Contractors: 'A good marriage'

June 1, 2000
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The straw poll is in and the results are positive. Service Experts’ contractors interviewed by The News agree that the announced purchase of Service Experts by Lennox will be good for the company and will give them better opportunities for growth.

“The [acquisition] gives us more cash flow to do some of the things we’d like to do,” said Scott Getzschman of Getzschman Heating & Sheet Metal, Fremont, NE. “It takes a weight off of our shoulders.

“It’s hard to keep focused on your work when in the back of your mind you know your company is not doing as well as it is expected to do.”

What caught Getzschman off guard was the fact that the news was such a well-kept secret. “It’s been real quiet. I was just in Nashville [Service Experts’ corporate headquarters] last week and there was no mention of it.”

Tom DiPietro of Climate Design Systems, Inc., Haverhill, MA, agreed that the news was good, stating that the general feeling from his employees was “euphoric.”

“The merger is the only thing in the world that makes sense,” he said. “I told Alan Sielbeck [Service Experts’ ceo] months ago that it made no sense that two companies with the same marketing strategy and customer base should be competing with each other. It’s a good marriage.”

For Bill Fraser Sr., of Fras-Air Contracting, Inc., Manville, NJ, the merger agreement was the best news he has heard in months. His business is still trying to recover from Hurricane Floyd’s wrath (The News, Oct. 25).

“I had a feeling it would happen,” said Fraser. “Service Experts is in tune with what Lennox wants — the residential business. I think it is great. We have the experience in running a contracting business operation, whereas Lennox does not.”

Fraser noted that one of his competitors in nearby Edison was just purchased by Lennox. That contractor will now become a partner and give Lennox a strong foothold in the region.

Line changes?

Apparently, the contractors will not be asked to relinquish their traditional lines and switch to Lennox. DiPietro, himself a Lennox dealer for 53 years, had some insights.

“We were told not to do anything that will negatively affect our business,” said DiPietro. “They don’t want us to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Getzschman agreed with DiPietro.

“As general managers, we have to make good business decisions,” he said. “For some, especially those who have relied on one brand name for many years, it would be suicide to drop their line and say that they are strictly a Lennox dealer now.”

Laura Pearman of Allstate/Service Experts, Tampa, FL, believes it will be a positive move for Service Experts, but “We’ll still go out every day and do the same thing. I still haven’t had time to digest it all.”

Pearman added that her company has gone through a lot of changes recently, from being a small independent company six months ago, to consolidation with Service Experts, and finally to consolidation with Lennox.

“I’m just a little bit shell-shocked right now,” she said.

In Canada, where Lennox has been actively buying up independent Lennox dealers, the news didn’t surprise contractor Roger Grochmal, owner of Atlas Air, Mississauga, ON. Grochmal is also chairman of ClimateCare, a group of independent Canadian hvac contractors. He and other ClimateCare members have seen the loss of member contractors to Lennox in the recent past.

“I think this second wave of consolidation was inevitable,” he said. “I was a little more surprised to learn that Service Experts was having some problems.

“I’m not sure how Lennox can become a retailer while being a manufacturer. I don’t know how they can benefit from this acquisition. It represents a big chunk of retail business with a lot greater risk [than manufacturing].”

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