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Analysis: Control4 and SnapAV Complete Merger

What we’ve learned about how the merged companies will operate.

Remember that morning way back in May when you woke up to the bombshell announcement that SnapAV acquired Control4 in an all-cash transaction of roughly $680 million and that the two companies were merging together? Yeah, #MindBlown

Well, today that merger is officially completed.

This means that Control4 is now a brand in SnapAV’s portfolio, much like SunBrite, Autonomic, and Visualint, which the company previously acquired. This results in a combined 1200 employees across the companies, with more than 18,000 dealers worldwide servicing more than 1 million homes. That’s some real industry firepower.

The executive team will feature a combination of Control4 and SnapAV executives, which SnapAV CEO, John Heyman, described as “passionate and professional.” Key among them is former Amazon Alexa executive and Control4 senior VP of Products and Services, Charlie Kindel, who will be at the helm of product and technology efforts. Kindel has been with Control4 nearly a year now, and brings with him a 30-year background working with some of the largest CE companies, including a 21-year stint at Microsoft.

I had an opportunity to speak with both Heyman and Kindel about what dealers can expect from these companies now that the merger is complete.

Related: Speculating on the Control4/SnapAV Merger

Professional Installation
SnapAV and Control4 remain firmly committed to supporting the professional installation channel. Heyman described the smart and connected home industry as “the most exciting spot in the global economy” and that with consumers spending over $100 billion a year on combined devices and solutions, he feels that SnapAV and Control4 are “at the tip of the iceberg for this demand” and that the companies “fully complement each other and are uniquely positioned and capable to deliver on this vision to dealers and consumers.”

“The smart home industry is poised for massive growth, and much of that growth will be driven and satisfied by professionals,” Heyman says. “The complexity of these systems in the future will continue to increase, with features arriving at a faster and faster rate, and the demand for professional services will soar along with it. We feel local, professional help is the way to solve this and we believe in the importance of professionally installed systems, and we are laying the groundwork to ensure those businesses succeed long into the future.”

Heyman adds, “Our shared Control4 and SnapAV conviction is that the smartest, most connected homes will be installed and supported by professionals that will serve a growing segment of consumers who want the ease of use and reliability that only a professionally installed smart home system can provide.”

Related: A Big Bet

Smart Home OS
Another factor that Heyman expects to play a key role in the company’s success is an operating system specifically designed to support all of these connected devices and services. “Having an OS for the home in the modern age is central to what Control4 is about.”

This goes hand-in-hand with Contol4’s recent massive rollout of its Smart Home OS 3, the largest and most significant upgrade in the company’s history.

“The number of connected devices in the home will continue to increase, [and] homeowners want help removing complexity so they can enjoy life at home more and manage technology less,” Kindel adds.

Product Distribution and Support
First off, here’s the answer to the biggie: Will we see Control4 pushed out to even wider distribution? Emphatically, no.

“Control4 will continue to be available only to authorized Control4 dealers,” Heyman assures. “We know how important this is and we won’t compromise any of the high standards required for dealer certification.”

For now, shipments and orders will continue as they currently do; you’ll order Control4 (and Pakedge and Triad) from Control4, and all SnapAV (and partner products) from Snap. However, the company is working hard to consolidate this over the coming months and quarters, and the hope is by some time next year for orders of all products to be placed at one location.

The company will also be evolving its e-commerce technology with the goal of letting dealers order online and then select whether to pick up product from a local distributor or select where it will ship from, and this is also expected to rollout next year with the goal of SnapAV becoming “the one place for dealers to come to get everything they need; all the best brands at one location. The combined portfolios will be made available through easy and convenient online ordering, industry-leading shipping, and local pickup,” according to Heyman.

The same goes for product support, with nothing changing immediately. Dealers will call Control4 and Pakedge for those issues, and SnapAV for those issues. However, like ordering, the plan is to merge all of these groups into one single source of support.

Related: Snap4 from a Crestron Dealer Perspective

Brand Redundancy
Between Triad and Episode, Araknis and Pakedge, and Luma, Visualint, and Pakedge, there is some definite overlap in the product offerings between the merged companies. For now, all brands in the combined product will continue to be supported, and dealers can use the solution that best fits their business needs.

“Dealers like choice and this remains a strong commitment,” Heyman assures. “For example, we’ll continue to offer a curated line of surveillance products to the industry, which will include multiple brands, but we are working out what the product mix will be.”

One area that sees the most overlap is in remote management services, with the combined companies now featuring disparate offerings such as OVrC, ihiji, and BakPak.

According to Kindel, “We recognize that these solutions have a lot of overlap and a lot of distinct capabilities, and we want to bring all of the capabilities to all of our dealers, and we believe we can. We are also committed to the investments our dealers have made so far, and making sure these won’t be lost and will continue to be supported. While we believe in customer choice, we think dealers appreciate one solution to all their remote management and monitoring needs. Keep using the services we offer today, we’re already starting to build on top of these world-class products.”

Regarding this, Heyman stresses that they are “committed to not leaving any dealers or customers behind. We have always done what is right for our dealers, and we will make sure that any decision made does not negatively affect any dealer.”

When “nudged,” Kindel offers that they have run some experiments to connect devices across platforms with “promising results,” but he said it was far too early to share details.

“We’re focused on what the right customer experience is, and the best way to provide it. We want end-customers to rave about our fantastic products and the great living experiences our dealers create with those products, fulfilling the true promise of the smart home,” Kindel says.

“Today is day one of this journey, and we are just getting started,” Heyman says. “SnapAV is committed to investing relentlessly in the success of its dealers and fueling broad industry growth to better serve our shared customers. We deliver the best support in the industry, all to give the dealer more. To deliver more profits, help them grow, help them create happier customers, make dealers’ and installers’ lives easier, and create better programs for dealers.”

While the companies won’t be sharing a booth at CEDIA in Denver this year, they will be in very close proximity to each other and will have a unified presence, and they invite all of their dealers to stop by.

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