Nortek adds Elan to Thriving Electronics Group

Julie Jacobson · January 18, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I .—It’s been a hectic month for Nortek Holdings, Inc., a $1.9 billion manufacturer and marketer of building products, including range hoods, windows, doors, siding, indoor air quality systems and home electronics.

On December 12, the company announced a virtual merger between subsidiaries Multiplex Technology and Linear Corp. (see February CE Pro); on January 9, the formerly public entity completed its own sale to private investors; and on January 17 it acquired Elan Home Systems, a manufacturer of A/V distribution and home automation systems.

Elan will join Multiplex and Xantech as a wholly owned subsidiary of Linear Corp., itself a wholly owned subsidiary of Nortek.

Founded in 1989 as a division of Square D, Elan was acquired by management in 1995 and has since become one of the most popular providers of integrated A/V and automation systems in the $5,000-$15,000 range.

Elan occupies a unique position in that it is the only company that markets a full line of residential systems that can be sold as standalone devices or, better yet, combined to form an integrated whole-house solution.
Besides its product breadth and firm position in the home systems channel, Elan appealed to Nortek for another important reason: “They’re profitable,” says Grant Rummell, president of Linear Corp.

The acquisition rounds out the Electronics Group nicely, according to Rummell. “Our strategy is to be the biggest player in the entertainment field and home systems business,” he says, adding that Elan will continue to run as an independent entity.

“Independent” is the same status conferred upon Xantech, which lately has emerged as a competitor to Elan. In the past couple of years Xantech has gone decidedly upmarket with power amplifiers and A/V control systems, the likes of which compete with Elan’s offerings.

“They have similar feature sets but a different distribution strategy as ours,” says Elan president Bob Farinelli. “Do I see them as a threat? No, I see them as a partner….The branding that each of these three businesses [including Multiplex] has worked so hard to develop will remain three different brands.”

As for distribution, both Xantech and Multiplex distribute their wares through numerous security and automation outlets. In the past, Elan also sold through these channels, but plans to take a more dealer-direct approach in the future.

Elan had been owned by original investors Montgomery, Shelton & Co. (Winnetka, Ill.), along with Farinelli, Elan executive vice president Paul Starkey and a handful of others.

“Both Paul and I plan on sticking around for a good long time,” says Farinelli. “The fun has just begun.”

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  About the Author

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

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  Article Topics

News · Elan · Nortek · All Topics
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