customer service and the best experience,” Oliveri said. “I'm not going to tell you my goal is to be $3 billion and be the biggest security provider. That's not what we’re trying for.”

The 20 acquisitions Pavion has made in the last two-and-a-half years have strengthened the company’s position in the market, Oliveri noted, as well as fortified Pavion’s commitment to provide high-quality services to its diverse range of clients.

“It does a couple of things for us,” he explained. “The reason we have an international footprint is to serve our national and global customers, so we're not actively buying companies to build the geography in Europe or Asia. We have a global presence to serve our global and national accounts. The businesses that we buy and where we buy them are with that in mind - to be able to serve our national accounts - because if you don't have that right presence, you can't serve a national account properly. The companies we buy, we want to make sure they take service seriously.” 

“Also, by expanding our geography, it allows us to self-perform more work instead of just being totally reliant on subcontractors. We want to have a good balance where we can self-perform a decent amount of our work and have good quality control.”

Looking ahead

With the M&A success that Pavion has achieved in the last couple of years, Oliveri outlined the vision for the company going forward, in terms of continued growth and profitability.

“We have a couple of pillars. The first one is 10 percent organic growth, so that's the bar that we set – 10+ percent organic growth - and that's through development of our own accounts, adding sales capacity, all of that,” he said. “The next pillar is continued integration. We'll be fully integrated by the end of 2024 so when the companies come in, we don't let them flounder on their own; they are integrated.

“The next thing is synergies. There are many opportunities when we bring companies in to synergize, so when we put them on our property and casualty insurance, we save a lot of money. We put them on our auto plans, we save money. It's basically just bringing them onto our purchasing team and saving some money.”

Continued M&A activity is Oliveri’s fourth pillar. “This year we're very specifically focused on a couple of markets in the Midwest and that's really it,” he noted. “Next year our focus is going to be more cyber international, but this year it's rounding out our U.S. footprint, and we're looking for, quite frankly, larger deals.

“When I say larger, a few million dollars or more because we really want some mass there. We're trying to finish our integration, so we're being very targeted this year on the acquisitions we do. We'll probably do as much in volume as we've done before but with less deals.”

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