Business Units Built from Basics
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jul 01, 2015
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Security Today.