There has been a massive shakeup in Australia’s wholesaler market in the past decade. CCN looks back at the biggest changes that have taken place here and throughout the region.
The changes really began in January 2014 when Reece Australia signed a binding agreement for the 100 per cent purchase of Actrol Parts Holdings.
It also included subsidiaries consisting of Actrol Parts and AC Components, trading as Metalflex and Air Plus.
A formal letter signed by Reece CEO Peter Wilson, Actrol Parts CEO David Willett and AC Components CEO Tim O’Leary was sent to customers notifying them of the sale.
"With the Actrol Group identified as having a compelling strategic fit with Reece, the acquisition represents a unique opportunity for Reece to establish a presence in Australia’s refrigeration and air conditioning industries,” the letter said.
Actrol Parts and AC Components continued to operate under their existing brands. Since then Actrol has continued to expand its national footprint across Australia.
For example in November 2019 Actrol strengthened its retail network announcing plans to open six branches in early 2020. By this time the wholesaler had 80 branches in operation across Australia and New Zealand.
Earlier this year the Reece Group acquired Barsco, a HVAC distributor based in Dallas in the US.
Barsco was founded nearly 90 years ago and supplies refrigeration and HVAC equipment, parts and supplies across Texas from 12 locations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Other power players in Australia’s wholesaler market include Totaline which has been operating for more than 25 years.
Totaline was best known for being the Factory Authorised Parts suppliers for Carrier & Toshiba brand air conditioners and Carrier commercial products.
In 2021 Totaline launched its new online e-commerce platform which allows customers to purchase entire product offerings from a single window.
Another local powerhouse in the Australian market is JNG which has continued to spread its wings with distribution deals for a long list of big name brands.
JNG is a supplier for Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Daikin, Toshiba, Javac and Brivis, just to name a few.
In December 2014 JNG Australia announced that Temperzone and Hitachi spare parts were also part of their offering.
“We are pleased to be able to maintain our growth as a company,” JNG Australia said in a statement.
By 2016 the wholesaler was continuing to expand creating a one stop shop for HVACR spare parts. The JNG catalogue was still growing and included Samsung, Carrier, and generic parts including Fasco motors, soft starter kits and capacitors.
JNG also has a team of spare parts specialists to provide customer support.
The Australian -owned company distributes air conditioning spare parts throughout both Australia and New Zealand.
In December 2017, JNG announced that Fujitsu spare parts had been added to its product range.
The expansion continued in June 2018 with the announcement that LG spare parts were also added to their expanding product range.
In July 2019, ActronAir became the latest company to enlist the support of JNG for spare parts distribution.
Today, JNG currently supplies spare parts for most leading brands.
One company that has had a significant impact on Australia’s wholesaler market is Swedish company, Beijer Ref, a company that has been on a worldwide acquisition spree since 2015.
The company is now a major player in the Asia Pacific region.
Back in 2015 Beijer Ref made its local expansion plans clear with its acquisition of Realcold and Patton.
These acquisitions were big news, both companies were well established in the Australian market. And while Beijer Ref was new to Australia, the company certainly wasn’t a new player in the global wholesaler market.
The company was well established in Europe but had global ambitions.
In March 2018 Beijer Ref acquired Heatcraft Australia, , a wholly owned subsidiary of Lennox International, in a deal worth around $90 million.
Announcing the deal, Beijer Ref said arrangements were in place to immediately dispose of Heatcraft's New Zealand operations to address any competition concerns.
Beijer Ref said the acquisition is in line with its strategy to grow outside Europe.
Heatcraft had more than 300 employees in Australia when the deal was announced.
Within 12 months Heatcraft business became known as Kirby. The rebrand was an evolution of the acquisition of Heatcraft Australia by Beijer Ref in April 2018.
The new logo Kirby - A Beijer Ref Company, unified the business with the global Beijer Ref Group and carried forward the heritage of the Kirby brand, established in Australia since 1924.
Beijer Ref followed this up in January 2020 acquiring Australian HVAC company, ACD Trade.
The 20 year old company had 60 employees when the deal was announced as well as a distribution network of nine branches.
Annuall turnover for ACD Trade was around $83 million.
Beijer buyout timeline
January 2021 - Beijer Ref acquires Australian air conditioning distribution company Complete Air Supply (CAS).
February 2021 - Beijer Ref's Australian manufacturing operation, SCM REF Australia, completes it relocation to a new purpose-built facility at Bankstown in Sydney's south-west.
June 2021 - To further strengthen its position in the region Beijer Ref acquired the assets of Industrial Refrigeration Components (IRC). Beijer Ref also enters into an exclusive cooperation agreement for the distribution of LU-VE products.
August 2021 - Beijer Ref enters into an agreement to acquire all the shares in the New Caledonian HVACR distribution company, Froid et Clim Distribution (FCD).
September 2021 - To diversity its portfolio Beijer Ref acquires 100 per cent of Armcor.
October 2021 - Beijer Ref acquires all shares in Australian distribution company Airstream.
December 2021 - Beijer Ref signs two new agreements to acquire Clima Solutions, a HVAC supplier based in Auckland, New Zealand, and Patton Albury, a wholesaler based in Albury, Australia.
December 2022 - Beijer Ref moves into the North American market with the acquisition of Heritage Distribution Holdings in a $US1.27 billion deal.
July 2023 - Effective 1 July 2023, customers can source a wide range of Embraco compressors and condensing units from any of the 62 Kirby branches throughout Australia.
September 2023 - Beijer Ref acquires the assets of AMSCO Supply.
November 2023 - Beijer Ref acquires Turner Engineering, a HVAC distributor headquartered in Perth, Western Australia. The company was established 45 years ago.