The Home Automation and Networking Association (HANA) the sponsor of one of the largest home networking conferences in the industry, has joined forces with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

CEA will assume the sponsorship of the Electronic House Expo, a trade show and conference for installers, builders, contractors and distributors, starting with the spring show March 6-9 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The show, which is in its third year, is recognized as the fastest-growing event in the home automation industry.

“The Spring 2001 Electronic House Expo grew about 35% in both exhibit space and attendance,” said John Galante, vice president of EH Events and Education, the producer of the Electronic House Expo. “For the Fall Expo, we tripled our exhibit space and doubled our attendance.”

HANA, a 12-year-old Washington, D.C.-based trade association, became Arlington, Va.-based CEA's new Home and Networking (HAN) Division when the two associations merged on Jan. 1. HANA's president, Duane Paulson, will serve as the chair of the HAN division. HANA's 500 members will all benefit from the merger of CEA and HANA and will have more access to market research, Galante said.

“The home automation and networking companies are going to have an organization with more resources and expertise behind them,” he said. “It should mean higher quality programs and faster development of the market for those products.”

Galante said the merger allows the two associations to draw on their strengths and work together to promote the home networking industry.

“The primary constituency of HANA has been automation and networking companies both at the manufacturing and at the trade level,” Galante said. “CEA has strength of membership in categories such as audio and video. All of that is coming together in the home ultimately so the industry sectors should be able to cooperate more effectively in this context.”

Previously, CEA merged with the Mobile Electronics Association and the Home Theater Industries Association. CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said both mergers helped grow important industry segments, and that the merger with HANA will also strengthen the home automation industry.

“Joining our strengths and expertise with HANA's will truly make CEA the home for all parties interested in this exciting sector and position this category for explosive growth,” he said.