Watsco, based in Coconut Grove, Fla., announced in December it had executed a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Durham, N.C.-based East Coast Metal Distributors. The transaction was expected to close by the end of January. The undisclosed purchase price is payable in a combination of cash and Watsco common stock with the cash portion coming from Watsco's cash on hand.

Watsco said the acquisition will increase its presence in the southeastern part of the United States. East Coast operates 27 locations, including 24 wholesale locations and three commercial manufacturer representative locations, and has 386 employees. The company serves more than 3,500 air conditioning and heating contractors throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee, five of the top 20 markets for HVAC products in the nation, Watsco said in a statement. East Coast distributes air conditioning and heating equipment and related parts and supplies to the new construction and replacement markets.

East Coast has operated for 50 years under the continuous ownership and management of the Files family and since 1985 has been led by Jeff Files, the son of Dale Files. Dale Files and James Smith founded the company in 1954. During the last 10 years, the East Coast team has increased revenues at a 13% compounded annual growth rate. Its annual revenues are expected to be $180 million in 2004. The company was ranked ninth in the HVACR segment leaders section of SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES' 2004 Premier 150.

“East Coast will operate as a subsidiary of Watsco under its present name and superb management team and Watsco will provide resources where needed to assist with East Coast's growth plans,” Albert Nahmad, Watsco's chairman/CEO, said in a statement.

Watsco's culture is to provide capital and relationships to its new, already established acquisitions and let them develop their own growth plan, said Barry Logan, senior vice president. “We put them on a pedestal,” he said.

Watsco currently has eight subsidiaries with 317 locations in 31 states and Puerto Rico. It was ranked as the top HVACR wholesaler in the SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES 2004 Premier 150.

For more information, visit www.watsco.com and www.ecmdi.com.