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Leviton Acquires Home Automation Inc.

After trying for years to build out its own home-automation ecosystem, electrical giant Leviton Mfg. finally acquires 27-year-old industry leader HAI.


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Leviton Manufacturing has acquired Home Automation Inc., in a deal that will leave many wondering: What took so long?

“Leviton and HAI are two established brands coming together to offer a complete whole home automation solution that customers can trust,” says Leviton COO Daryoush Larizadeh, who orchestrated the deal.

Based in Melville, N.Y., Leviton is a giant in lighting (automated and old-fashioned) and other electrical products, plus structured wiring, networking products, metering solutions and most recently solar power and electric car charging.

Home Automation Inc. (HAI), is a long-established provider of affordable security/home automation that likely has more systems installed in U.S. homes than any other brand. While HAI may get out-hyped by AMX, Control4, Crestron, Elan, RTI, Savant and other home-control brands, the New Orleans-based organization is one of the longest-running home control companies serving the mainstream market.

The personal and professional relationships between Leviton and HAI span at least two decades.

HAI founder Jay McLellan is “elated,” he told CE Pro in an exclusive interview. “We fit so perfectly into their organization.”

The Synergies


There is little overlap and huge synergies among the two companies. McLellan sees great opportunities in Leviton’s small commercial division, and is looking forward to using HAI to control Leviton’s metering systems and alternative energy solutions. HAI itself has a major presence in the utility demand response movement.

In addition, says McLellan, HAI will be able to tap into Leviton’s wireless lighting solutions including Z-Wave (Vizia line) and ZigBee. In the past, HAI has shied away from ZigBee-enabled light switches due in part to patent issues with Lutron; however, Leviton has the requisite licensing for the full-reporting RF technology.

Another big plus for HAI: Leviton has some pretty slick industrial designs (and designers), especially compared to HAI’s own.

McLellan cops to HAI’s sometimes inelegant designs: “You know who did all of our stuff? We did.”

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HAI will be exhibiting at CEDIA Expo 2012 "and will show some new branding," says McClellan. "But it's coming up so quickly, we won't have too much to show" from the Leviton acquisition.
HAI, Booth 3449
Psst...Use #cediacepro to get our attention
McLellan likes that Leviton is privately held and didn’t acquire HAI just to squeeze some short-term gains out of them.

“The nice thing about being acquired by a private company,” he says, “is that they’re making long-term decisions, not quarterly.”

The other nice thing? Leviton is loaded, with revenues in the high hundreds of millions. HAI is a lean machine, growing slowly over the years by plowing profits into the business. Now the home automation company will have some real money for marketing and product development.

What Leviton gains is a nimble home automation company with a long track record – pretty much the big gaping hole that Leviton sorely needed to fill.

On its own, the company has tried many times to launch a comprehensive home control line, scrapping at least three major initiatives along the way. Eventually they would buy HAI, and now they have.

As for McLellan, he is staying on as general manager of the home control group, and HAI co-founder Tom Pickral is also staying with the company. Leviton's Larizadeh will oversee the group.

“For us, it’s a fresh beginning,” McLellan says, noting that all new beginnings come with a fresh set of problems: “I’ll have a boss for the first time in 27 years. On the other hand, I don’t have to worry about the things that usually keep me up at night.”




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Lighting · Mergers and Acquisitions · Leviton · Acquisition · Hai By Leviton · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
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. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

16 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Sombody Somewhere  on  08/01  at  06:17 PM

LOL, McLellan is no longer the “40 year old virgin”...funniest CEA TecHome presentation ever!

Posted by wi3inc  on  08/02  at  07:25 AM

Congrats to Jay!

Posted by Tuck  on  08/02  at  07:33 AM

I wish the endeavor well. However, this likely means that HAI will now be whored to even more places making it less profitable than ever before. My biggest complaint with HAI, aside from their dated looking designs of EVERYTHING, has been you can source it from just about every website online.

Looking forward to new products from the most powerful automation board on the market. HAI has always been a favorite as far as capabilities.

Posted by Fins  on  08/02  at  07:39 AM

One word: Armada

Posted by Scotty Dont  on  08/02  at  07:47 AM

Will the leviton plate colors finally match the HAI stuff now ?  LOL

Posted by Ray Casey  on  08/02  at  07:56 AM

Finally and the timing is GREAT!  This is will ultimately be the synthesis that will lead to the defacto leaders in approachable, affordable and usable Home Automation.  All they need to do now is partner with the right software company (Intel/Arm based computer) and service provider (alla At&T).  And they will go big.  But the key is SOFTWARE and API’s/SAAS.  If they don’t nail that then they will fail.

To draw on another industry parallel, it was like Honda/Toyota starting in the low end market place and then branching out to the high end, aka Lexus and Acura, which they now dominate re volume.  But that still leaves a open spot for the BMW’s and Audi’s so the follow up question is who will fill that spot?  Not Crestron, Savant or AMX as they have already priced themselves out of that market and they will never be able to position themselves as consumer friendly, software/service centric.  Someone new perhaps?

Posted by BobG  on  08/02  at  07:57 AM

I was a little shocked by this news at first but this could be a really good thing in the long run, as long as HAI doesn’t start showing up in Lowes.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/02  at  08:01 AM

Frankly, who cares where HAI is sold? They’ve been available online to anyone/everyone for about a decade. I sure as heck wouldn’t buy/install one myself!

Posted by Peter Brady  on  08/02  at  08:22 AM

Congratulations to Jay and the HAI team on a bold move.  In this business, survival mandates continuous innovation and action,  and this is exactly that - for sure.  Wish you well!

Posted by Michael Pope  on  08/02  at  09:11 AM

Congrats to Jay and his HAI Team! I have gotten to know Jay personally over the years through our involvement in CEA together. He is a credit to our industry and will be a great asset to Leviton.

Jay, I hope you still get to go the CEA Econmic Retreat!  cool smile

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  08/02  at  09:18 AM

So my comment isn’t misconstrued ... I would put one in my house, but I certainly wouldn’t do it myself. Neither would your customers.

Posted by Happy Go Lucky  on  08/02  at  09:45 AM

Julie,

Let me know if you need a good installer wink

Posted by motorsportus  on  08/02  at  10:49 AM

You know this will mean a whole new group of electricians that think they can now install automation and AV. Exactly what the emerging market does not need more unqualified integration companies and installers, buying products from large electrical distributors. The exact same issue surfaced with the relationship between Savant and Lutron. Every electrician that could sell Lutron suddenly became a Savant dealer, and the poor system designs, and horrible installations began.

Posted by Rob Schultz  on  08/02  at  12:06 PM

A rising tide lifts all ships. If Leviton/HAI gain gain more traction in the automation market, and that involves commoditizing parts of the line, that’s overall good for the industry.

The fact that consumers can buy cheap speakers doesn’t prevent dealers from upselling to better ones, with installation, based on value - in fact, it whets the appetite of some to step up to the services and products you sell. Of course, there are plenty of people who will never spend the money to buy “really good stuff, installed by qualified techs”, in the same way that there are plenty of people who will never spend the money to buy a Mercedes or Lexus. But the luxury car market is a niche market, and so is the custom installation market.

If Leviton / HAI drive automation into the mainstream, that will increase the base of affordable home automation installations (DIY, low-end installers), and that will almost certainly trickle up to the luxury niche.

Posted by 39 Cent Stamp  on  08/02  at  07:38 PM

I can’t think of a single instance where a “niche market” automation company/product was purchased by a larger company and the outcome was positive.

“Lets skip some steps and jump right in.”
“Geez no profit yet? Its been like 2 weeks.”
“Close it down and write it off. Maybe we can get a few grand for the domain name.”

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