Bradford’s Brain Balloons Column #0011 – Change is Constant

Note: Milestone and Middle Atlantic, a Legrand company, are underwriters of AVNation. Allow me to implicitly state that this column reflects my personal thoughts and should not be associated in any way with my employer, Harman.

Picture of a stack of coins for Bradford's Brain Balloon #0011 - Change is constant. A thought bubble says "Well, except from vending machines."

On June 28, 2017 Legrand announced that they are purchasing Milestone AV for US$950 million dollars. Legrand has made a press release and acquisition information available. The brands of Milestone are Chief, Da-Lite, Projecta, SANUS, and Vaddio. Currently Legrand owns at least 18 other brands in the infrastructure market. Bringing in these new brands looks to have limited overlap between products. Not completely without overlap, just not direct competitors for many of their brands. There are of course exceptions such as Chief, Middle Atlantic, and the consumer facing SANUS brands have very similar products. Projecta and Da-Lite have already been in the same projection surface markets, however they appear to have different markets and geographic focuses.

Now the question, what does this mean for the AV industry? For the next few weeks there will likely be no change to the public or even to the companies internally. This time includes review by regulators in both the United States and France. During this period there are rules about how the companies can interact. After the purchase is approved, what happens next is entirely up to Legrand. My belief is that they will start by concentrating on internal issues first, such things as how are financials and HR policies going to be integrated. Customers will likely not see many changes.

After that comes the items that will impact the marketplace and industry more directly. Legrand will define how they bring  Milestone to the market.  I have experienced  both working for the purchaser and the acquired company, this issue has had the most impact to the market. Will the representatives and distributors remain the same or will they be consolidated? How will the company handle similar if not competing products between the brands? According to the releases the brands will not be lost but Middle Atlantic and Milestone will form an AV Division. That could very likely include a change in leadership and product development plans.

I bring these issues up to let people know what is likely ahead. AVNation had a special on June 28 about these topics. During the discussion I went into more depth about what to expect. I do not want people to panic and start thinking items are going to change immediately. I don’t believe that there were cataclysmic changes when Middle Atlantic or Cables to Go were acquired. The biggest changes from those acquisitions were more products were available to more people.

Another issue we discussed is the consolidation of companies, what does it mean to the marketplace. I realized that using just Samsung and Legrand brands it is possible to create and install an entire audio, video, lighting, and control system. My first opinion is that this approach of one central supplier can be beneficial as items will work together easily. Many of us have been in a situation when Company A’s product will not interface with Company B’s product. Which company is responsible for making the project successful? If all the products are sourced from one company, there is one point of contact to address the issues.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Please feel free to add comments and take part in our poll about this purchase.

Bradford

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