Lennox International announced that it is purchasing Service Experts, a firm comprised of HVAC contractors across the United States. The acquisition will result in Lennox becoming one of the largest providers of residential HVAC equipment and services in the North American retail market, the company said.

"While we remain strongly committed to our independent and associate dealers, our acquisition of Service Experts represents an historic opportunity for Lennox to dramatically accelerate its growth in the retail HVAC business segment," said Lennox Chairman and CEO John Norris.

Lennox President and COO Bob Schjerven also expressed continued support for all the company's dealers, whether acquired, associate or independent. He emphasized that the majority of the more than 6,000 Lennox dealerships operate independently.

Jim Mishler, president of Lennox's retail operations, will be responsible for integrating Service Experts' businesses into the existing Lennox retail organization. This agreement brings Lennox's total retail HVAC dealerships to more than 200, with total annual sales revenue of more than $900 million.

The acquisition will be accomplished with an exchange of shares, which allows Service Experts to merge into Lennox, providing that each Service Experts share will be exchanged for the right to receive 0.67 Lennox International shares.

The acquisition is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2000.