By Molly Stillman
Everyone knows Pierre Richer as the creative AV industry guy who is the president and CEO of NEC. (He also wears great shirts.)
Pierre is a naturally born French Canadian who started in the AV industry working for InFocus in 1996 selling LCD tablets even before projectors were part of this industry. Before this, Pierre was selling typewriters, copiers and other office products. “That was a total grind,” Pierre said.
He moved to Portland, Ore. from Canada in 1997 while still working for InFocus and lived and worked there for six years before moving to Chicago in 2003 to start his career at NEC.
Now, his work consumes much of his time. He travels all around the world, going to Latin America and Japan almost four times a year, with a lot of flying in North America. He has THREE MILLION air miles. That’s a lot of flying.
Pierre is all over the place and is one of the hardest working men in the AV industry. But the truth is, as important as his work is to him, there’s something way more important to him outside of work — his family. But he’s no ordinary husband and dad.
Pierre and his wife, Linda, met while working at Canadian Pacific Railway 31 years ago. Pierre was an office person working on medical benefits for retirees and Linda was an assistant. They met, fell in love, got married, had children and moved to the U.S. (They both are still Canadian citizens and have green cards.)
Pierre and Linda have three children, Sarah (23), Jeremy (21) and Elliot (19). Sarah is currently studying to be a special education teacher at Benedictine University; Jeremy and Elliot are active boys who love sports, dancing, and yes, even cheerleading. They also both have Fragile X syndrome, one of the most common causes for mental and developmental disabilities seen in boys.
Having special needs brothers is what inspired Pierre’s daughter Sarah to go into special needs education. And having special needs sons is what inspires Pierre on a daily basis.
“My boys have given me a great lesson in life,” said Pierre. “They are always happy. When you find out that a son has a developmental disability, let alone both sons, you think the sky is falling. But a couple years later, you see your boys always laughing and smiling. Then I guess it can’t be that bad. You learn that it’s just not the end of the world.
“Anything really. Anything that happens in business or money, is just not the end of the world. When you live and cope with a personal challenge like that, you realize that most of life’s challenges are pretty minor.”
Pierre spends as much time as he can with his sons. Both Jeremy and Elliot are active in the Chicago chapter of the Special Olympics and Pierre is at every meet and event he can attend.
The boy’s favorite sport is basketball. Track and field, volleyball and softball fall not too far behind. Jeremy’s motor skills are a little stronger than Elliot’s. While they both play sports, Elliot’s real passion is in dancing and cheerleading.
Pierre has also learned other ways to spend quality time with his sons. He takes them to the Chicago Bears games. The boys love watching the games and even getting to know Pierre’s coworkers.
And within the last year, Jeremy has begun playing golf with his dad. Pierre started playing golf at age 12. He was a stereotypically great hockey player growing up in Canada, but admittedly, had a bit of a bad temper. He may have thrown his golf clubs a few times thinking he was on the hockey rink. Pierre’s father reminded him that he needed to “behave on the golf course” — and so Pierre gave up golf for a while.
At the age of 20, Pierre picked it back up again and now takes it a lot more seriously. He has a membership at a local club and spends a good amount of time playing with customers.
But what he really loves is spending time almost every weekend out on the golf course with his son. “Jeremy just loves to be with me at anytime and he loves sports, so golf seemed like something he’d enjoy,” he said. “Jeremy plays pretty well! He has some fine motor skill challenges so putting can be tough, but he enjoys just getting out there. I like playing with him because, unlike playing with customers, it’s the only time I actually don’t think of business. I just get to hit balls, relax and spend time with my son.”
It’s clear that Pierre loves the AV industry and he loves his job at NEC. But what’s clearer is he loves being a husband to a wonderful wife and a dad to three very special children even more.
Molly Stillman is the director of marketing and new business development for rAVe [Publications]. Reach her at email@example.com
Do you know someone in the industry with an interesting story that should be featured in our monthly column? Email Molly and let her know.