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.
“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.”
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.”
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
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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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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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