Scott Co. Buys Natkin

Special to CONTRACTOR SAN LEANDRO, CALIF. Scott Co. of California has bought Natkin Contracting LLC from general contractor Tutor-Saliba Corp., Sylmar, Calif. Its been a slow descent for the once-proud firm, which had been victimized by corporate raider Victor Posner. In the early 1990s, Natkin Group was the second-largest mechanical contractor in the country with revenues of more than $270 million.

Special to CONTRACTOR

SAN LEANDRO, CALIF. — Scott Co. of California has bought Natkin Contracting LLC from general contractor Tutor-Saliba Corp., Sylmar, Calif. It’s been a slow descent for the once-proud firm, which had been victimized by corporate raider Victor Posner.

In the early 1990s, Natkin Group was the second-largest mechanical contractor in the country with revenues of more than $270 million. The firm had been bought in the 1970s by Fischbach Corp., owner of electrical giant Fischbach & Moore. Posner took over Fischbach in the 1990s. Posner decimated the firm, was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission and was ordered by a federal judge to never be an officer in a public corporation again.

As recently as 1996, Natkin was listed in CONTRACTOR’s Book of Giants as the third largest mechanical in the country, with revenues of $240 million. (EMCOR Group was No. 1 that year with revenues of $640 million.) Last year it had fallen to 87th place with revenues of $46 million (May 2002, pg. 18).

Scott Co. consummated the deal in December 2002, said President Joseph A. Guglielmo. He would not reveal how much the firm had paid.

Natkin Contracting LLC is not affiliated with Natkin Service Co. In 1962, a Natkin Service office was opened in Omaha, Neb., with its sole responsibility to providing service to existing and new customers. In 1997, York International Corp. acquired Natkin Service with the idea of expanding its service offering in areas not covered by the York Factory Branches. Natkin Service was able to keep its own identity. Natkin Service has 10 branches in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Tallahassee, Fla.; San Jose, Calif.; Little Rock, Ark.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Dallas; Denver; and Peoria, Ill.

Scott Co. had taken over Natkin Contracting’s Tulsa office in June 2002. Natkin was going to close it and Scott stepped in, put the employees on its payroll and took over the operation for nothing.

“We’re hoping to slowly turn around Natkin’s business and their reputation,” Guglielmo said. “Their reputation the last couple of years has been on the low side, probably because their cash flow was bad and the general contractor [Tutor-Saliba] didn’t want to pump a lot of money into it.”

Guglielmo said he’s spoken to Natkin’s vendors and Denver-area general contractors and all are happy that Scott has taken it over. The company will continue to conduct business under the Natkin name.

Guglielmo believes there’s enough work in the “Colorado corridor” to keep Natkin viable, “plus it’s extremely difficult for a general contractor to run a mechanical contractor,” Guglielmo said. “It’s a different ballgame.”

Natkin has about 200 employees in the field and office. The firm performs high-tech and high-rise work, much of it commercial and mostly on the HVAC side. Its customers are developers and general contractors. Guglielmo noted that Scott Co. has more experience on the plumbing and piping side and has strong industrial business.

“Now Scott can bring plumbing and piping to the table,” Guglielmo said, bringing broader capabilities to the combined company.