I sat down with Savant president, JC Murphy, to discuss Hyannis, MA-based manufacturer Savant Systems’ pending acquisition of GE Lighting and its implications for builders and multifamily companies. Announced on May 27 and set to close June 30, the deal combines Savant’s smart home control and AV product expertise with GE Lighting’s product portfolio of lighting fixtures, sources and controls, its global manufacturing scale and a top 10 global brand, setting the stage for Savant’s arrival as a true platform provider for every level of the new home market.
The origins of the deal date back more than a year when Savant and GE initially began discussions about a strategic alliance. GE had launched a brand called C by GE to start bringing intelligence into their lighting and lamp business and approached Savant to see if there was a partnership opportunity. “They were very interested in an expansion of the GE Lighting business and moving into more of a connected home business,” explains Murphy. At the same time, GE progressed in its vision to shed consumer-facing businesses and focus on industrial infrastructure technologies. “As we got to know the team and a better understanding of the corporate strategy of GE, we quickly realized that there were some amazing assets and capability inside of the GE Lighting team.”
But the acquisition is as much about brand power and capability to scale as it is about expanding a portfolio of products. Savant is gaining a long-term license to use the GE brand in the TecHome market, and, according to Murphy, it’s likely it will be deployed in the middle market not only for lighting, but also home controls, AV and energy storage and distribution that would typically be offered under the Savant or Savant subsidiary, RacePoint Energy brands. Murphy understands that builders working that band of the market crave the buyer comfort and confidence that come with a recognizable brand like GE for their home tech standards and upgrades. In the luxury/custom market, the more exclusive, cache of the Savant brand will carry forward, potentially with an enlarged portfolio of lighting fixtures and sources to add to the systems mix.
Being able to address the middle market is one thing, being able to manufacture and deliver in the larger unit volumes that come with that market is another. Murphy points to GE Lighting’s global manufacturing scale as another key asset that will give Savant the capacity to serve the sprawling middle market. “We know builders up and down the scale are very cost conscious,” says Murphy, “so this started to really pique our interest in saying, hmmm, if this asset is available, what would that mean if that was really part of the Savant family in terms of [keeping] manufacturing costs down and high-focus on quality.”
With regard to builder and multifamily relationships, Murphy and team are ready to create a method of working with builders that would customize not only product line-up (ranging from Savant and GE made products to their connected ecosystem partners in categories like AV, HVAC, IAQ, appliances, etc.), but also process supports in categories like marketing and sales training, jobsite labor and customer care. “When you think about smart living and smart home and connected technology, there isn’t a big brand that’s out there in the space. There’s a lot of point solutions from a lot of big important companies, but nobody is taking this step to basically say ‘hey, I’m going to deliver a smart living experience–a smart home experience–across an ecosystem of products with a very recognized brand’… that is something that we are looking at relative to the builder space.”
That’s the real promise of a platform provider – depth and range of product, depth and range of process support and a determination to collaborate with each builder or multifamily company you work with to meet their unique needs.
To see the full interview, click here.