Business Units Built from Basics

Business Units Built from Basics

New Orleans is a terrific destination city. It is filled with history, music and adventure. The city also has some amazing people, who have thrived in the business world through innovation and technology.

Jay McClellan is one such innovator.

Thirty years ago, McClellan founded a company called HAI (Home Automation Inc.) and within its expected business goals, he developed a comprehensive and award-winning line of products that coordinate security, as well as temperature, lighting and whole-home automation. He manufactured products, but his lifeline to the industry was through a comprehensive network of distributors and integrators.

“My partners and I had developed a home monitoring system but we also were interested in complete home automation, based on security,” Mc- Clellan said. “This included lights and temperature, which could be adjusted accordingly via the cell phone.

“We started door-to-door in New Orleans and worked with an installer. Word spread and a dealer from California came to us, which established interstate commerce. So, we really grew the company by establishing dealers.”

A Native Son

McClellan is a native New Orleanian, who ventured out and earned an electrical engineering degree at Georgia Tech. For a while he worked in commercial electronics fields of pipeline supervisory (SCADA) systems, marine control systems, building energy management and commercial electric metering. Then he started HAI, where he earned several product patents.

About three years ago, Leviton entered the picture, buying HAI lock, stock and barrel, but had the foresight to keep McClellen and his team gainfully employed. Leviton, a company with 109 years of business and only three CEOs in that time, knew the value of the distribution and dealer network. McClellan is the vice president of security and automation at Leviton.

One of the first orders of business was to build a new dealer support website, which gives valued integrators a behind-the-scenes look at the shop. When an integrator goes shopping, Leviton staff reviews the request and will typically provide approval one day later. This is a time-saving method for product information, providing knowledge-building access to such things as firmware updates, online training videos and easy-to-install manuals.

Five Star Dealers

Leviton elevates dealers with the Five Star Dealer program. It is designed to give Five Star dealers support and highlight top integrators who go above and beyond to meet customer expectations.

So, who is Leviton? The company has five business units that reach the residential, commercial and industrial markets, as well as offering hospitalgrade devices, lighting and energy solutions, and network solutions. The New Orleans office is responsible for all security and automation for the company. Leviton has a global reach with corporate headquarters in Melville, N.Y.

While Leviton security is located in the New Orleans area, the manufacturing plant is north and east about 30 miles. When integrators or end users come to New Orleans, they want to see how the products work, in real time. A showroom and training facility was established in a historic building in downtown New Orleans, and what is now the city’s booming high-tech sector. It’s a beautiful facility that lays everything out so the integrator is able to see the installation up close and personal.

“We have multiple events here weekly,” said Rachel Cuccia, facility and events coordinator at the Leviton showroom. “Sometimes, there are two different meetings going on simultaneously and other times it’s a revolving door of one group leaving before the other enters. We also do have guests that come in just for the one hour tour of the facility.”

No doubt the showroom and Cuccia stay busy, but the overall impression with the showroom and tour always seems to exceed expectations. It doesn’t hurt that the facility space is quite stunning but also by the way each product interacts with the other, imitating real life settings.

“This facility give the customer a chance to see all of the many areas the we offer products,” Cuccia said. “Before the Innovation Center was available, some customers never knew everything we had to offer. It is much easier for the customer to understand the product when they are able to see it in operation.”

Tours are not just for the customer or end user. Cuccia said that every spectrum of the building industry has toured the facility, including architects, engineers, designers and electrical contractors, as well as security engineers.

Touching Point

For starters, entry into the facility is handled by a touchscreen. Access control is limited to those people who are already in the system and have permission to enter. There are no swipe cards to get that front door open.

“We’re able to know who is coming and who is going,” McClellan said. “This system uses Z Wave frequency to address all the commands. We also employ a speaker system through Leviton Hi-Fi and Harman Kardon speakers. If someone is on a property and shouldn’t be there, a pre-recorded message will invite them to vacate the premises.”

Leviton’s shining star in New Orleans is the Five Star Dealer Program, but Leviton also moves their products through distribution.

The reason is simply, “We have the support of our distributors.” This fact is extremely critical, McLellan said because the distribution channel has all compatible products that will work with Leviton, they have local stock, and most importantly, there is service staff to help the integrator. It also helps that if a product is not right, there is a place to return it to.

“We really have the best of both worlds,” McLellan said. “Using distribution we get all the things that a distributor is supposed to do for us.”

The Five Star Dealer program is a premium deal for integrators. Leviton will feed leads to dealers, and when someone calls a Leviton office wanting security assistance, these elite dealers get the information. That also includes any repairs, upgrades—all those things that typically happen.

Elite dealers also have access to the Leviton cloud, where information galore is stored to help benefit their business model, including access to technical support.

“We’re also able to bring in other specialties from the other Leviton business units,” said Greg Rhoades, the director of marketing security and automation at Leviton. “Because of our connection to the electrical business, we bring various levels of training to installing dealers, with focuses on security, energy and audio/video.”

Getting the Support

Dealers/integrators also get terrific support from Leviton, Rhoades said. “We offer them a more complete product that has additional and specific features.”

While the company is a manufacturer of goods, they offer the proper services to support the dealer/ integrator. Every year, Leviton rewards exemplary integrators that go above and beyond with services and product knowledge. Along with the sales leads, elite dealers have access to printed materials and exclusive promotions. Company officials have seen this payoff through product development and overall business operations.

Company officials picked the perfect spot for the security showroom. Following exposure to the dealer/integrator program, and the solutions, a visitor need only walk a few blocks to some of the finest dining in New Orleans. A good place to start is at Antoine’s, where talk of security solutions will meet Oysters Rockefeller.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Security Today.

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