Success Group Intl. (SGI), of which HVAC contracting group AirTime 500 is a subsidiary, was recently purchased from Direct Energy by longtime Direct Energy and Clockwork Home Services employee Rebecca Cassel, along with her husband and SGI member Lon Cassel.

This is the second time in four years the organization has been sold. Direct Energy purchased the assets of Clockwork Home Services for $183 million in 2010. SGI was included in the purchase. Clockwork Home Services also includes the One Hour Heating and Cooling franchise.

“The year 2013 was an interesting year for Success Group International,” Rebecca Cassel said. “I think it was the pivotal point for Direct Energy in solidifying its long-term strategy. The company had a lot of pieces of the business they were trying to bring together. I think it became evident to them that they did not know exactly where SGI fit.”

As president of SGI, Rebecca Cassel could feel the changes, so she began to have open discussions about the purchase with Direct Energy management starting in August 2013. Discussions became more serious in October, as she felt it would be mutually beneficial for them to sell the business to her.

“It is a piece of the business that I believe they thought would work really well with what they were trying to accomplish. But it is hard to have a franchise organization and also have an organization that focuses on the independent contractor,” Rebecca Cassel said. “It was the right timing for me and the right timing for them. I feel like I was at the right place at the right time.”

Rebecca and Lon Cassel, along with a few other SGI employees and members, founded Aquila Investment Group earlier this year to prepare for the purchase. In addition to AirTime 500, SGI is made up of Plumbers Success Intl., Electricians’ Success Intl., and Roofers’ Success Intl.

“Some of our investors are members, and that means we will be even more member focused,” Rebecca Cassel said. “They will be providing even greater input into what the independent contractor needs from us to run a highly successful operation. We want them to help us guide this organization.”

She said the short- and long-term goal is to grow the organization. There is no long-term strategy for building a franchise, going public, or flipping it to a private equity firm.

Rebecca Cassel wants SGI to continue to be a viable outlet for independent contractors. The organization will continue to offer the proprietary tools, including its pricing guides, sales systems, and management tools.

“We want to continue to focus on the independent contractor. There will be no limitations anymore on what we can and cannot do and develop. You will see that technology will be a huge focus for us to help the contractor,” Rebecca Cassel said. “Training will obviously still be a big focus. But there will also be a focus on building a relationship with the clients and adding some additional resources on our team. We will be able to see them more in the field instead of just seeing them at the conventions we have.”

SGI has seen membership grow in each of the past three years. “SGI is going back to its roots, and our members will enjoy a better, stronger, more innovative organization as a result,” Rebecca Cassel said.

The organization plans to remain headquartered in the Sarasota, Florida area.

Publication date: 5/19/2014

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