HOUSTON, TX — Jim Norris, chairman of Group Maintenance of America Corp (GroupMAC), said he will retire from his current position effective Feb. 1, 2000.

Norris’ announcement comes after the recent merger announcement between GroupMAC and Building One Services, which will create one of the largest contracting companies in the world.

With the merger, the board of directors of both companies are to be eliminated and a new, consolidated board will take over the operation of the new company.

“The reason I am leaving is a result of the function of the merger, part of the restructuring of the board of directors,” explained Norris.

He remarked that the reorganization is part of the normal business structuring following a merger deal.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure with GroupMAC,” he said. “I am very proud of the wonderful success GroupMAC has had in emerging from an idea to become a Fortune 500-level company.

“I am proud of the track record we established in reaching or exceeding our projected earnings for each of the eight quarters we have been in existence as a public company.”

Norris said that although he is leaving his post at GroupMAC, he has no intention of leaving the industry.

“I’m looking for other things to do, but it is a long way off and I haven’t decided what I am going to do yet,” he said. “I want to stay in a role where I can continue to work with contractors.”

Aggressive Programs

In joining GroupMAC, Norris brought the prestige he had acquired as executive vice president of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).

At the association, he was an eloquent voice in the defense of independent contractors. He launched an aggressive Industry Relations Committee to monitor perceived unfair competitive practices by manufacturers. He also helped terminate a national residential retrofit program sponsored by the Energy Department that put utilities in the driver’s seat.

Unlike others who joined GroupMAC, he had no contracting business to offer, only his reputation in the four-fold growth of ACCA membership during his 20-year tenure.

During Norris’s time at GroupMAC, the company grew to $3.2 billion in sales, a volume that exceeds the sales volume of most of the manufacturers producing the equipment and components installed by contractors.

Since it went public in November of 1997, the company has reached Fortune 500 stature.

And, thanks to an aggressive acquisition of contractors doing hvac, plumbing, and electrical work, and last month’s merger with Building One, the company now offers service capabilities in the nation’s top-100 markets and in more than 250 cities.

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On the marketing side, GroupMAC has linked up with a variety of partners, such as large utilities and real estate investment trusts, to secure national accounts.

“I am especially gratified with the development of a very solid cadre of professional managers who will be the future leaders of GroupMAC and its operating companies for many years to come,” said Norris.

This is another chapter in the ongoing transformation of the hvacr business that was sparked by consolidation of hvac contractors. The process began three years ago, when the first of the four companies went to Wall Street to fuel the roll-up of hundreds of independent companies.

Since then, two of the publicly traded consolidators, suffering from poor earnings, have themselves been rolled up. ServiceMaster acquired American Residential Services (Houston, TX) and Lennox International is acquiring Service Experts (Nashville, TN).