By Rich Thomaselli from Southern Dutchess News
One of the Hudson Valley’s oldest and most venerable businesses has been sold. Fishkill-based N&S Supply was acquired earlier this month by Watsco Inc., the largest distribution network for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration products in the nation.
But don’t worry.
For N&S Supply and its more than 10,000 annual customers, nothing will change – not the name, not the service and not its place as one of the area’s leading heating, air conditioning, hydronic heating and plumbing product distributors. In fact, the only thing that’s going to change is further monetization of the business and greater access to technology. “Watsco keeps you as you are,” N&S owner Wayne Nussbickel told the Southern Dutchess News. “Other (would-be buyers) basically want to gut you. We worked too hard over the years to not preserve our name and reputation. Watsco said they appreciated our reputation and why would they want to change that?”
In a statement, Albert H. Nahmad, Watsco’s Chairman and CEO, said: ”N&S Supply has a wonderful legacy and we are proud to become part of their family. As is our custom, the company will operate under its existing name under the direction of its current leadership team.”
N&S Supply was founded 1946 and operates seven locations in the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. Nussbickel said the company was coming off its best year financially, but there was a method to the madness to selling now. One was the aforementioned ability to keep its brand; the other was what the future holds.
“The biggest thing is technology. Where are we in our career as a business and what is the best thing to do moving forward?” he said, noting that N&S has 115 full-time-equivalent positions but to develop apps, for instance, would be a costly venture – apps, by the way, that Watsco already has in place.
The New Jersey-based DAK Group, a leading investment bank specializing in middle-market mergers and acquisitions worldwide, served as the advisor to N&S. “When companies in the middle market want to be sold or expand, they hire us, DAK Group President Alan Scharfstein told the Southern Dutchess News. “In this particular case, N&S saw the world around them was changing. Competition was getting greater. They hired us to find the right company to partner with, ·and the right partner was a company that would allow them to keep their identity because of the reputation they have in the Hudson Valley, while at the same time adding new elements to the business.”
There were several suitors over a 10- month period, Scharfstein said, but ultimately it was the company with a $7 billion market cap that emerged. “Initially we do our due diligence on the business, develop an understanding of it, we create presentation materials and make sure we present the company properly,” Scharfstein said. “We knew of Watsco because they’re the 500-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to the HVAC sector.” Nussbickel said the hardest part of the nearly year-long process was keeping it from his employees so as not to worry them. “That was the most frustrating, to shield them,” he said. “Our people are our biggest asset. To us,’the worst thing would have been speculation and worry. We had to keep a tight lid on it and DAK was instrumental in that. It was great to be able to tell our employees the news and tell them that nothing would be changing.”
Source: Southern Dutchess News