Benchmark International Completes Sale of Fast of Florida, Inc to Southern Air & Heat Holdings

International M&A specialist, Benchmark International, has successfully negotiated the sale of its client, FAST of Florida, Inc. (“FAST”) to Southern Air & Heat (“Southern HVAC”), a portfolio company of MSouth Equity Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.

Based in Clearwater, Florida, FAST is a leading provider of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing and electrical sales, installation, and maintenance services to the residential and commercial markets. In 1972, the company was established as a small air conditioning repair shop by Eddie Vaughan. Eddie’s wife, Melissa, joined the company in the early 1980’s, assisting with administrative duties and bookkeeping. As the company grew, FAST evolved to expand its service offerings in order to remain competitive and add additional revenue streams. In 2005, Mr. Vaughan passed away after a long illness, and Melissa assumed ownership of the business. Under Mrs. Vaughan’s leadership, FAST has continued to experience tremendous growth while continuing to offer the same level of quality service the company was built upon. Today, the company employs nearly 50 people serving Pinellas County, Florida and the surrounding markets.

Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, Southern Air & Heat is a leading provider of essential maintenance, repair, replacement and new installation services for the residential and commercial HVAC markets. Currently, the Company serves over 100,000 homeowners across its target markets. Southern HVAC is financially backed by MSouth Equity Partners, a private equity investment firm that provides equity capital and expertise to support management teams of lower middle market companies. Founded in 2007, MSouth manages $1.3 billion with three active funds, and is the successor to Cravey, Green & Wahlen, which was founded in 1984.

President of FAST, Melissa Vaughan, stated, “Benchmark International played an instrumental role in helping me to exit my family legacy business gracefully. The team did an outstanding job of marketing my business toward motivated buyers, and ultimately finding the perfect fit in Southern HVAC. I would like to thank the Benchmark transaction team for the extraordinary effort in making this transaction a reality.”

“Our focus was to find the acquirer that shared FAST’s passion and commitment to providing a personalized level of service while retaining the culture that Melissa has worked so hard to preserve,” said Trevor Talkie, Senior Associate at Benchmark International. “FAST is a compelling addition to MSouth’s growing HVAC platform, and we are truly honored to have worked alongside Melissa and her team toward this successful outcome.”

Tyrus O’Neill, Director at Benchmark International added, “After the journey Melissa has been through, we’re happy to see the process reach an ideal end result. On behalf of Benchmark International, I’d like to wish both parties the best of luck moving forward.”


Benchmark International’s global offices provide business owners in the middle market and lower middle market with creative, value-maximizing solutions for growing and exiting their businesses. To date, Benchmark International has handled engagements in excess of $5B across 30 industries worldwide. With decades of global M&A experience, Benchmark International’s deal teams, working from 13 offices across the world, have assisted hundreds of owners achieve their personal objectives and ensure the continued growth of their businesses.


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