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HVAC: A Consolidating Market

When financial buyers think of HVAC contractors, they see an industry ripe for consolidation. The trend of HVAC consolidation started a few years ago and has not slowed down.

Throughout the United States, there are thousands of independent HVAC contractors. Financial buyers, such as private equity, see the opportunity to consolidate the independent firms to create a regional or national presence. The market is roughly a $20 billion industry that is fairly recession proof, especially throughout warmer states, such as Texas and Florida.

Private equity seeks opportunities to expand businesses through acquisition and organic growth. Once they have a foothold in the industry, they can add related services, such as plumbing services, to the roll-up strategy.

HVAC consolidations tend to be in high demand in markets that have a need for the services. Some focus on new construction, while others focus on servicing existing units that can be viewed as a recurring revenue model. The competition in the local market is key when an acquirer is looking at an acquisition. Is the HVAC target company a big fish in a small pond, or vice versa? What is the growth potential within the market? Cities and towns that are growing tend to be more attractive.

 

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Additionally, HVAC contractors might specialize in commercial or residential services. Depending on the roll-up strategy, the acquirers might have different goals on what they are looking for in the consolidation.

The consolidation allows for a larger firm to take advantage of perks that a smaller firm might not have access to due to size or cost prohibition. For example, the roll-up might be able to build out software and accounting systems to help increase the efficiencies of the company or recruit top executives to add a level of professionalism to the company.

Having this type of option within the market allows for the seller to have options about their company’s next phase. Having a larger, growing firm complete the acquisition allows the seller and the company’s employees opportunities that the selling firm could not achieve on its own. The seller may stay on post-closing in a different capacity or retire and allow employees to step into the management role. In any case, mergers and acquisitions can be an ideal solution for companies in the HVAC sector.

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Benchmark International Successfully Facilitated the Transaction Between RGM Vent Limited and Foresight Group

Benchmark International is pleased to announce that County Antrim ventilation systems installer, RGM Vent, has secured £3.35 million investment from private equity firm, Foresight.

The funding is a co-investment between the Foresight Scottish Growth Fund and the Northern Ireland Opportunities Fund II, also managed by Foresight.

RGM Vent was established in 2010 and offers bespoke ductwork design and installation services to a broad customer base across the UK and Ireland, with the company completing work of prominent infrastructure developments including WuXi Pharmaceutical (Dundalk), University of Ulster (Belfast), Hampton by Hilton (Edinburgh) and Longwater Office Development (Reading). The company has experienced a significant period of growth over the last five years and now employs 75 staff.

Part of the company’s growth has seen it purchase Advanced Ventilation Systems, which focuses on the smoke, heat and exhaust ventilation market, and NSK Sheet Metal, which specialises in fabrication and manufacturing of ductwork.

Foresight is an award-winning listed infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 35 years. Foresight’s private equity team, comprising over 30 investment professionals, manages c£700 million in a portfolio of more than 100 companies.

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Leveraging Foresight’s support, RGM Vent is now well primed to implement its growth strategy across the UK and Ireland.

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Benchmark International Completes Sale of Fast of Florida, Inc to Southern Air & Heat Holdings

International M&A specialist, Benchmark International, has successfully negotiated the sale of its client, FAST of Florida, Inc. (“FAST”) to Southern Air & Heat (“Southern HVAC”), a portfolio company of MSouth Equity Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.

Based in Clearwater, Florida, FAST is a leading provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and electrical sales, installation, and maintenance services to the residential and commercial markets. In 1972, the company was established as a small air conditioning repair shop by Eddie Vaughan. Eddie’s wife, Melissa, joined the company in the early 1980’s, assisting with administrative duties and bookkeeping. As the company grew, FAST evolved to expand its service offerings in order to remain competitive and add additional revenue streams. In 2005, Mr. Vaughan passed away after a long illness, and Melissa assumed ownership of the business. Under Mrs. Vaughan’s leadership, FAST has continued to experience tremendous growth while continuing to offer the same level of quality service the company was built upon. Today, the company employs nearly 50 people serving Pinellas County, Florida and the surrounding markets.

 

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Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Southern Air & Heat is a leading provider of essential maintenance, repair, replacement and new installation services for the residential and commercial HVAC markets. Currently, the Company serves over 100,000 homeowners across its target markets. Southern HVAC is financially backed by MSouth Equity Partners, a private equity investment firm that provides equity capital and expertise to support management teams of lower middle market companies. Founded in 2007, MSouth manages $1.3 billion with three active funds, and is the successor to Cravey, Green & Wahlen, which was founded in 1984.

President of FAST, Melissa Vaughan, stated, “Benchmark International played an instrumental role in helping me to exit my family legacy business gracefully. The team did an outstanding job of marketing my business toward motivated buyers, and ultimately finding the perfect fit in Southern HVAC. I would like to thank the Benchmark transaction team for the extraordinary effort in making this transaction a reality.”

“Our focus was to find the acquirer that shared FAST’s passion and commitment to providing a personalized level of service while retaining the culture that Melissa has worked so hard to preserve,” said Trevor Talkie, Senior Associate at Benchmark International. “FAST is a compelling addition to MSouth’s growing HVAC platform, and we are truly honored to have worked alongside Melissa and her team toward this successful outcome.”

Tyrus O’Neill, Director at Benchmark International added, “After the journey Melissa has been through, we’re happy to see the process reach an ideal end result. On behalf of Benchmark International, I’d like to wish both parties the best of luck moving forward.”

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It was October Dealfest at Benchmark International!

October was a fantastic month for Benchmark International and we are proud to announce that our teams in the UK and US have completed deals with an overall, combined transaction value of $160,000,000.

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