Home Tech History: M&As by Nortek, Legrand, Duchossois, D&M
With its impending acquisition of Klipsch, Audiovox could follow the lead of Nortek, Legrand, Duchossois and D&M. We present a history of mergers and acquisitions among these leading home technology firms.
Over the years, Audiovox (Nasdaq: VOXX) has expressed an interest in the custom electronics channel, and it has been widely speculated that they would make acquisitions in the space.
We expect Klipsch to be just the beginning for Audiovox in the custom home electronics market, following in the path of Nortek, Legrand, Duchossois and D&M.
All of those organizations have acquired home technology companies over the past decade, with mixed results.
Here’s a recap of their M&A activity over the past decade.
Nortek famously has acquired many top brands in the custom electronics market over the past decade.
And, just as famously, they have failed to recognized synergies among the acquired groups, a fact that may have contributed to the holding company’s chapter 11 filing in 2009.
Nortek is now rationalizing its brands—for example by consolidating Elan, Niles and Xantech into the new Linear AVC group – and may very well be back in acquisition mode.
Nortek’s properties in the custom electronics category fall under the holding company’s Linear subsidiary, which is headed by Grant Rummell. Nortek’s foray into home technology largely began with its 1987 acquisition of Linear Corp, then a manufacturer of security systems and garage door openers.
Linear offers its own handy timeline of corporate events; here is our round-up of key Nortek/Linear acquisitions in the custom space, along with links to related stories:
- Linear – security, garage door openers (acquired by Nortek 1987)
- Multiplex Technologies (ChannelPlus, OpenHouse) - structured wiring, multiroom A/V (acquired 1999 | integrated into Linear 2008)
- Xantech – IR distribution, CE problem solvers (acquired 1999 | consolidated into Linear AVC 2010)
- Elan Home Systems (2003) - mid- to high-end home control and whole-house audio, video, communications (acquired 2003 | incorporates HomeLogic, Sunfire, Aton 2009 | consolidated into Linear AVC 2010)
- SpeakerCraft - speakers and multiroom audio (acquired 2003 | avoids Linear AVC roll-up 2010)
- Omnimount – TV mounts (acquired 2004)
- M&S Systems – central vacuum, intercoms (acquired 2004 | integrated into Linear 2008)
- Panamax – power protection and management (acquired 2005
- Niles Audio - speakers, universal remote controls, multiroom audio (acquired 2005 | consolidated into Linear AVC 2010)
- Imerge – media servers (acquired 2005 | closed 2010 | Sold to Prism Sound 2010)
- Sunfire – home theater speakers, electronics (acquired 2005 via Elan | Integrated more fully into Elan 2009)
- Furman – power management and conditioning (acquired 2006 via Panamax)
- Gefen – high-end video distribution (acquired 2006)
- LiteTouch – high-end lighting controls (acquired 2007)
- International Electronics Inc. (IEI) – access controls (acquired 2007)
- HomeLogic – mainstream IP-based home controls (acquired 2007 via Elan | folded into Elan with launch of G! automation system)
Nortek, D&M On Acquisition Trail
Based in Limoges, France, Legrand S.A. is a giant manufacturer of electrical products, with annual revenues of about €4 billion ($5.3 billion USD).
In the U.S. custom electronics world, we always knew them as the owners of Pass & Seymour, Wiremold and Ortronics—all large players in the electrical and low voltage infrastructure businesses.
And then in 2005 the company bought On-Q, arguably the largest structured wiring provider in the U.S., followed by the acquisition of Vantage Controls, which consistently ranks among the top five providers of whole-house automation and lighting controls.
Before and after it acquired On-Q, Legrand purchased Greyfox and UStec, respectively—both strong structured-wiring brands.
Legrand has actively sought to recognize synergies among its acquired properties. Greyfox, for example, was absorbed into On-Q. UStec partnered with Vantage at the high end. And On-Q is now called Legrand, a stronger brand among homebuilders, electrical contractors and other key partners.
Doug Fikse, one of the original owners of On-Q, heads the Legrand North America group of custom installation brands, including On-Q, UStec and Vantage.
- Greyfox – structured wiring (acquired 2001)
- On-Q - mainstream structured wiring, multiroom A/V (acquired 2005 | rebranded Legrand 2009 )
- Vantage Controls - high-end home automation and lighting controls (acquired 2006)
- UStec - high-end structured wiring (acquired 2007 via On-Q)
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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