RIP HAI, Home Automation Icon: CE Pro Wouldn’t Exist Without You

How Home Automation Inc. (HAI), now discontinued by Leviton, was responsible for the existence of CE Pro. Plus, photos from HAI and co-founder Jay McLellan in the early days.

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RIP HAI, Home Automation Icon: CE Pro Wouldn’t Exist Without You

HAI co-founder Jay McLellan, the iconic 1503 security and home-automation panel and the distribution business that launched CE Pro in 1994: Home Systems Plus.

Home Automation Inc. (HAI), maker of the iconic 1503 panel, is officially dead. Leviton acquired the home-automation company in 2012 and is now phasing out the security and smart-home system that launched a category in the 1980s.

HAI also was responsible for the birth of EH Publishing in 1994, which at the time comprised one wimpy little black-and-white consumer rag called Electronic House, boasting some 2,000 subscribers. EH went on to publish in full-color and eventually became a pioneering and iconic brand in the smart-home sector.

I was a co-founder of EH Publishing with long-time CEO Ken Moyes. Together with EH editor Lisa Montgomery, we launched HA Pro, the first trade publication for home-tech pros. We changed the name to CE Pro a few years later.

So What Does HAI Have to Do with CE Pro?

Prior to EH Publishing, co-founder Ken Moyes was CEO of a big security distribution firm called Arius that rivaled ADI in size at the time. I worked in marketing at Arius back then.

Ken was pals with HAI co-founder Jay McLellan and the two got to talking about bringing HAI into the security channel.

Oh what a learning curve that would be! But Jay and Ken shook hands on a deal to launch a home-automation training program for prospective dealers, and Home Systems Plus was born.

Related: The History of CE Pro

With HAI, Channel Plus and Xantech (and maybe Leviton?) signing on as inaugural partners, we launched a 4-day training event for which dealers paid $695 to attend. X10 was all the rage. Don’t ever underestimate the powerline-carrier technology’s contribution to the industry.

HSP was successful. Ken saw Electronic House at a newsstand and liked the brand. He called the owner, asked to license the brand, and ended up buying the whole darn thing for a song, thinking the Arius board would approve the deal.

The Arius board didn’t. Ken kept the property. Arius was sold. Ken and I left to start EH Publishing.

HAI bought ads, along with Unity Systems, Mastervoice, several distributors and perennial back-page benefactor ITI, the pioneering wireless-security company that would become Interlogix, then GE Security, then Interlogix again.

And that, my friends is why we wouldn’t be here if not for HAI and Jay McLellan.

HAI FROM 1980s & BEYOND: VIEW THE SLIDESHOW

See what Leviton has been up to … CEDIA Expo 2019