SPECIAL TO CONTRACTOR
OAK CREEK, WIS. — Grunau Co. President Paul Grunau announced in April that he has sold the company to APi Group, a Minnesota-based company now comprised of 29 independently managed specialty contractors across North America. The sale was effective March 31. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
"While Grunau Co. is a financially robust company, I felt strongly that we eventually would need to align ourselves with a larger, more financially capable partner that can help us become an even stronger competitor in our local markets," Grunau said. Grunau had purchased the business from his family seven years ago.
Grunau is ranked number 60 in this year's Book of Giants list of the nation's largest mechanical contractors with revenues of more than $76 million (p. 32).
With nearly $1 billion in annual sales, APi Group's business model is to maintain local management and company identity while sharing corporate and human resources, innovations and economies of scale. Paul Grunau remains as Grunau Co. president and key members of the management team will stay on.
"It is my intent to make this the best deal for everyone involved, including employees, customers and APi Group," Grunau said.
There are no plans to change any of Grunau's operations in Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Orlando, Fla.; or Youngstown, Ohio, as a part of the sale to APi Group. Grunau designs, installs and services mechanical systems, including HVAC, plumbing, fire protection and specialized electrical systems. Grunau Metals, a division of the company, offers specialty metal fabrication services.
APi also owns Doody Mechanical, St. Paul, Minn., and Jamar Co., Duluth, Minn., a mechanical contractor that specializes in pulp/paper, utilities and mining. APi also owns numerous fire-protection contractors, including U.S. Fire Protection, Western States Fire Protection Co. and Viking Automatic Sprinkler Co.
"Grunau Co.'s strong culture, industry knowledge and local relationships are important reasons why APi Group wanted us to join their family of companies," Grunau said. "As part of APi Group, our managers and employees can learn from 28 other best-in-class specialty contractors, helping us find new and better ways to add value in our relationships with our customers."
Grunau said part of his responsibility as president of the company was to make sure that the company — meaning the people in it because they are the company, he said — continue to evolve in a positive way. Businesses need two sources of fuel, Grunau told CONTRACTOR, intellectual and financial capital. He believes that aligning Grunau with APi enlarges his company's access to both.
Moreover, APi doesn't mess with the "secret sauce," he said. Every specialty contractor has a mixture of management, people and corporate culture that make it what it is. APi's approach is to facilitate and nurture, he said, but it keeps its fingers out of the secret sauce.
Headquartered in St. Paul, the APi Group companies provide services in five areas: specialty construction, distribution, fabrication/manufacturing, fire protection and low-voltage systems. A privately held company, APi Group employees own 33% of the company, with the balance held by company founder, Lee Anderson.
"We are excited about Grunau Co. becoming part of our family of specialty contractors," said Russell Becker, president and CEO of APi Group. "Paul and his talented team have built a strong, vibrant company.
"We recognize the value of our member companies maintaining their local identities, operational freedom and local decision-making. We provide greater financial resources, while respecting the geographic and market differences inherent in the construction industry."