CHICAGO — Unicom Corp. announced the purchase of Midwest Mechanical on July 21. The deal for Midwest, a premier Chicagoland mechanical contractor, is expected to be finalized by the end of August.

In a statement issued by Unicom, Bob Manning, president of the company’s Competitive Operations, said, “Midwest Mechanical supports our business strategy to expand our portfolio of energy products, services, and new technologies.”

Midwest, featured in the April 12 issue of The News, is a leading player in the commercial-industrial design-build field. The company also has been expanding its service markets in recent years, hoping to boast an overall sales figure of $45 million in 1999.

Unicom is the parent company to Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd), its principal subsidiary, and Unicom Enterprises, Inc., offering energy-related products and services. Unicom has nearly 16,000 employees and revenues of $7 billion.

Timing is everything

Midwest president Ken Beard said the timing was just right for the acquisition.

“This deal made a lot of sense to us,” he said. “Unicom is committed to the mechanical services, which is part of their overall unregulated business. We are an integral piece of their overall strategy of being in the energy business.”

Groundwork for the Midwest deal was laid more than two years ago, when Midwest began doing some mechanical contracting work for Unicom Energy Solutions. During that time Beard became acquainted with Bob Smith, general manager of Unicom Energy Systems.

“As we were working for them, they began developing a strategy of acquisition,” Beard said.

Unicom approached Beard in early 1998 with an acquisition plan and asked if he was interested. Beard answered that anything would be possible. But he was happy with how his business was at the time and the dialogue stopped — for a while.

The talk heated up again in the spring of 1999. Eventually, after careful consideration and months of discussions, Beard signed on the bottom line.

Felt positive long before

In his previous interview withThe News, Beard hinted that he liked what the utilities had to offer:

“If you sell to a utility you become part of a significant player in the industry, because there is no doubt that utilities will become major players. Utilities are going to control a lot of retrofit and performance contracting. We certainly want to do that work.”

Today, Beard says, “This [acquisition] will create new opportunities for our people. Our employees are positive about this. Our key management people are staying with Midwest and I plan to stay, too. Our employees wanted to be reassured that I’ll stay with them.”

Although Beard will remain in control of the day-to-day operations of Midwest, he will change his job title to ceo of Unicom Mechanical Services, parent company to Midwest Mechanical. He will be responsible for future acquisitions.

He said he is looking forward to this new responsibility and what it will mean to Unicom.

“We will be the platform company for additional acquisitions in the nine-state Midwest region. We will be targeting contractors in areas where Unicom has a presence.”