With a little help from his family to buy the business, Mark Anderson embarked on a 35-year journey as the head of Cortez Heating and Air Conditioning.
“That’s what brought our family to Sarasota,” says Anderson’s son Matthew Anderson. “Over time, Mark has completely transformed the business.
Through his involvement in industry-led organizations, Anderson was well known in the HVAC industry, both locally and nationally. “He was a great businessman,” says Matthew.
Anderson was married to his ex-wife Candace Anderson for 40 years before remarrying Marcia Watson. Earlier this year, the duo sold the business.
Mark Anderson died on December 12 in his home with Watson by his side. He was 72 years old.
Growing up, Anderson lived across the country. Before moving to Sarasota in 1986, Anderson worked for Stryker Corp. while living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he bought Bradenton-based Cortez, he kept the name.
Dave Shepard worked with Anderson for 24 years. “Mark was very devoted to seeing his
the business and the HVAC industry as a whole to improve, ”Shepard wrote in an email. “He did this seeing that each person, himself, was getting better. ”
Shepard says Anderson has done a lot to make sure this happens. Everything from creating an apprenticeship program to train technicians to offering employee share plans.
“He ultimately wanted every individual to be successful,” he says. “Mark helped me learn to pay attention to the little things.”
Almost every week Anderson left little handwritten notes for Shepard with questions about different aspects of the business.
“He did this, not to get an answer to something he didn’t already know, but rather to teach me to pay attention to details,” Shepard says. “He also pushed me to always do the right thing, no matter what.”
At the start of Shepard’s career, there was a big project that needed to be flipped and reworked. “When I inquired about the additional billing we needed to submit for this job, he just said it wasn’t done right the first time around, so it’s up to us to do it right,” he says. .
It is this type of customer service that has led to a successful business.
At the time Anderson bought the business, it was primarily a construction company with around 15% of the business focused on residential services. It had five employees. After a decade of ownership, Anderson began transforming the business into a commercial-only service business. In 1997 he bought Penn Mechanical.
Last year, the company had more than 40 employees. When Watson and Anderson sold the business to Michael Epperson of Flow Service Partners, a Tennessee company, they continued to remain under contract with an employee stock purchase plan in place for a year. Watson will continue to manage the finances until the new owners understand how to do it.
Anderson was part of several leading industry organizations including:
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers
- Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association
- Florida Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association
- Gulf Coast Builders’ Exchange
Cortez’s website says Anderson has supported these organizations for almost 40 years. Shepard adds that Anderson had air conditioning contract licenses in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and North Carolina. “His influence touched me a lot,” Shepard said, “and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his guidance.”