A.O. Smith acquiring Appleton-based Water-Right

Expands water treatment offerings to wholesale, dealer channels

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. has acquired Appleton-based Water-Right Inc. for $107 million in cash.

Known for its boilers and water heaters in North America, A.O. Smith pushed into the North American water treatment market in 2016 with the acquisition of Aquasana, a filtration company, and added Hague, a water softening company in 2017. The company has primarily offered its products through retail channels, including a line of offerings at Lowe’s stores that launched in August 2018.

The acquisition, which closed Monday, includes all Water-Right subsidiaries, real estate and Mineral-Right Inc., its sister company. Water-Right provides a line of residential and commercial water treatment products and systems for a wide variety of applications, including problem well water.

“The acquisition of Water-Right squarely supports A. O. Smith’s growth trajectory in water treatment and enables A. O. Smith to expand beyond its strong presence in the direct-to-consumer and retail spaces with Water-Right’s capabilities in the wholesale and independent water quality dealer channels,” said Kevin Wheeler, president and CEO of A.O. Smith.

Sales in the North American water treatment business have grown from $18 million in 2016 to $87 million last year. Prior to the Water-Right deal, the company said it expected sales to grow another 35% to 40% in 2019 as the company benefits from a full year as the exclusive water treatment supplier to Lowe’s home improvement stores.

Water-Right will add around $60 million in annual sales and 90 employees to the company’s water treatment business.

Kurt Gruett, Guy Gruett and Greg Gruett will continue to lead the businesses. Water-Right offices will remain in Appleton and Mineral-Right will remain in Phillipsburg, Kansas, A.O. Smith said. Glenn Gruett, Water-Right founder, will continue to provide insight and business counsel.

“We’re honored and excited that the business founded and nurtured by my father and expanded by my brothers and me is finding a long-term future home with A. O. Smith, an innovative and global leader in water technology,” said Kurt Gruett, Water-Right president. “We’re confident that A. O. Smith – with its global capabilities and manufacturing expertise – will be able to take Water-Right and its family of products to the next level.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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