United Distributors Inc. owners Mark Blackwell and Craig Boesdorfer didn’t intend to stay in the water business for 40 years.
The childhood friends moved to Florida from Illinois to escape the cold and answered a blind newspaper ad for water purification and conditioning equipment sales.
“The very first day we came down here we saw a water presentation and just were blown away by what the equipment would do, how bad the water was, how many benefits you could provide customers,” Blackwell said. “We got sold on it and we got excited about it.”
Within a few years of working with the company, the men took out a loan to buy the franchise rights for United Standard products in Florida and Georgia.
They opened United Distributors Inc. in 1979 on Atlantic Boulevard and moved to 11225 St. Johns Industrial Parkway North in 1997.
United Distributors sells residential water purification and conditioning products. Last year, the company did $13 million in sales compared to $11 million the year before.
It has offices in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. The company sells directly to customers and installs systems within two days.
Blackwell and Boesdorfer knew that they wanted to sell the company and leave it in good hands while they were still in good health.
They sold the company in June to Scott Koizumi, a former executive at Illinois Tool Works.
Boesdorfer’s final day was last week. He plans to spend more time with his grandchildren. Blackwell said he will stay with the company until at least the end of the year to help in the transition to the new ownership.
Before buying United Distributors through Emiko LLC, Koizumi worked with Illinois Tool Works, where he helped the company acquire firms, streamline and integrate them.
Blackwell and Boesdorfer went through several buyers before finding Koizumi. They felt Koizumi wouldn’t immediately start making significant changes to the company.
Koizumi was looking for a company to acquire, came across United Distributors, and decided it was a good match.
“The thing that attracted me to UDI is one, they’re stable,” he said. “They’ve been around for 40 years. They’re a relatively large company. It’s profitable and has a good business model and a good reputation.”
Koizumi declined to say how much he paid for the company. Court records show that Emiko LLC paid $915,000 for the 1½-acre property and the 11,285 square-foot building, developed in 1985.
With time, Koizumi also wants to expand United Distributors into South Florida.
Boesdorfer said Koizumi already “streamlined” the business – digitizing and automating functions previously done on paper. But for the most part, Koizumi said he’s spent his three months with the company listening and learning about the business and its employees.
Many of the firm’s 99 employees have been with the company for more than 15 years, Blackwell said. Some have been there almost since the company opened in 1979, and they’ll all keep their jobs through the sale.
Randy Johnson, director of promotions and marketing, has been with the company for 37 years.
“The reason why people have stayed so long, it’s the integrity of Mark and Craig,” Johnson said. “Their leadership as owners and their caring for the staff.
“They just believe so much in our product line. ‘Wow, we sell the best system’ is how they feel about it. People who have been here a long time, it’s almost like a spiritual feeling about how great our product is and the company behind it.”