ATLANTA, GA — Home Depot, the home improvement retailer based here, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire for cash Apex Supply Company, Inc., also of Atlanta, a wholesale distributor of plumbing, hvac, and related products.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in January. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Acquiring Apex Supply signals Home Depot’s intent to seriously pursue the contractor market.

“With the acquisition of Apex Supply, we will strengthen our ability to reach the professional trades, both residential and commercial,” stated Arthur M. Blank, president and ceo of Home Depot. “The pro market is a major growth opportunity for us, and Apex Supply’s capabilities and knowledge in this area will help us improve our penetration of this business.”

Asked if Home Depot is primarily interested in the plumbing-hvac market or all contractors, spokesman Jerry Shields said, “We’re interested in all pros. This will enable us to serve a pro that we couldn’t serve that well.”

Andy McKenna, senior vice president, strategic business development, noted that the company was previously geared more toward the smaller contractor, but can now reach beyond that.

“The combination of Home Depot and Apex Supply will result in increased purchasing synergies and expanded product offerings,” Blank remarked.

“There is a crossover between the do-it-yourselfers and the pros in terms of product,” said Shields. Some Apex Supply products could be integrated into the store offerings for the do-it-yourself market.

Founded in 1949, Apex Supply currently has 525 employees and estimated sales of more than $220 million. The company offers its products through 21 locations in Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

It will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Home Depot, and its principals, chairman and chief executive officer Clyde Rodbell and president and chief operating officer Sidney Rodbell, will stay on to run the business. The Rodbells will report to McKenna.

Home Depot currently operates 901 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Chile.