Behind the Scenes: Why Legrand Acquired NuVo
Nuvo president David Rodarte (left), Legrand NA Home Systems Division president Doug Fikse
The acquisition follows a string of purchases from Legrand over the past decade. The French company owns Middle Atlantic (A/V racks), On-Q (structured wiring and communications), Ortronics (cabling solutions), Vantage Controls (lighting control and home automation), Pass & Seymour (electrical products), Watt Stopper (lighting and energy management) and Wiremold (cabling solutions), among other companies in the home and building automation/infrastructure space.
Both On-Q and Vantage already offer multiroom audio systems. On-Q’s products are “typically lower-end,” says Doug Fikse, president of the Home Systems Division of Legrand NA.
Vantage offers high-end home-integration products including audio, but the company has been “predominantly lighting control,” Fikse notes.
He adds that Vantage “has always had the desire to do more in audio, but it hasn’t really had the product portfolio. … We’re really strong in infrastructure and really strong in lighting control, but only moderately strong in audio and video.”
In comes NuVo, which specializes in audio and has a wide range of products for entry-level to higher-end.
“Some people are looking at multiroom audio as a dying category,” NuVo president David Rodarte tells CE Pro, but that’s simply not the case: “It’s just changed. Look at Sonos.”
Speaking of Sonos, what really excites Legrand, is NuVo’s forthcoming wireless audio system, expected to ship this month. In that solution, Legrand gets a two-fer: wireless technology and networking technology.
“It’s a fantastically new technology platform they’re launching that we can leverage in all products,” Fikse says. “People are really focused on the wireless features, but really it’s a networked platform. It’s very flexible.”
Legrand Brings Builder, Security, Electrical Markets
Legrand is entrenched in several important markets that can open plenty of new opportunities for NuVo.
For example, home builder Taylor Morrison has standardized on On-Q’s Unity System, an entry-level solution for surveillance, music and intercom.
Fikse tells CE Pro, “We’re working on effectively what will be the next generation of Unity. We’re looking at LyriQ [audio] and intercom – those all need to go to a next-generation platform.”
Legrand also has a large following among security dealers. Guardian Protection, for example, specs On-Q’s audio and intercom systems.
The security giant has been “buying our products for years,” Fikse says. “We want to be a bigger provider.”
RELATED: Legrand Acquires NuVo Technologies
In addition to builder and security channels, Legrand can introduce NuVo to more electrical channels.
“We’re really strong in electrical distribution,” Fikse says. “If you create a very simple system, you can be successful in those channels.”
Headquartered in France, Legrand also can open up new opportunities for NuVo in Europe, where the company offers “lots of products, but less in audio,” Fikse says.
A New Aesthetic for NuVo
NuVo has some elegant industrial designs, but Legrand has much more of it, thanks to European subsidiary Bticino, known for its enormous range of high-fashion keypads and controls (the latest collection is Adorne).
Legrand already showed us how Bticino is brings fresh designs to On-Q products, which were always utilitarian and not particularly sexy until Legrand came along. No doubt NuVo will benefit in the same way, possibly with a new line of keypads.
We saw the same thing with Savant Systems’ acquisition of LiteTouch, which has a large line of aesthetically pleasing switches. Savant already offered elegant touchscreens, but never really had nice, basic switches before LiteTouch came along. Now it does.
We can probably the same for NuVo.
“We’re trying to combine technology with channel with design,” says Fikse. “We’re trying to get back into the world where we’re spec’d into new homes.”
Legrand already has seen a “significant increase in enclosure sales,” Fikse says.
Sales of these structured-wiring cans “usually precedes other sales,” he says.
About Legrand and NuVo
Revenues for Legrand SA for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011, were 4.25 billion Euros ($5.43 billion).
NuVo Technologies, based in Hebron, Ky., near Cincinnati, will stay there after the acquisition. Asked about a Wall Street Journal article that pegged NuVo sales at about $20 million, Rodarte said the figure was “about right”
The company was formerly owned by Hanser Music Group, marker of Kustom amplifiers and B.C. Rich Guitars. Hanser spun off its Kustom Home Sound group in 2002 and formed a new corporation called NuVo Technologies.
The big question: Does this mean NuVo will no longer give away B.C. Rich guitars at trade shows?
UPDATE: NuVo marketing manager Desiree Webster says, “Of course we’ll keep the B.C. Rich guitars coming. It has become an expected tradition at the shows and it’s still our roots. We’ll pass out another 3 of them at ISE in Jan.”