Elan, Niles, Xantech Combine into ‘One Integrated Unit’
Mark Terry, former president of Harman Pro Group, is named president of the new Linear Audio, Video & Control Group
Niles, Xantech and Elan have been cousins under the Linear/Nortek umbrella for several years. Now they’re more like brothers and sisters in a new family called the Linear Audio, Video & Control Group.
According to the press release, the companies are combining “into one integrated unit that will create the next generation of state-of-the-art whole house automation, lighting, security and HVAC control system solutions.”
Mark Terry, former president of the Harman Pro Group, has been named president of the group, reporting to Grant Rummell, chairman of Linear LLC.
“Surely this can’t be a surprise,” says Bob Farinelli, president of Elan Home Systems, which also owns Aton, HomeLogic and Sunfire. “With all of these companies doing similar things in the same space, the question is: Why did it take so long? It made sense to do it when times were good, but we were all too busy. It makes even more sense now.”
Indeed, times are tough for parent company Nortek, which recently emerged from Chapter 11. The subsidiaries, like much of the economy, have suffered with the crumbling new-construction market. Combining the companies—whatever that means—is expected to save money.
All three of them – acquired over the years by the Linear subsidiary of Nortek—make loudspeakers, multiroom audio systems and home controls. And they all serve the custom installation channel almost exclusively.
“As each company became part of the [Linear] group, we looked at catalogs and swapped things back and forth,” Farinelli says.
But the synergies generally stopped there until 2007, when a group of five Linear companies, including Linear itself and SpeakerCraft, teamed up to create the Digi5 multiroom audio platform. Elan (Aton), Linear and Xantech all make products based on the digital audio-over-Cat 5 technology.
With that initiative, says Farinelli, “We proved we could do more together than just swap stuff from our catalogs.”
What it Means for Niles, Xantech & Linear
Mark Terry was not available for an interview today, and it was not entirely clear from Farinelli how the new organization will differ from the old way of doing things.
Farinelli spoke about the “opportunities to trade technology between these brands so we don’t have duplication – very similar to Digi5,” but would not elaborate further.
Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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