Independent Contractor Thrives

September 19, 2000
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
ST. LOUIS, MO — Most of the industry probably knows Butch Welsch. The owner of Welsch Heating & Cooling has been highlighted in previous News articles and has served both SMACNA and ACCA in leadership roles. His $15 million, 115-member new construction and replacement business puts him in an enviable position — enviable to consolidators, that is.

Welsch, who has owned and operated his business for 38 years, is an outspoken critic of the consolidation movement and has watched, with great interest, the drama unfolding with Service Experts and Lennox.

“It’s been interesting [in St. Louis],” said Welsch. “The local Service Experts contractor, who was bought by Lennox, has been sold back to the former owners. There is no Service Experts presence in St. Louis now.

“We have had an excellent relationship with Lennox, but I have also expressed my concerns [about their alliance with Service Experts]. I think there is a conflict of interest there. I’ve taken steps to cement my relationship with Bryant and Rheem.”

Welsch added that he had opportunities to get in with ARS on the ground floor but said, “We have no intention of selling to anybody.”

He watched as consolidator Blue Dot moved into the St. Louis market by acquiring an area contractor, but he hasn’t noticed any change in the way the company is doing business. He thinks there aren’t too many hvacr contractors in his market that are attractive to consolidators, maybe because St. Louis is a union town, not typical of consolidator acquisitions, or for another reason.

“Consolidators have bought up all of the companies they wanted — the buyable ones,” he said. But he pointed out that buying contractors does not ensure overnight success.

“When consolidators have to start making a profit instead of buying one, there are going to be problems,” he said. “There seems to be a stronger drive to make quarterly earnings rather than positioning one’s business for two or three years from now.”

Owner Exodus

Welsch blames some of the early consolidator failures on the exodus of former owners. “They [consolidators] needed the former owners to run the companies but instead, the owners exited.”

Welsch said that as a result of the “ownership migration,” customer service has suffered. “People like calling you up and talking to a real person,” he said. “They don’t like this new way consolidators are running their businesses.”

He added that a recession or a downturn in the economy will hurt consolidators who have “got to work hard to keep the stock value up.”

Welsch thinks his successors will come from within his company and that the future owners will work hard to keep the company traditional and independent. He is very confident that Welsch Heating & Cooling will thrive, and welcomes the challenge from consolidators.

“Seven hundred more consolidators in town would be a good thing for us,” he quipped.

Publication date: 09/25/2000

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

Recent Articles by John Hall

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.


NEWSMakers: Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. and author of “The One Week Marketing Plan” talks about his book and the importance of HVAC blogging. Posted on Sept. 19.

More Podcasts


NEWS 09-15-14 cover

2014 September 15

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Venting R-22

The NEWS reported that a man received prison time for venting R-22. Should EPA step up enforcement?
View Results Poll Archive


2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con