The Master Group Acquired RSC; PE Strikes


Private equity firms, which always seem to have access to funds, are looking to acquire distributors, believing this is a growth segment for them

In the electrical industry, within the past six months two independent distributors have been acquired by private equity firms with the previous owners remaining involved in the business … professionally and financially. The benefit is that they have found a way to exit the business and financially benefiting while also gain access to incremental resources to invest into the business and have an incentive to further accelerate growth, via bolt-on acquisitions, and eventually profit from “the next sale.” One of the companies was acquired by CID Capital.

The same appears to be happening in the HVACR segment.

Last June, Munch’s Supply was acquired by Marcone. Munch’s had been owned by Ridgemont Equity Partners. Marcone is a portfolio company of Genstar Capital. In November, Marcone added BellSimons‘ 29 branches to its Munch’s Supply division, giving the company a 103 branch reach across 18 states and Ontario.

Now comes the next acquisition as Canadian-based Novacap backed The Master Group acquired Ohio-based Refrigeration Sales Corporation which serves eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

According to the press release:

“The Master Group, Canada’s largest and one of North America’s leading independent HVAC-R industry distributors, announced today the acquisition of Refrigeration Sales Corporation (RSC) based in Ohio.

RSC, founded in 1945, is an independent distributor specializing in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration products, earning a remarkable reputation as a trusted HVAC-R supplier, serving Ohio and Western Pennsylvania through its Whole Server mission of Service, Speed, Expertise, and Relationships.

The acquisition provides The Master Group with extensive coverage in Ohio and Pennsylvania and represents a significant expansion of the Canadian group’s footprint marking its second acquisition in the United States.

“Our vision is to become the leading HVAC-R distributor in North America, and when we considered strategic partners in the United States, RSC’s reputation for excellence, quality management, and alignment with our core values made them a natural choice,” says The Master Group CEO, Louis St-Laurent.

Neil McDougall, President of The Master Group, notes, “For nearly 80 years, RSC has built its reputation by relentlessly serving customers. I am extremely excited to work with their great team and help supercharge their growth aspirations.”

The Master Group has committed to expanding its presence in the North American HVAC-R market, having secured significant growth capital from its long-term partnership with Novacap. This significant investment is fueling their latest strategic partnership with Ohio-based Refrigeration Sales Corporation (RSC), cementing The Master Group’s position as a leader in the HVAC-R industry.

RSC will continue to operate independently across Ohio and Pennsylvania with the current management team led by Rhonda Wight, President and CEO. “This strategic partnership with The Master Group offers many exciting opportunities. We share a passion for the industry and providing exceptional service. The RSC management team is confident that together we can do great things for our valued customers and partners,” adds Rhonda Wight.

The Master Group and RSC’s partnership will enable both companies to enhance their products, services, and value proposition to their customers. The partnership reflects the companies’ shared commitment to quality, customer satisfaction, and innovation, and the acquisition is expected to create a significant growth opportunity for both organizations.”


  • Private equity is interested in construction, and industrial, distribution as the distribution segment are known as strong cash flow businesses. Further, they know that there is a value to the local focus but that there are corporate synergies that quickly can make the companies more valuable (and profitable).
  • These companies recognize the aging dynamic occurring within distribution and can utilize existing management to facilitate transition and “hunt” for acquisitions through their personal networks.
  • They also recognize that there is synergy is key line alignment and will look for acquisitions that enable technology and key platform line synergies.
  • While Novacap, through The Master Group and RSC may be open to platform-related acquisitions throughout the country, they may be more focused in seeking companies that are contiguous to their current platforms before expanding throughout the country.
  • Private equity recognizes that there are “roll-opportunities to create either regional powerhouses or other national chains. Worst case, they grow the business and flip it to another private equity firm.
  • And then there are the case studies of WESCO, Core and Main and others were private equity entered the market, enhanced the company, and then took it public and profited handsomely.

Do you think PE entering the industry is good for the industry? What do you think the over / under will be for the number of distributors acquired this year?

Share on:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top