It was Doug Watt’s first day on the job at New England Communications, circa 1997. He was assigned to work with Dan Hodgkin, an industry veteran who had been doing this work for years. Doug’s job was to wire and hang a new phone on the wall, except he didn’t know how. When Dan saw that the phone was hanging crookedly AND not wired correctly, he ripped it off the wall. Later Doug overheard him telling his boss that “the new kid doesn’t know anything.”
These days Doug knows a lot of things and he learned them with Dan by his side. After New England Communications, Doug went to Mass-based telecom and network integrator, Point to Point. They were opening an office in Maine and were bringing Doug on as their lead tech. Doug recruited Dan to join his new team. Within the year, the company had to make some decisions to financially tighten their belts. When the sales staff was cut, Doug took on the dual role of tech and salesperson. Every morning he left for work with a work shirt and a dress shirt in his truck. Juggling meetings with pulling cable, Doug helped grow the company.
Then the dotcom bubble burst. Point to Point filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and asked Doug to turn off the lights, effective immediately. But he couldn’t do it. He had recruited the technicians on his team, and they were counting on him for a paycheck. His customers, the ones he had cultivated, were relying on him and his team to complete their projects. As Doug saw it, here was only one way out; he was going to have to start a business of his own.
As Point to Point was shutting down operations along the East Coast, Doug negotiated a deal to buy the company, trucks and everything in the Maine office and Massachusetts warehouse, even down to the mops and brooms. Shifting to work out of his basement and garage, Doug eliminated expensive overhead, and with four technicians by his side, got to work building his new business.
One of the technicians was Dan H. You remember Dan from the beginning of this story, right? Well, once he got Doug straightened out and taught him how to install a wall phone plate, he continued to work with him at Point to Point, and now, had committed to help Doug make this new business work.
Over the next ten years, Doug and his team built a loyal following in Maine. The Connectivity Point team became known for their high standards, expertise, and dogged determination to get projects done and done right. And Doug could talk the talk and walk the walk. As a technician he knew what was needed to get the job done, as a salesperson he knew what his customers wanted, and as the owner of Connectivity Point, he knew that together, those insights would help define Connectivity Point.
Little by little, Doug also made strategic acquisitions, growing the company’s footprint into New Hampshire in 2005, then later, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Service offerings now include audio/visual, security systems, sound masking and technology deployment, in addition to the original network cabling and telephone systems offered.
At 20 years old, Connectivity Point operates regionally out of 5 states, and nationally and internationally through partners and subcontractors. The company has grown from a team of five to a team of over 200. The responsibility Doug felt that day in 2002, to take care of his employees and his customers, is highly visible today. It is reflected in the employees that have been here since the early days, and those who come onboard now, seeing the vision that Doug has brought to life.
Dan H. still works for Connectivity Point, and his daughter, Katie, currently works as a scheduler in Operations. That’s the kind of place Connectivity Point is. Where you stay until you retire, and your kids want to work. Because Doug made it the kind of company that looks to the future and understands that the employees are who make Connectivity Point a success.
As Doug and his employees celebrate the 20th anniversary of Connectivity Point, he reflects on the last 20 years and what he’s learned.
The most important thing he’s learned over the years:
When I first started Connectivity Point, and we were smaller with less employees, our focus was all about customer service. We took care of every customer because each of them was extremely important to our success. As the company grew, MY focus had to change from customer service to employee service. I made sure we were treating our employees the same way we treated our customers. As we have seen over the last couple of years because of COVID, and the volatility in the hiring market, every employee is precious and vital to the company. If we hadn’t already established an Employee-First Philosophy in the run up to COVID I’m not sure we would have had the tools to survive and even flourish over the last 2 years.
His advice for Doug in 2002:
If I could give 2002 me advice it would be to take a breath before speaking, think before reacting emotionally, count to 10. When I first started the company, I was extremely emotional and inexperienced. I had never managed anything or anyone. Looking back now I said some things I wish I wouldn’t have said and reacted immaturely in stressful situations and to this day I still regret some of those outbursts.
What he loves about the people of CPDI:
Everyone here cares deeply about the job they do and the product that we produce. Even though we have grown the company to a size that doesn’t allow me to talk to everyone every day, I have incredible confidence in the staff because we all share the same values and move through the day executing at a high standard. I also enjoy the fact that we are all never satisfied. That we are constantly looking for way to improve.
A Thank You:
“Thank you to all of our customers, employees, friends and family that have supported Connectivity Point over the last 20 years. It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without all of you. If you would have told me in March 2002, that a company with 5 employees working out of a basement and garage in Cumberland, Maine, would grow into a company with more than 200 employees, and offices in 5 states, I would have said you were crazy. It has been an incredible ride and an honor to work for you and with you. Thank you.” —Doug Watt
Two of the Original Technicians Weigh In
I have worked with Doug for roughly 24 years since first meeting him at New England Communications, where I was one of his trainers. I noticed that he was a fast learner and a good people person. It didn’t take long for Doug to start leading projects and getting awesome results from his team. He left NEC to pursue his career and started working for Point to Point. About six months later, Doug helped bring me on their team as a Senior Tech for the Maine office. Once again Doug was put in leadership positions and eventually oversaw the Maine office. Doug was great to work for – he was fair to you if you were fair to him.
Unfortunately, after a couple of years the company went out of business and Doug was left to shut everything down and give us the bad news. He told me on that Friday that I could work out the day or go to look for a new job. I chose to look for a new job, but then Doug asked if I would hold off and wait the weekend. He had a plan but needed to work some things out before he could say anything.
Although I left a little confused, I decided to wait for him to call me. When he called me on Saturday or Sunday, it was about him starting a new company. It was called Connectivity Point Design and Installation, and the goal was to install cabling infrastructure and services. I remember telling him that I didn’t want to run cable again as a full-time position. Doug said he would work on keeping me busy with telephone service and installs as much as possible, and boy was he right.
“I have had the privilege for the past 20 years to watch Connectivity Point grow to where we are today, and although the company has gone through many changes the one thing that has been consistent is the way Doug has treated his employees, and their families. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this great story and look forward for several more.”
—Dan Hodgkin, Connectivity Point Telephony Technician since 2002
“Going from working one job to the work we have now is pretty incredible. I’ve stayed with Connectivity Point over the years because there is always plenty of work. The team here is great. I know and have a good time working with a lot of the other technicians.
I have to say that my favorite thing about Connectivity Point is the independence and trust. As long as my projects are done in a timely manner, I’m pretty much left alone and able to call my own shots. It makes a difference when you work for a company that trusts you.”
—Mike Dunnigan, Connectivity Point Project Technician since 2002