Contractor groups did not sit still in 2004. Contractors Services took a new name, as did Contractors 2000. Contractors Services, the parent company of Plumbers' Success International and AirTime 500, is now Success Group International (SGI). The new name for Contractors 2000 is Nexstar.

"Changing our name reflects our focus on the future," said Terry Nicholson, SGI president. "Our goal is to help independent business owners become successful and build wealth. Today our focus is on independent plumbing and HVAC contractors."

Greg Niemi, president and chief operating officer of Nexstar, made his contractor group's announcement at its annual Super Meeting in San Francisco. The name is a combination of the words "next" and "star." "We wanted a name that was forward thinking and symbolized taking things to the next level," said Niemi, adding that the organization "will continue to be the most progressive and aggressive organization for independent contractors."

Meanwhile, Excellence Alliance Inc. (EAI) formed a working relationship with national HVAC franchise group Aire Serv. EAI is sharing some of its intellectual property and programs with Aire Serv, which is providing financial compensation to EAI.

Greg Niemi, president and COO of Nexstar Inc., addressed members at the group’s Super Meeting in San Francisco.
Is this an unusual relationship? Sure, acknowledged Don Schmitt, chief executive officer of EAI. "It sounds a little strange since it is often franchisee versus independent contractor. But really, these people [Aire Serv franchisees] are still independent," said Schmitt. "They are small contractors who use their common name and use the services of Aire Serv."

In other contractor group news, the Linc Corp. reached a milestone, observing its 25th anniversary this year. The Linc Service Network is a group of independently owned mechanical service contractors all connected by the common thread of the Linc System.

Most contractor groups noted an increase in membership. ACCA was among that group. At the association's annual convention in New Orleans, Rheem announced it would provide full ACCA membership at the national, state, and local levels to qualifying Rheem Team and Ruud Reliable contractor members. This entails funding for all current national, state, and local ACCA membership dues for more than 400 of Rheem's qualified top contractors.

Sidebar: Service Experts Shakeup

Lennox International realigned its Service Experts' dealer service centers in 2004, to focus on service and replacement opportunities in the residential and light commercial markets.

The company identified 130 dealer service centers whose primary business is residential and light commercial service and replacement, which now comprise the ongoing Service Experts business segment. Lennox divested the remaining 47 centers and closed four.

The company said the 130 service centers that now make up the Service Experts business segment had revenues of $604 million in 2003. The 47 centers that are no longer a part of Service Experts have been organized under a new entity and are classified as a discontinued business.

Publication date: 12/27/2004