Watsco

Last updated
Watsco, Inc.
Public
Traded as NYSE:  WSO
NYSE:  WSO.B (Class B)
S&P 400 Component (WSO)
Industry HVAC/R Distribution
Founded1956, Florida
Headquarters,
US
Number of locations
560 (2017)
Key people
Albert H. Nahmad
(Chairman & CEO)
Aaron J. Nahmad
(President)
Ana M. Menendez
(CFO)
Products HVAC parts and supplies
RevenueIncrease2.svg US$ 4.34 billion (2017)
Increase2.svg US$ 353.87 million (2017)
Increase2.svg US$ 257.29 million (2017)
Total assets Increase2.svg US$ 2.05 billion (2017)
Total equity Increase2.svg US$ 1.55 billion (2017)
Number of employees
5,200 [1]  (2017)
Website www.watsco.com
Footnotes /references
[2]

Watsco, Inc. is the largest distributor of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment and related parts and supplies (HVAC/R) in the United States. [2] Watsco was founded more than 60 years ago as a manufacturer of parts, components and tools used in the HVAC/R industry. Under the leadership of its current CEO, Albert H. Nahmad, from 1973 to 1988 Watsco grew from US$5 million [3] in revenues to US$25 million. In 1989, the company shifted its focus from manufacturing to distribution by acquiring Gemaire Distributors Inc., a South Florida-based Rheem distributor. By 1997, Watsco added other OEMs to the mix and moved into commercial refrigeration as a result of the acquisition of Baker Distributing Company. Watsco divested its manufacturing business in 1998, [4] selling it to International Comfort Products Corporation, now part of Carrier Corporation (Carrier). Revenues increased from US$64.1 million in 1989 to US$4.5 billion in 2018 via a strategy of acquiring companies with established market position and subsequently building revenues and profit through a combination of adding locations, products, services and other initiatives. [5]

Rheem

Rheem Manufacturing Company is an American privately held manufacturer that produces residential and commercial water heaters and boilers, as well as heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The company also produces and sells products under the Ruud brand name. It is a subsidiary of Paloma Industries. What became Rheem started in 1925 as a supplier of packaging to the petroleum industry, and is currently headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of both water heating and HVAC equipment in the United States, and also produces and markets products in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahrain, China, Brazil, Canada, Iraq, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UAE, and Ukraine.

International Comfort Products Corporation (ICP) is a company that designs, manufactures and markets central air conditioning (HVAC) systems and gas and oil furnaces for use in homes and commercial buildings. It is headquartered in Lewisburg, Tennessee, United States.

Carrier Corporation Brand of United Technologies Corporation

Carrier Corporation is a brand of the UTC Climate, Controls & Security division, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Carrier was founded in 1915 as an independent, American company, manufacturing and distributing heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as commercial refrigeration and food service equipment. As of 2012, it was a $12.5 billion company with over 43,000 employees serving customers in 170 countries on six continents.

Contents

Watsco's goal is to build a network of locations throughout North America that provide the finest service and product availability for HVAC/R contractors, assisting and supporting them as they serve homeowners and businesses. Watsco has approximately 5,200 [6] employees assisting approximately 90,000 [7] contractors and dealers who in turn, service, repair or replace HVAC/R systems in homes and businesses. At December 31, 2018, the company operated from 571 locations in 37 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico with additional market coverage on an export basis to Latin America and the Caribbean. [8] Watsco is the only publicly traded HVAC/R distributor. The company's Common stock is traded under the symbol WSO on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). [9] The company's Class B common stock is traded on the NYSE under the ticker symbol WSO.B. Albert Nahmad, Chairman and CEO, controls the company with 52% [10] of the combined voting power.

Key dates

1947:  The company, Wagner Tool & Supply Corp., is founded in New York
1956:  Watsco, Inc. incorporated in Florida
1963:  The company goes public
1968:  Watsco joins the American Stock Exchange
1972:  Albert H. Nahmad becomes chairman, president and CEO
1989:  Watsco acquires an 80% interest in Gemaire in Florida and shifts focus to distribution
1990:  The company acquires a 50.5% interest in Heating & Cooling Supply in California
1993:  Watsco acquires an 80% interest in Comfort Supply in Texas
1994:  Watsco moves to the New York Stock Exchange
1996:  Watsco purchases minority interests of Gemaire, Heating & Cooling & Comfort Supply
1997:  The company acquires locations from Carrier and ICP; enters refrigeration market
1998:  Watsco sells its manufacturing operation; revenues reach US$1 billion
2005:  The company acquires East Coast Metal Distributors, a distributor of Goodman products
2009:  Watsco forms first joint venture with Carrier Corporation; revenues reach US$2 billion
2011:  The company enters Mexico
2012:  Watsco enters Canada and revenues exceed US$3 billion
2015:  The company's revenues reach US$4 billion

Company history

Organization and development of the company

Watsco was organized in 1947 in New York, as a parts manufacturer originally known as Wagner Tool & Supply Corp. Watsco, Inc. was incorporated in Florida on July 14, 1956 and went public in 1963. In 1968, Watsco was listed on the NYSE MKT LLC, formerly known as the American Stock Exchange. In 1969, Watsco merged with Sun Engineering and began its acquisition strategy.

A small player through the 1970s

After 1969, Watsco bought several small companies in different industries and scattered locations. Headquartered in Hialeah, Florida, an industrial area in greater Miami, the company operated principally in three industries in the 1970s: 1) the manufacture of climate control components for the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration industry; 2) the manufacture of components for doors and windows in the building industry; and 3) the production and sale of professional hair care products for the beauty salon industry. In 1971, Watsco acquired Chicago-based Wabash Corp. and Kesco Products of New York. The company acquired Allin Manufacturing Company in 1973, a Chicago-based manufacturer of specialty air conditioning components called “sight glasses” (devices used to observe the clarity of refrigerants). [11] In 1974, the company bought Mumma Tool & Die Company. In 1977, Watsco paid Clairol, Inc. approximately US$275,000 [12] for its Sybil Ives Division, which included hair care products such as permanent waves, hair sprays, hair coloring, shampoos and conditioners. Watsco ran the Professional Hair Care division, consisting of Sybil Ives and Winslow Manufacturing, Inc., until 1982. In a profile on Watsco in Florida Trend magazine (October 1992), [13] the company's sales and earnings throughout the 1970s were characterized as “unspectacular.” The company in many ways fit the model of the corporate conglomerate that dominated that era, with operations spread across several market segments—hair care and air conditioning could hardly be more different.

The company came under the control of a new leader in December 1972, [14] Albert H. Nahmad, when he acquired a controlling interest in the company from its founder, William Wagner. He became chairman, president and chief executive officer and eventually took the company in a new direction. Nahmad had a background both in business and in engineering. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Administration from Purdue University. He then worked for several years for the conglomerate W.R. Grace & Co., and for the accounting firm Arthur Young & Co. (now known as Ernst & Young). For several years under Nahmad's leadership at Watsco things did not look too different. The company continued to pick up smaller manufacturing firms, including Del Mar Engineering Co. in 1977, Rho Sigma, Inc. in 1979 and Cam-Stat, Inc. of Los Angeles in 1981. [15] The company sold its Professional Hair Care division in 1982 for US$540,000, [16] nearly twice what it had paid for the Clairol division five years earlier. In addition, Nahmad made several moves to strengthen Watsco's operations. In 1982, Watsco's Los Angeles-based subsidiaries Del Mar Engineering and Rho Sigma moved to Hialeah where they became part of the Production Enterprises division. In 1984, another California subsidiary, Cam-Stat, also moved to Hialeah so that Watsco's operations were not so far-flung. The company also made a significant investment in 1982, buying an approximate 8.5% interest in Florida Commercial Banks, Inc., a bank holding company, for approximately US$3 million. [17] Two years later, Watsco sold its interest in the bank for approximately US$8.6 million. [18]

W. R. Grace and Company company

W. R. Grace and Company is an American chemical conglomerate based in Columbia, Maryland. Grace currently operates two business segments, Grace Catalysts Technologies and Grace Materials Technologies. Grace is a specialty chemicals and specialty materials company. After emerging from a prolonged bankruptcy period of 12 years in 2014, the company spun off major operating divisions, marking the end what was once a global Grace Empire. As of December, 2017, it had approximately 3,700 employees, with about 1,900 in the United States and the balance in Europe and Asia. In 2017, the annual sales is US $ 1.72 billion.

Ernst & Young Multinational professional services network headquartered in London, England

Ernst & Young is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom. EY is one of the largest professional services firms in the world. Along with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), EY is considered one of the Big Four accounting firms. EY has recently shifted its historical business focus towards consulting. In particular, EY advanced its market presence in strategic consulting and entered into direct competition with what has been a traditional field of "Big Three" companies, namely Bain, McKinsey and BCG. By series of acquisitions and shift of market focus, EY expanded its market share in areas including operations services consulting, strategy services consulting, HR services consulting, financial services consulting & technology services consulting.

Beginning to move in the 1980s

By the mid-1980s, Watsco's revenues had grown to approximately US$14 million. Watsco's air conditioning business was doing well. The U.S. Sun Belt had seen a boom in housing in the 1970s as many people migrated south, and Watsco continued to thrive even as the boom flattened because it sold replacement parts. Air conditioners, used almost year-round in the Sun Belt, usually wore out within 8–10 years, so the replacement cycle was in full swing in the 1980s even as new home construction slowed. By 1986, Nahmad was anxious to expand Watsco, which had considerable cash to invest. Nahmad made it known that he was looking for acquisitions, and even took out an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal asking people with companies to sell to contact him. [14] Then Watsco took an unexpected step. Its first major acquisition of the mid-1980s was not related to its air conditioning business any more than hair care had been. In May 1988, Watsco acquired a temporary help and permanent placement services firm called Dunhill Personnel System, Inc. Dunhill had revenue of roughly US$21 million annually, and personnel services was expected to be a high growth business. Nahmad first announced that he would spin off the division for a profit within a few years, but Dunhill continued to be a part of Watsco through 2007 when it was sold to ATS Group LLC. [19] In 1988, Watsco revenues reached US$22 million. [20]

<i>The Wall Street Journal</i> American business-focused daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The Wall Street Journal is a U.S. business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal, along with its Asian and European editions, is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp. The newspaper is published in the broadsheet format and online. The Journal has been printed continuously since its inception on July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser.

Entry into HVAC distribution

The real key to Watsco's growth, and the foundation that would be built upon thereafter, came in 1989 when Watsco invested in an air conditioning distribution business. In 1989, Watsco bought 80% of the largest distributor of central air conditioning equipment under the Rheem brand name, Gemaire Distributors, Inc., for US$17.1 million. [21] The other 20% of the company was held by Rheem. Then in 1990, Watsco bought a 50.5% [22] interest in Heating & Cooling Supply, Inc., the largest independent distributor of HVAC equipment and supplies in California. Watsco had planned to buy 80% [23] of Heating & Cooling Supply, raising money through a public stock offering. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the possibility of war in the Persian Gulf flattened the stock market, making Watsco's stock offering virtually impossible, and the company withdrew it. Instead Watsco settled for a smaller piece of Heating & Cooling Supply, paying approximately US$16 million for a 50.5% interest. [24] Rheem bought the remaining 49.5%. The acquisition allowed Watsco to double its share of the distribution market in southern California and Arizona, and company revenues shot up. By 1991 Watsco's revenues had reached US$169 million. [25]

Steady growth in the 1990s

A long-term replacement cycle was underway in the Sun Belt for central air conditioners following the housing boom in the Sun Belt during the 1970s. Watsco also grew by expanding into new, high-growth markets. It opened a location in Las Vegas in 1991, anticipating vigorous population growth there. The company also benefited from the rebuilding effort in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. The hurricane devastated southern Florida in 1992 and in Miami-Dade County alone, about 26,000 homes were destroyed and more than 101,000 others were damaged. [26]

As Watsco's distribution business took off, its manufacturing business became a smaller portion of its total business. By 1993, about three quarters of the company's revenues came from distribution. Manufacturing was profitable and Watsco began manufacturing electronic temperature controls, which it sold to OEMs. Watsco also began making a new product in 1992, which it called the Flash. The Flash was a machine that captured and filtered chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the coolant commonly used in air conditioners and refrigeration equipment. The Flash was manufactured by a Watsco subsidiary in Hialeah, and it was important because the Clean Air Act enacted in July 1992 prohibited the release of CFCs into the air. The Flash made it possible for air conditioning contractors to recover and recycle CFCs in compliance with the law. With this new product, Watsco hoped that its manufacturing business would equal the distribution side by the end of the decade.

But it was the distribution business that continued to lead the way through the 1990s. The industry was still highly fragmented, made up of many small, well-established players, and Watsco had many opportunities to expand by acquisition. “There’s no one out there consolidating in the industry except us,” CEO Nahmad told the Wall Street Journal (June 20, 1994). [27] In that interview Nahmad also announced that Watsco's profit for 1994 was expected to go up by about 20%. The company moved to the more prestigious New York Stock Exchange that year. In 1995, Watsco acquired Central Air Conditioning Distributors, Inc., a North Carolina Rheem distributor. In 1996, Watsco bought out Rheem's minority interest in the three Rheem-brand distributors: 1) Gemaire, 2) Heating & Cooling Supply and 3) Comfort Supply, a 1993 acquisition that they had split 80/20. These all became wholly owned subsidiaries of Watsco. The company also bought Three States Supply Company, Inc. that year. Then in early 1997, Watsco acquired Coastline Distribution, Inc. and purchased four additional operations from Inter-City Products Corporation for US$21.7 million. Inter-City was one of the nation's largest manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment, with several major brands, including Comfortmaker and Arcoaire. It had 25 locations of its Coastline Distribution business, spread throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, Maryland and parts of southern California. Within a couple months, Watsco announced that it was buying two distribution operations from the air conditioner maker Carrier. [28] This was the company's 15th acquisition in the HVAC/R distribution business since 1989.

With the distribution business growing so quickly, Watsco decided to sell off its manufacturing business. In January 1998, the company announced its intention to focus solely on its distribution business, which generated approximately 90% of total revenues in 1997. [29] It sold its manufacturing subsidiary, Watsco Components, Inc., to International Comfort Products Corporation in 1998. Watsco continued to acquire smaller distributors in 1998 buying a Georgia firm that distributed heaters and air conditioners to the mobile home industry. Kaufman Supply, Inc. had annual revenues of US$102 million, and looked to have a lucrative niche in the thriving mobile home market in the Southeast U.S.

By the late 1990s, Watsco had become a billion-dollar company. It had made significant inroads into the HVAC/R distribution market in Florida, Texas and California, key Sun Belt states. In 1999, the company announced that it was ready to move into New England, which was new territory for Watsco. New England was served by some 40 different distributors, and the total market for heating and cooling, including parts and supplies, was estimated to be worth more than US$400 million. In 1999, Watsco bought two major distributors in the Northeast, Homans Associates, Inc. and Heat, Inc., and declared that it was actively looking for more acquisitions in the area. Watsco finished 1999 with 315 [30] distribution locations in its network and record growth; revenues grew 17%, to US$1.25 billion. [31] Watsco was now the largest independent distributor of residential heating and cooling equipment in the U.S.

Improved operating efficiencies and continued growth in the 2000s

In 2000, the company entered another mode, concentrating on improving operating efficiency and enhancing profitability in its existing locations instead of focusing on growth through acquisitions. It announced that it would eliminate some product lines that were not selling well or that had poor profit margins. [32] Watsco also implemented several initiatives including the closure of certain underperforming locations (25 locations closed in 2000 and 7 closed in 2001) and the integration of operating subsidiaries, which resulted in a more simplified operating structure. The company looked for other ways to cut costs too. It restructured the business it had bought from Kaufman Supply, which sold heating and cooling to mobile homes and other manufactured housing. Watsco also invested in new technology in the early 2000s by introducing ACDoctor.com, a consumer-friendly website that provides consumers a resource for heating and air conditioning, including information on energy efficiency, product comparisons and tax and utility credits, as well as a way to find a licensed HVAC contractor to service their repair and replacement needs. Watsco reported sales of US$1.3 billion [33] in 2000, up slightly from the previous year. Revenues for 2001 shrank slightly yet Watsco still saw opportunities for future growth in the HVAC/R distribution market. Company analysts perceived the HVAC/R distribution industry as undercapitalized and fragmented, suggesting there was still a place for a well-heeled consolidator.

Watsco continued its acquisition strategy in the 2000s acquiring a number of other businesses including 52 locations from a former competitor, Pameco, in 2003. It also acquired Goodman Manufacturing's largest distributor, East Coast Metal Distributors, Inc., in 2005 with 27 locations in the Southeast. East Coast had been owned by the same family for more than 50 years. [34] Watsco then acquired Houston-based ACR Group, Inc. in 2007, a public company with 54 locations throughout the Sun Belt and annual revenues of approximately US$240 million. [35] Despite the economic slowdown that began in 2008, Watsco completed its largest acquisition to date with the formation of a joint venture with Carrier in the second half of 2009.

Joint ventures with Carrier Corporation in the 2010s

In July 2009, Watsco formed a joint venture (Carrier Enterprise I) with Carrier to distribute Carrier products throughout the U.S. Sun Belt, Latin America and the Caribbean. Carrier contributed to Carrier Enterprise 95 locations in the U.S. Sunbelt and Puerto Rico and Carrier's export division located in Miami, Florida, and Watsco contributed 15 locations that distributed Carrier products. Watsco purchased a 60% controlling interest in the joint venture for US$181 million with options to purchase up to an additional 20% interest from Carrier (10% beginning in July 2012 and an additional 10% in July 2014).

This represented a transformational event in Watsco's history. The transaction doubled Watsco's already market-leading position and expanded its product lines and brands. The company was also able to expand its presence in the U.S. Sun Belt, where its products are of critical importance. In particular, Carrier Enterprise added product depth to Watsco's markets with premium level residential products, commercial products and the latest energy-efficient technology. Likewise, Carrier Enterprise locations were provided the opportunity to sell additional parts, supplies and other complementary accessories through its existing operating structure, leveraging existing customer relationships and costs. Carrier Enterprise is structured similar to Watsco's other acquisitions, with a decentralized management structure that keeps the existing management team in place; a cornerstone of Watsco's operating philosophy. The Carrier Enterprise joint venture resulted in an expansion of Watsco's revenues by approximately US$1.3 billion in 2010. “For its part, Carrier found a powerful new partner with extensive distribution expertise that would expand sales of its product lines.” [36]

Effective July 2, 2012, [37] Watsco exercised their first option to acquire an additional 10% ownership interest in Carrier Enterprise I, which increased the company's ownership interest to 70%. On July 1, 2014, Watsco exercised their last remaining option to acquire an additional 10% ownership interest in Carrier Enterprise I, which increased the company's ownership interest to 80%. In April 2011, [38] Watsco formed a second joint venture with Carrier, Carrier Enterprise II, to distribute Carrier products throughout the Northeast U.S. in largely new markets for the company. In July 2011, [39] the company added Carrier's distribution operations in Mexico to the second joint venture. In November 2016, we purchased an additional 10% ownership interest in Carrier Enterprise II, and, on February 13, 2017, we again purchased an additional 10% ownership interest in Carrier Enterprise II, which together increased our controlling interest to 80%. In April 2012, [40] Watsco formed a third joint venture, Carrier Enterprise III, with UTC Canada Corporation, an affiliate of Carrier, to distribute Carrier products from 35 locations throughout all of the provinces and territories in Canada. Watsco has a 60% controlling interest in this joint venture and UTC Canada has a 40% noncontrolling interest.

The three Carrier Enterprise joint ventures employ approximately 2,550 individuals and operate from more than 220 locations in 27 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico with exports to more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Combined, the joint ventures with Carrier represented 61% [41] of Watsco's revenues for 2018.

Growth of distribution operations

 20181989Increase
Revenues (in thousands)$4,546,653$64,093 [42] 70x
Operating Income (in thousands)$372,082$2,478 [42] 150x
Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations$6.49$0.14 [42] 46x
Market capitalization (in thousands)$5,191,912$21,799 [42] 238x
Number of locations57116 [42] 35x

Residential HVAC distribution industry

The HVAC/R distribution industry is highly fragmented with approximately 2,300 [43] distribution companies. The industry in the U.S. and Canada is well-established, having had its primary period of growth during the post-World War II era with the advent of affordable central air conditioning and heating systems for both residential and commercial applications. The advent of HVAC/R products in Latin America and the Caribbean is also well-established, but has emerged in more recent years as those economies have grown and products have become more affordable and have matured from luxury to necessity. The estimated annual market for residential HVAC/R products in the Americas is approximately US$35 billion. Residential central air conditioners are manufactured primarily by seven major companies that together account for approximately 90% of all units shipped in the U.S. each year. These companies are: Carrier Corporation (Carrier), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, Goodman Manufacturing Company, L.P. (Goodman), a subsidiary of Daikin Industries, Ltd., Rheem Manufacturing Company (Rheem), Trane Inc., a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand Company Limited, York International Corporation, a subsidiary of Johnson Controls, Inc., Lennox International, Inc. and Nordyne Corporation (Nordyne), a subsidiary of Nortek Corporation. These manufacturers distribute their products through a combination of factory-owned and independent distributors who, in turn, supply the equipment and related parts and supplies to contractors and dealers nationwide that sell to and install the products for consumers, businesses and other end-users.

Air conditioning and heating equipment is sold to the residential replacement market, the commercial market and residential new construction market. The replacement market has increased in importance over the past several years as a result of the aging of the installed base of residential central air conditioners and furnaces, the introduction of new higher energy efficient models, the remodeling and expansion of existing homes, the addition of central air conditioning to homes that previously had only heating products and consumers’ overall unwillingness to live without air conditioning or heating products. The mechanical life of central air conditioning and furnaces varies by geographical region due to usage and ranges from approximately 8 to 20 years. According to data published by the Energy Information Administration, there are approximately 89 million [44] central air conditioning and heating systems installed in the U.S. that have been in service for more than 10 years. Many installed units are currently reaching the end of their useful lives, thus providing a growing and stable replacement market.

Business strategy

Watsco has a “buy and build” strategy that has produced substantial long-term growth in revenues and profits. The “buy” component of the strategy focuses on acquiring market leaders to either expand into new geographic areas or gain additional market share in existing markets. Watsco employs a disciplined and conservative approach that seeks opportunities that fit well-defined financial and strategic criteria. The “build” component of the strategy focuses on implementing a growth culture at acquired companies, by adding products and locations to better serve customers, exchanging ideas and business concepts amongst the executive management teams and investing in new technologies. Newly acquired businesses have access to Watsco's capital resources and established vendor relationships to provide their customers with an expanded array of product lines on favorable terms and conditions with an intensified commitment to service.

Strategy in existing markets

Watsco's strategy for growth in existing markets focuses on customer service and product expansion to satisfy the needs of the higher growth, higher margin replacement market, in which customers generally demand immediate, convenient and reliable service. The company responds to this need by (i) offering a broad range of product lines, including the necessary equipment, parts and supplies to enable a contractor to install or repair a central air conditioner, furnace or refrigeration system, (ii) maintaining a strong density of warehouse locations for increased customer convenience, (iii) maintaining well-stocked inventories to ensure that customer orders are filled in a timely manner, (iv) providing a high degree of technical expertise at the point of sale and (v) developing and implementing technology to further enhance customer service capabilities. The company believes these concepts provide a competitive advantage over smaller, less-capitalized competitors that are unable to commit resources to open and maintain additional locations, implement technological business solutions, provide the same range of products, maintain the same inventory levels or attract the wide range of expertise that is required to support a diverse product offering. In some geographic areas, Watsco believes it has a competitive advantage over factory-operated distributor networks that typically do not maintain inventories of parts and supplies that are as diversified as Watsco's and which have fewer warehouse locations than they do, which makes it more difficult for these competitors to meet the time-sensitive demands of the replacement market.

In addition to the replacement market, Watsco sells to the new construction market, including new homes and commercial construction. The company believes its reputation for reliable, high-quality service and relationships with contractors, who may serve both the replacement and new construction markets, allow them to compete effectively in these markets.

Acquisition strategy

The company focuses on acquiring businesses that either complement its current presence in existing markets or establish a presence in new geographic markets. Since 1989, Watsco has acquired 59 [45] HVAC/R distribution businesses, six of which operate as primary operating subsidiaries. The other smaller acquired distributors have been integrated into or are under the management of the primary operating subsidiaries. Through a combination of sales and market share growth, opening of new locations, tuck-in acquisitions, expansion of product lines, improved pricing and programs that have resulted in higher gross profit, performance incentives and a culture of equity value for key leadership, the company has produced substantial sales and earnings growth post-acquisition. Watsco continues to pursue additional strategic acquisitions and/or joint ventures to allow further penetration in existing markets and expansion into new geographic markets.

Operating philosophy

Acquired subsidiaries operate in a manner that builds upon the long-term relationships they have established between their suppliers and customers. Typically, Watsco seeks to maintain the identity and culture of acquired businesses by retaining their historical trade names, management teams and sales organizations and by continuing their product brand-name offerings. [14] Watsco believes this strategy allows the company to build on the value of the acquired operations by creating additional sales opportunities while providing an attractive exit strategy for the former owners of these companies.

Watsco maintains a specialized staff at its corporate headquarters in Miami, Florida that provides functional support for the subsidiaries’ growth strategies in their respective markets. Certain general and administrative expenses are targeted for cost savings by leveraging the overall business volume and improving operating efficiencies.

Products

Watsco sells an expansive line of products and maintains a diverse mix of inventory to meet its customers’ immediate needs and seeks to provide products a contractor would generally require when installing or repairing a central air conditioner, furnace or refrigeration system on short notice. The cooling capacity of air conditioning units is measured in tons. One ton of cooling capacity is equivalent to 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) and is generally adequate to air condition approximately 500 square feet of residential space. The products the company distributes consist of: (i) equipment, including residential central air conditioners ranging from 1-1/2 to 5 tons, gas, electric and oil furnaces ranging from 50,000 to 150,000 BTUs, commercial air conditioning and heating equipment and systems ranging from 1-1/2 to 25 tons and other specialized equipment, (ii) parts, including replacement compressors, evaporator coils, motors and other component parts and (iii) supplies, including thermostats, insulation material, refrigerants, ductwork, grills, registers, sheet metal, tools, copper tubing, concrete pads, tape, adhesives and other ancillary supplies. The refrigeration products Watsco distributes include condensing units, compressors, evaporators, valves, refrigerant, walk-in coolers and ice machines for industrial and commercial applications.

Distribution and sales

The largest market Watsco serves is the U.S., in which the most significant markets for HVAC/R products are in the Sun Belt. Accordingly, the majority of Watsco's distribution locations are in the Sun Belt, with the highest concentration in Florida and Texas. These markets have been a strategic focus of the company given their size, the reliance by homeowners and businesses on HVAC/R products to maintain a comfortable indoor environment and the population growth in these areas over the last 40 years, which has led to a substantial installed base requiring replacement, a shorter useful life for equipment given the hours of operation and the focus by electrical utilities on consumer incentives designed to promote replacement of HVAC/R equipment in an effort to improve energy efficiency. In the U.S., cooling and heating accounts for approximately half [46] of the energy consumed in a typical home.

Key suppliers

Watsco has significant relationships with Carrier, Rheem, Goodman, Nordyne, Emerson, Manitowoc, Nest, ecoBee, Fujitsu, Gree, QuietCool, Honeywell, Owens Corning, Johns Manville and DuPont, each of which is a leading manufacturer of HVAC/R products in the U.S. Each manufacturer has a well-established reputation of producing high-quality, competitively priced products. The manufacturers’ current product offerings, quality, serviceability and brand-name recognition allows Watsco to operate favorably relative to their competitors. To maintain brand-name recognition, the manufacturers of air conditioning and heating equipment provide national advertising and participate with Watsco in cooperative advertising programs and promotional incentives that are targeted to both dealers and end-users.

Business units

Baker Distributing Company

Founded in 1945 in Jacksonville, Florida, Baker provides a complete range of HVAC, refrigeration, food service equipment, and parts and supplies for residential, commercial and marine applications from more than 200 locations in 22 states.

Carrier Enterprise

Carrier Enterprise distributes Carrier, Bryant and Payne branded residential, light-commercial and applied commercial HVAC products from more than 165 locations in 28 states and Puerto Rico, with additional market coverage on an export basis to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Carrier Enterprise Mexico

Carrier Enterprise Mexico distributes Carrier's complete product line of HVAC equipment and commercial refrigeration products and supplies servicing both the residential and applied commercial markets from more than 10 locations throughout all of Mexico.

Carrier Enterprise Canada

Carrier Enterprise Canada distributes Carrier, Bryant and Payne branded residential, light-commercial and applied commercial HVAC products from more than 35 locations throughout all of the territories and provinces in Canada.

East Coast Metal Distributors

Established in 1954 in Durham, North Carolina, East Coast distributes Amana, Goodman, Daikin and Gree HVAC products from more than 45 locations in 9 states.

Gemaire Group

Founded in 1969 in Florida, Gemaire provides Rheem, American Standard and Mitsubishi HVAC products from more than 85 locations in 10 states.

ACDoctor

ACDoctor.com is an information resource, created by Watsco, for homeowners and building owners looking for information related to heating and air conditioning. The website provides information on energy efficiency, product comparisons and tax and utility credits.

Watsco Ventures

Watsco Ventures gives talented entrepreneurs and technologists the opportunity to develop new technologies and business models that will improve the customer experience and enhance sales growth. Watsco Ventures is based in Miami, Florida.

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