Two established HVAC suppliers have merged. Motors & Armatures Inc. (MARS), a commercial and residential HVACR motors and components supplier established in 1946, recently acquired Heat Controller Inc., a commercial and residential HVAC equipment supplier with a history spanning more than 75 years.

Merging Manufacturers

Last fall, MARS hired an investment banker and began discussing potential growth options. The company started communicating with potential targets and shortly thereafter had reached an agreement with Heat Controller. The companies announced in May that they’d be joining forces.

“We began talking with Heat Controller, which, at the time, had expressed some interest in divesting. It seemed like a good match as the timing was perfect,” said Frank Mehler, vice president of marketing and sales, MARS. “This merger will create a larger presence and provide greater value to our customers through a larger parts and equipment offering.”

The acquisition represents MARS’s commitment to anticipate the needs of the marketplace and proactively invest in creating additional value for the customer, said Edward Chernoff, president and CEO, MARS. “This acquisition is a merger of equals. Two reputable companies are aligning in order to better serve HVACR customers, suppliers, and contractors,” he said. “MARS knows motors and components. Heat Controller knows equipment. The partnership is a natural fit.”

Regarding branding, very little will change. Heat Controller will continue to market its Comfort-Aire and Century brands, as will its Canadian division Aitons, but each will now do so as a MARS company. Heat Controller will continue to operate its headquarters in Jackson, Mich., and Aitons will operate from Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The MARS motors and components division will continue to operate its aftermarket replacement products and OEM components business from Hauppauge, N.Y.

Several Similarities

In addition to the inherent synergies between parts and equipment, the acquisition also makes sense from a cultural and philosophical perspective. “Culturally, our companies are very similar,” said Jerry Troke, vice president of marketing and product development, Heat Controller. “Senior management for both companies is looking for ways to work together. We’re all very excited at the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Chernoff agreed, stating that the companies share similar brand attributes and core values. “The dedication of our people, our unwavering commitment to service, and the quality of our products have made MARS the company it is today,” he said. “Heat Controller shares this same dedication and commitment to quality people, products, and service. They have built their success on the same foundation as ours — great employees and earned customer loyalty.”

Mehler received a warm welcome upon his first visit to Heat Controller headquarters in Jackson, Mich. “It felt just like a MARS facility,” said Mehler. “The employees, company sentiment, and the longevity of its staff are very much like our own. Both companies cherish a positive attitude and family atmosphere.”

Future Growth

MARS currently boasts about 100 employees and Heat Controller staffs approximately 50 individuals. Current plans do not call for any downsizing or shifting of employees. In fact, company representatives insist the merger will facilitate brand growth.

“If you examine the matrix of wholesale distribution for both companies, it’s very similar,” said Mehler. “We share the same customers, so there is an instant recognition at the customer level for both companies.”

MARS said it is looking forward to utilizing Heat Controller’s many strengths, including its training offerings, and the Heat Controller staff said it is excited to research and develop new products through the merger.

“Heat Controller’s product mix is the equipment broad portfolio, and MARS’s is the parts broad portfolio,” said Mehler. “If you put those two together, you have an instant, huge product offering to the customer.”

Chernoff also acknowledged that the acquisition lends itself to unlimited opportunities for future collaboration and growth. “Both companies have a rich history of success, as well as extensive HVACR industry expertise,” he said. “We look forward to utilizing this combined knowledge and expertise to deliver additional value to our customers.”

At first glance, the match appears to declare everyone — the companies, the customers, and the industry — a winner. “These are exciting times for Heat Controller, and we believe the merger into the MARS family will be a perfect fit going forward,” said Don Peck, who has been named chairman emeritus for the new organization. “Our goal is to make this transition transparent to our customers and to continue to serve our customers with this new alliance as we have in the past.”

Publication date: 7/1/2013 

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