Consolidators Make Changes

There were many ups, downs, and changes among the consolidators. One needed a scorecard to keep track of the conglomerates that were bought, sold, or inserted new management.

In early 2003, for instance, Encompass Services Corp. took steps towards completion of its restructuring by filing its Joint Plan of Reorganization and Disclosure Statement with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In a later move, Wellspring Capital Management LLC, a New York-based private equity investment firm, acquired Residential Services Group (RSG), a former division of Encompass Services. RSG, which is now headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, specializes in HVAC and plumbing services in new and existing residential homes. RSG now operates in the light commercial market, too. Eric Salzer, who headed Encompass' residential operations, was named CEO of RSG, which operates from 27 locations in nine states, with historical annual revenues of approximately $300 million.

In July, Scott Boxer was named president and chief operating officer of Service Experts, Lennox International's retail sales and service division. Boxer was formerly president of Lennox International.

Meanwhile, struggling Blue Dot Services Inc. completed the sale of six business locations during the third quarter of 2003 and said it had reduced the balance under its existing credit facility from $20 million to less than $10 million. The company also extended a forbearance agreement with its bank, as it continues to further reduce the outstanding balance under its credit facility.

In the fourth quarter of this year, the Riverside Company, a private equity firm with offices in New York, Cleveland, Dallas, and San Francisco, acquired the Dwyer Group, a holding company that owns six franchise businesses, including heating and air conditioning franchise organization Aire Serv. Doyle James, the president of Aire Serv, said the organization would continue to focus "on its franchisees providing a superior level of service that most customers expect but seldom receive from the heating and air conditioning industry."

On Oct. 13, American Plumbing and Mechanical Inc. (AMPAM) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced that the company intended to implement a restructuring plan. AMPAM and its subsidiaries focus on the residential HVAC service market and provide plumbing and mechanical system installations for the residential and commercial markets in 35 locations throughout the United States.

Just recently, GI Partners, a $526 million private equity fund, announced the acquisition of The Linc Group, a Houston-based provider of mission-critical facility management services, in a management-led buyout. Enron Energy Services formerly owned the Linc Group entities, most recently known as ServiceCo. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but were approved by the Enron bankruptcy court last month.

The Linc Group has four operating companies - Affiliated Business Services, Linc Corporation, Linc Service Holdings, and Integrated Process Technologies. Collectively, The Linc Group currently services over 15,000 facilities through a workforce totaling 1,400 employees. The Linc Group said it generates more than $170 million in services revenue annually.

Linc Corporation will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. The company is the franchisor of the Linc System®, a business format for operating HVAC service business. There are over 100 independently owned franchises.

Publication date: 12/29/2003

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