The original owners of Colonial Mechanical Corp. of Richmond, Va., and Webb Technologies of Norfolk, Va., bought those companies back from Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp.; the deal closed on Jan. 16 but terms were not disclosed.

Colonial Mechanical and Webb Technologies were part of FirstEnergy's Facilities Services Group subsidiary, which ranked No. 11 in the 2002 Pipe Trades Giants list of the nation's largest pipe trades contractors, compiled by Plumbing & Mechanical (PM) magazine. Colonial was purchased in 1998, and Webb in 1999.

The two companies will form Virginia's largest mechanical contractor, with $150 million in annual revenues and 1,250 employees. Howard Webb Sr. will remain as chief executive officer of Webb Technologies, and Mitchell F. Haddon, formerly the president of Colonial's Service Group, will take on the role of Colonial's CEO. Robert Norton was named president of Colonial's Construction Group.

Another large utility, New Jersey-based PSEG, decided to get out of the mechanical contracting business altogether. In financial releases dated July and October of 2002, the company reported charges related to "decisions to discontinue operations of PSEG Energy Technologies," the company's mechanical contracting arm. These decisions were "based on a review of its strategic fit with PSEG," said E. James Ferland, chairman and chief executive officer of PSEG.

No mention was made as to the fate of the 13 companies comprising PSEG Energy Technologies, which ranked No. 8 on PM's Pipe Trades Giants list last year. Calls made to PSEG were not returned by press time.

Encompass Services Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2002, also has had offers to buy back companies it had acquired. Al Hitchcock and David Gregg, executives of the former Charleston, S.C.-based CR Hipp Construction, have made an offer to buy back the company's name and assets from Encompass, which bought the company in 1999 and renamed it EMS Charleston.

The proposal is awaiting the approval by a Texas bankruptcy court judge, according to The Post and Courier.

There is also an effort by Hungerford Mechanical of Richmond, Va., to return local ownership, said the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The company merged with Houston's Group America Maintenance Corp. in 1988. Group America then merged with Building One Services Corp. to form Encompass.

Encompass Services was No. 4 in PM's 2002 Giants ranking.