Last year, Lennox Intl. Inc. announced it was looking to sell Service Experts, a national residential and commercial contractor with more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada, after the company fell on hard times.
On March 22, Lennox divested the company and subsequently sold it to American Capital Ltd., a private equity firm and global asset manager. The company named Scott J. Boxer as president and CEO. In just eight months, Boxer, who served as president and COO of Service Experts from 2003 until his retirement in 2010, has helped bring Service Experts back to prominence.
“When you’re retired, you’re playing golf, exercising, and traveling. Getting back to the 10-, 11-, 12-hour-a-day grind puts a shock in the system,” Boxer said. “But I’m enjoying it. I’m energized by what I see us doing. I feel good about being back.”
Boxer said seeing a reputable company like Service Experts deteriorate led him to retire his retirement. Within two months, he had flattened and tightened up the organizational structure. Since restructuring, the company has ventured into other endeavors, propelling a 7 percent increase in same-store sales. After just eight months, the company is once again profitable.
“I’d say we’re well ahead of where we thought we’d be after eight months,” Boxer said. “We did modify the structure, but we also spent a lot of time revitalizing and growing the business. We made our centers more accountable for what they do in the field, in their relationships with customers, and how they run their businesses. That’s been a major step forward. I think the organization has really embraced its commitment to accountability.”
One of the first things Boxer did was reintroduce Service Experts’ local legacy names, which were sidelined in 2011. He said this has provided the centers with a spike in business “because people recognize us again.”
Not only that, but Boxer has helped usher in a culture of communication, something that he felt was disregarded under previous ownership.
“Because there was a potential that the company could be up for sale, there was a lack of consistent, concise communication,” Boxer said. “We’ve been very consistent in this manner, offering webcasts, sending communication letters, and hosting dashboards to the field. It’s difficult to communicate when you have a distributed workforce, but we’ve spent a lot of time on it, trying to explain exactly what we are doing and where we are going.”
That was echoed by director of marketing Dave Moody, who said Boxer has communicated good and bad news openly and efficiently with employees.
“He’s been upfront and blunt in sharing the results and the expectations. I think that’s good,” Moody said. “It sets the right tone, and it also establishes the right level of communication in the organization, which was missing before. We just didn’t have a lot of consistent feedback in how the company was performing and what we were doing to address key business challenges.”
When it comes to the future, Boxer said he hopes the company will grow 8-10 percent organically in 2014, and is hoping to make numerous residential and light commercial service and replacement acquisitions in the next 18 months.
“I’ve been very, very pleased with the support of our employees in embracing a new and revitalized direction for the company,” Boxer said. “When you do go through a little bit of turmoil like they went through, the employee base can be very skeptical about where a company is going. However, I’ve found it to be the exact opposite here. They’ve looked to the leadership and our communication programs, and they’ve jumped on board and have been very supportive of the company’s direction.”
Publication date: 12/23/2013