BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - Ownership of International Service Leadership (ISL) changed hands on Feb. 1 as Service Experts Inc. sold the group of independent HVACR contractors to three existing ISL members. Service Experts Inc. is a subsidiary of Lennox International Inc.

The sale included the transfer of a license to use the business curriculum, assets of the Brentwood, Tenn., office, and the ISL name. Service Experts, through newly formed HVAC Learning Solutions (HLS, a merger of Lennox Industries Training Network and former leaders of International Service Leadership), is retaining ownership of the technical curriculum, technical training centers, the professional development program (training tri-angles) and skills assessment battery, the BuildATech program, and other assets.

David Squires, president of Online-Access Inc., Port Huron, Mich., Bob Wilkins of Wilkins Mechanical Services, Bedford, N.H., and Milton Baum of Keil Heating and Air Conditioning in Riverdale, N.J., combined to purchase ISL.

Baum will serve as president of ISL. Wilkins will serve as vice president of operations, while Squires, whose company provides HVAC Web sites, marketing strategies, and marketing products to contractors across the country, will serve as vice president of technology.

Members Take Action

Baum said that when he learned late last year that Lennox was planning to sell ISL, he felt the need to take action; he didn't want the group to be broken up or sold to a manufacturer.

"Dave's contracting business and mine were members of Contractor's Success Group [CSG, the former name of ISL] almost from the beginning," said Baum. "We have not known what it is like being in the HVAC business without being in a contractors' group. Bob joined CSG later and he also feels, like us, that being part of a group of noncompetitive independent contractors makes it so much easier to do business.

"When Lennox made the announcement that they were going to sell ISL, we couldn't see this group go away. We have been involved in so many different layers of ISL."

Baum felt that Lennox also wanted to see the group go back to its members, and called the deal the best possible end result.

He said that "dozens and dozens" of members have sent him e-mails, congratulating him and thanking him for keeping the group together. "They know the group is going to stay together and expand," Baum said. "We now have a true focus for independent contractors. We are not caught up in the CSG, Lennox, or Service Experts thing."

Baum said that only a dozen or so members dropped out of ISL during the sales process, and he felt that these members were using ISL for discounts on Lennox purchases but never utilized any other benefits of ISL. "No one else has left for any other reason," he said.

Baum said that ISL still has ties to Lennox, and ISL will utilize the company's HLS program for its members. "We've worked out a very advantageous deal for ISL members to learn HLS training," Baum said.

ISL and HVAC Learning Solutions have entered into a three-year agreement wherein ISL will utilize HLS for technical training. HLS will provide 900 student slots at its world-class technical training centers over the next three years.

"We are very pleased to have completed the transaction, and we are delighted that three longtime members of ISL were able to purchase the organization," said Mike Moore, the new director of HLS and former ISL vice president.

Baum said that ISL will remain totally focused on the independent residential HVAC contractor and continue to provide new and unique sales and marketing programs, sales, business and technical training, new technological and communication abilities, and three business planning meetings per year.

He added that there are approximately 165 ISL members, and he hopes to add a major preferred vendor to replace Lennox. "We are hoping to resurrect a program with Nordyne," Baum said. "They will certainly have the first opportunity."

For more information, contact Baum at 973-492-0096 or or visit the ISL Web site,

Publication date: 02/14/2005