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Sarasota-Manatee
Business Observer Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 9 months ago

Well-known HVAC industry business owner dies at 72

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Mark Anderson grew the Cortez Heating and Air Conditioning company from five to 40 employees during the span of his ownership.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

With a little help from his family to purchase the company, Mark Anderson embarked on a 35-year journey at the helm of Cortez Heating and Air Conditioning. 

“That’s what brought our family to Sarasota,” Anderson’s son Matthew Anderson says. “Over time, Mark completely transformed the company.” 

Through his involvement in industry-led organizations, Anderson was well-known in the HVAC industry, both on a local and national level. “He was a wonderful businessman,” Matthew says. 

Anderson was married to his former wife Candace Anderson for 40 years before remarrying Marcia Watson. Earlier this year, the duo sold the business. 

Mark Anderson died Dec. 12 in his home with Watson at his side. He was 72. 

Growing up Anderson lived all over the country. Prior to moving to Sarasota in 1986, Anderson worked for Stryker Corp. while living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he purchased Bradenton-based Cortez, he kept the name. 

Dave Shepard worked with Anderson for 24 years. “Mark was very dedicated to seeing his
business and the HVAC industry as a whole to become better,” Shepard writes in an email. “He did this by seeing that each person, themselves, became better.” 

Shepard says Anderson did a lot to ensure that came to fruition. Everything from creating an apprenticeship program used to train technicians to offering employees stock ownership plans. 

“He ultimately wanted each individual to succeed,” he says. “Mark helped to teach me to pay attention to the little things.” 

Almost on a weekly basis Anderson would leave little handwritten notes for Shepard with questions regarding different aspects of the business. 

“He did this, not to get an answer to something that he didn't already know, but rather to teach me to pay attention to the details,” Shepard says. “He also impressed upon me to always do the right thing no matter what it takes.” 

Early on in Shepard’s career, there was a large project that needed to be returned and reworked. “When I inquired about the additional billing we would need to submit for this work, he simply stated that it wasn't done right the first time so this is on us to make it right,” he says. 

It was this type of customer service that led to a successful business. 

At the time when Anderson bought the business, it was mostly a construction company with about 15% of the business focused on residential services. It had five employees. After a decade of ownership, Anderson began transforming the company to a commercial-only service business. In 1997, he purchased Penn Mechanical. 

As of last year, the company had grown to more than 40 employees. When Watson and Anderson sold the business to Michael Epperson of Flow Service Partners, a company in Tennessee, they continued to remain under contract with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in place for a year. Watson will continue to manage the finances until the new owners have figured out how to proceed.  

Anderson was apart of several industry-leading organizations including: 

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers
  • Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association
  • Florida Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Contractors Association 
  • Gulf Coast Builders Exchange

The Cortez website states Anderson sustained these organizations for nearly 40 years. Shepard adds that Anderson had air conditioning contracting licenses in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and North Carolina. “His influence has greatly impacted me,” Shepard says, “and I would not be the person I am today without his guidance.”

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