Leviton Buys HAI – But, Stupidly, Keeps It a Separate Company

leviton-hai-0812Leviton this week announced it has purchased Home Automation, Inc. (HAI) – giving Leviton customers access to HAI control system products. Exciting? Yes! Well planned? No.

“Leviton’s acquisition of HAI represents a significant expansion of our offerings in the residential market, and furthers Leviton’s commitment to providing customers with the latest technologies as affordable, easy-to-use solutions,” said Daryoush Larizadeh, chief operating officer of Leviton. “Leviton and HAI are two established brands coming together to offer a complete whole home automation solution that customers can trust.”

HAI will operate as a new, standalone business unit, branded HAI by Leviton, and maintain operations in New Orleans. The new business unit will be managed by Jay McLellan, current CEO and president of HAI, who will report directly to Daryoush Larizadeh. HAI product lines will soon be available through Leviton’s U.S. and international channel partners and distributors. Leviton also plans to provide its builder and contractor network with the necessary training for installing HAI systems.

“We are proud to be part of the Leviton team, joining a company with a rich history and well-established brand,” added Mr. McLellan. “Through the combined technologies from Leviton and HAI, we anticipate continued growth and innovation in the home automation space, providing homeowners with additional advancements for years to come.”

This is a smart move for Leviton as it makes them a complete control system manufacturer now. But should they keep them as a separate company? I don’t think so.

The Leviton brand is worth 10, no, 20 times more than the HAI brand. Leviton is a well established brand, but HAI is that set of letters that, unless you’re already an HAI dealer, you don’t really know what the company is. So I think Leviton needs to bring HAI in-house and roll its products into the Leviton brand completely. Keep its as a product line, not a separate company. Leverage the Leviton name since HAI’s brand isn’t as valuable.

Still not convinced? OK, here’s part two of my argument then: Keeping them two companies does NOTHING to help the integration community. Nothing. The integrators will still have to deal with two separate support teams, place two separate orders and design systems using two separate designers – one from each company. So, to the CI, this provides no benefit.

This is unfortunate since, not only is the Leviton brand strong, but the HAI product line is good, even though it’s not as well known.

Gary Kayye is the founder of rAVe [Publications]. Reach him at gary@ravepubs.com