News in brief.

Hercules Goes ESOP

The Board of Directors of the Hercules Chemical Co. Inc. announced the sale of the company to its employees in late April. The purchase was structured using an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

David Siegal, president and CEO, said the primary focus of the company will be to continue Hercules Chemical tradition.

Siegal — along with Leonard Ruvolo, vice president and chief financial officer, and Thomas O’Flaherty, vice president sales and marketing — have been elected directors of the company.

Profit Report Honored

The Construction Writers Association has selected PHC Profit Report as its 1998 winner of the T. Randolph Russell Award for the best construction newsletter. PHC Profit Report, which is the industry’s only paid subscription newsletter, is a spin-off from PM, and has been published since 1993. The newsletter also won the award in 1994 and 1997. For subscription information, call 800/837-8337.

June Construction Continues To Rise

U.S. construction executives remain confident the economic conditions that have propelled growth in their sector will improve through June, despite a modest drop in price level expectations, according to The Dun & Bradstreet Corp.’s March survey of 200 construction executives. However, those surveyed also said current conditions for order books, employment and prices have dipped markedly.

ASA Warns Subcontractors

The American Subcontractors Association Inc. (ASA) warned construction subcontractors that new model subcontracts published by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) contain provisions that are “perilous for subcontractors.”

AGC’s new 650i and 655i forms shift the financial risks of construction projects from general contractors to subcontractors, according to Dan Biedenbender, ASA president.

Service Experts Announces 24 Acquisitions

Service Experts Inc. (NYSE: SVE) announced it has completed the acquisition of 24 heating, ventilating and air conditioning companies, representing annualized revenues in access of $40.5 million.

Since Jan. 1, Service Experts has completed the acquisition of 11 new service centers and 13 tuck-in companies.

ServiCenter USA Acquires Five Companies

ServiCenter USA closed or has pending acquisitions to acquire five companies with aggregate annual revenues in excess of $31 million, according to its parent company, Northwestern (NYSE: NPS). ServiCenter USA’s annualized revenues will be in excess of $121 million. The transactions put the company in 14 U.S. markets in 13 states.

Mestek Acquires Ruscio Brothers

Mestek Inc. announced it has purchased Ruscio Brothers Industries in late April. Mestek offers a line of Smith Cast-Iron Boilers, Hydrotherm, Beacon/Morris and Sterling. RBI manufacturers residential and commercial copper-fin boilers and water heaters.

Studor, IPS Merge

Studor Holdings Inc. merged with IPS Corp. in early April, according to the companies’ two executives. The merger will combine the strong U.S. plumbing distribution network and resources of IPS with the Studor air admittance valve products.

Amcast Completes Lee Brass Acquistion

Amcast Industrial Corp. (NYSE: AIZ) announced today that it has completed the previously announced purchase of privately owned Lee Brass Co., Anniston, AL.

Lee Brass is a major manufacturer of cast brass and bronze products for residential, commercial and industrial plumbing systems.

In a related action, Amcast announced that it would phase out brass operations at Flagg Brass, Stowe, PA, and transfer the product line to Lee Brass.

Amcast Industrial Corp. manufacturers technology-intensive products.

Employease Sign Comfort Systems USA

Employease® Inc. announced it signed Comfort Systems USA for its total benefits outsourcing service.

Employease helps small- to mid-sized companies administer their human resources and employee benefits more effectively by giving them technology and services that had previously been available only to the Fortune 2000.

Comfort System USA will use Employease to streamline the process of bringing new employees into the company’s benefit program, as well as managing human resources and employee benefits for existing employees.

Burnham Reports Earnings, Declares Dividend

Burnham Corp. reported earnings for the quarter ended March 31, 1998. The company reported first quarter sales of $35.4 million vs. $31.3 million in the same period of 1997. Thermo Products Inc., acquired by the company in August 1997, accounted for $4.7 million of sales in the period.

The Burnham Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $.43 per share on the common stock of the company.

National Toilet Repair Month

Fluidmaster has officially designated October as National Toilet Repair Month. Once again, the month will kick off with the Fluidmaster Flush Off, a zany talent contest celebrating toilet flushing. Contestants will vie for cash prizes by performing their best vocal impersonation of a toilet flush.

October was chosen for National Toilet Repair Month because it is historically a strong sales period for toilet repair products since many homes need repairs prior to holiday events and the arrival of house guests.

Triangle Tube Chairman Dies

Louis Buchet, Triangle Tube/Phase III chairman of the board, died April 15 while in Switzerland. Buchet, who was also president of ACV International and president of the European Boiler Manufacturers Association, died accidentally when he slipped off a mountain side and fell to his death.

He is survived by a wife and two sons.