Walter Lee Mingledorff

Walter Lee Mingledorff

Walter Lee Mingledorff, Jr. founded the Company in 1939. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in mechanical engineering, Mr. Mingledorff was 25 years old at the time. Mingledorff’s was originally a franchised installation contractor purchasing heating and air conditioning equipment directly from the Carrier Air Conditioning Company. The Company was located in Savannah, Georgia, with a territory that encompassed the eastern lower half of the state of Georgia and part of the Florida Panhandle, including Tallahassee.

Our very first job was to install heating and air conditioning equipment in the home of Mr. Mingledorff’s father-in-law in Savannah. The original compressor that was installed in 1939 is now on display at the corporate headquarters in Norcross, Georgia. This equipment was still operating when it was replaced in 1988–49 years after it was first started.

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Savannah circa 1940’s

During World War II, the Carrier Corporation, headquartered in Syracuse, New York, built tank components for the U.S. Army. Mingledorff’s ceased operations as a business and Lee Mingledorff went to work for the Savannah Machine and Foundry, building mine sweepers for the Navy. Other employees were also put to work for the defense industry, or they went off to war. At the end of the war, the Company was restarted as a direct contractor/distributor with the Carrier Air Conditioning Company. With demand for consumer goods at an all-time high after the war, Mingledorff’s diversified into the retail appliance business and even invented and installed shrimp boat refrigeration equipment. In fact, the first shrimp boat ever specifically built to be refrigerated from the keel up contained our equipment.

During the late 1950’s, we underwent some major consolidations. Our agreement with Carrier was changed to a wholesale distributorship only franchise. Our contracting business, operating by that time in five cities, was sold to the branch managers running those businesses. The appliance business was sold to the manager of the appliance division. The shrimp boat refrigeration business, which had never made a profit, was closed.

In 1958, while all of this was going on, Lee Mingledorff was mayor of Savannah and had no desire to move to Atlanta, which was just beginning to become the transportation and commerce hub of the new South. Ed Eckles, then vice-president (with a background in accounting), became President and the organization moved to Atlanta.graphic-augusta-1950 Ed Eckles had been the Credit Manager at the Savannah Machine and Foundry during the war and had been employed ever since the restart in 1945. Also in 1958, we hired the two wholesale salesmen working for Carrier Atlanta–the other direct contractor/distributor for Carrier. One of those two salesmen was Bob Kesterton, who became President of the Company in 1969, upon the retirement of Ed Eckles.

From 1969 until 1995, Bob Kesterton and his team grew the company from 5 million in total sales to 97 million total sales in 1995. During this time period, the company was able to navigate through the mid-70s residential housing downturn and energy crisis. In addition, Mingledorff’s multi-location expansion began with the opening of our first satellite location in Marietta, Georgia in 1983 and in 1985 we moved our headquarters to Norcross, Georgia– our present location.

graphic-commercial In 1990, Mingledorff’s expanded our product offering acquiring the Bryant air conditioning distribution rights for the territory. Mingledorff’s continued to expand in the early 90’s under Bob’s leadership and ended 1995 with 9 distribution locations including 3 district headquarters located in Savannah, Macon, and Norcross.

In November 1995, Bud Mingledorff took over as President and Mr. Kesterton became Chairman of the Board. Under Mr. Mingledorff’s leadership the company continued its expansion and diversification in the HVAC business. During the late 1990’s Mingledorff’s Inc. opened several new satellite locations including Conyers, Athens, Gainesville, Valdosta, Albany, Columbus and Warner Robins. In addition, several locations went through major expansion, such as Augusta and Lawrenceville. In addition, Mingledorff’s Inc. acquired the rights to sell Carrier’s large applied product while concurrently acquiring Holden & Associates (A Fan & Air Distribution Rep Firm headquartered in Atlanta) in late 1999.

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Bud Mingledorff 2014

January 2008 brought more change when Bud Mingledorff retired and became Chairman of the Board. David Kesterton assumed the duties of President of the company with Bob Kesterton serving as Chairman Emeritus. Expansion continued under David Kesterton’ s leadership with several significant acquisitions in late 2009. Equipment Sales Corporation (Carrier Distributor) based in Mobile, Al was acquired in November 2009. At the same time, Mingledorff’s Inc. acquired the rights to distribute the Bryant brand throughout the region giving them full distribution rights of the Carrier and Bryant throughout South Alabama, the Panhandle of Florida and Southeast Mississippi. Finally, in April 2011, Mingledorff’s Inc. announced the acquisition of the George Wheelock Company based in Birmingham, Al. The Wheelock acquisition helped expand the company’s reach into the commercial market throughout the state of Alabama and solidify their presence in North Alabama with the Bryant, Heil and Mitsubishi brands.

Since 1958, Mingledorff’s has concentrated on our core business as a wholesale distributor to air conditioning contractors and industrial accounts. We have expanded the business through acquisition and continued expansion of regional warehouses and sales office locations. Although we left the retail appliance and shrimp boat business behind many years ago our future is very bright with our mission of dealer and contractor success as our number 1 objective!