Leviton Manufacturing Co., headquartered in Little Neck, NY, has acquired the Tualatin, OR-based NSI Corporation. NSI, which manufactures portable lighting control and dimmer systems through the music industry for live entertainment applications, and its Colortran division are now part of the Leviton Lighting Control Division, which is based in Atlanta. Terms were not disclosed, but both parties expressed satisfaction with the deal.
"It was always in our long-range plan to do something creative with the business," says Terry White, NSI's senior vice president of marketing, who in 1986 cofounded NSI with president/CEO Larry Lynn and senior vice president of engineering Robert Hick. "Over the years, we've been contacted by different investors, offering to help us run NSI, but we simply weren't interested. We got a friendly phone call from Leviton late last summer saying they were looking to do something different with their controls division, and that we appeared to fit their profile. Were we interested? At that time, absolutely not."
But last fall, after another "friendly, down-to-earth" phone call from Leviton, NSI decided it was sincere in its intentions. "They laid out a plan that pretty much matched our buyer profile: Leviton is part of our industry (the company bought, in 1997, an Austin, TX-based architectural dimming systems maker, Macro Electronics), it wanted to keep our 80 employees and our facilities intact, in Oregon, and not move us or lay anyone off, and it does intend to keep the NSI and Colortran names alive in the marketplace."
Joining Leviton was a pragmatic decision, White adds. "We'd done a good job, particularly in research and development, and in bringing Colortran on, but this step brings us to a level where we can increase our marketing and engineering output much quicker. We need to fill in some holes, particularly concerning architectural products, and now our timeline is much shorter for that."
David Harrison, general manager and vice president of the Leviton Lighting Control Division, says the unit was particularly interested in the Colortran line of control, dimming, and fixtures for stage and studio applications. "We really had a need to get into the theatrical market, particularly regarding the university and high schools segment, which is substantial. If you don't have a theatrical presence for the applications in those markets, you can't bid the jobs." He laughs, "In the lighting industry these days, everyone's impatient to develop technology, so the best way to get it is to acquire it."
Look for the companies to "invent the next wheel," in Harrison's words, with new products for the digital age and continued aggressive marketing of existing equipment like the NSI Colortran Innovator series of lighting controls. "They're buying a company they don't need to worry about, and I think they're happy with the three of us, since they kept us around," White laughs.