What Do I Think of Legrand Buying Milestone AV?

Legrand announced the acquisition of Milestone AV early this morning but the rumors of a Milestone AV purchase had been flying for weeks. (Here’s a link to our breaking news story.) There was no question they were selling, but this is a merger of two giant, awesome companies. I can see nothing but fantastic things about this acquisition. Why?

First off, Milestone AV is well run. Scott Gill, the CEO of Milestone, is one of the smartest people I have ever met. And, he’s surrounded himself with a bunch of savvy and detail-oriented winners in Laurie Englert, Troy Peifer and Karen Smidt. And in case you haven’t noticed, they have the best system of integrated brands (behind the scenes with its ERP system) of any of the multi-brand companies. The company’s website, CMS and relationship-management systems are all connected — across brands — as is its order processing infrastructure. This was intentional. I remember the week Milestone started this project — I happened to be there at the headquarters in Minnestoa then helping start a social media marketing plan — and the plan was flawless. Even Legrand doesn’t have this, so in reality, Legrand is “buying-up.” Yes, all the brands that Milestone AV has — companies like Da-Lite, Vaddio, Sanus, Projecta and Chief — are great brands but the back-end systems that Milestone AV has set-up could very well be THE REASON that Legrand purchased them.

The announcement specifically mentioned that Legrand planned to put all the Milestone AV companies under the Middle Atlantic umbrella. As you may know, many of the Legrand brands are HomeAV-oriented while Milestone AV does well in excess of 80 percent of its business in the ProAV market, so the Middle Atlantic connection seems like a good decision.

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Milestone AV employs nearly 400 people and the company’s annual sales are in the range of $460 million. The transaction is worth $950 million based on enterprise value.

Congrats to the people of Legrand as they acquired one of the best run companies in the AV market — let’s just hope they keep those four top-tier people I mentioned above. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it employs one of the best salespeople in AV in Mark Coxon and one of the best content marketing people in AV too in Joel Hagen. Legrand needs to hold on to these two superstars as well.

Oh, and for all you cynics out there, NO Milestone AV is NOT currently a sponsor (and neither is Legrand) of rAVe. So, NO, I didn’t write this to brown-nose them. We don’t write puff pieces like that — we leave that up to all our competition as they regularly write puff pieces about their sponsors all the time. This piece is 100 percent my personal observation having worked with this team in various capacities (non-sponsor-related) over the past 10 years.

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..

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  • michael lisi

    Nice summary Gary. Interesting to hear about Milestone’s back-end logistics and how that could benefit Legrand’s other lines.

  • Frederick Ampel

    Looks great upfront. Only time will tell how the ‘Integration ” works”but Middle Atlantic is extremely well run and has remained a solid organization thru everything. It should be an upside for all.

  • Joel Hagen

    Aww, thanks for the kudos, Gary 🙂