1969 - 1979
Horner Equipment of Florida, Inc. was founded February 1969, by Earl Horner. Prior to that time, Earl had been Sales Manager for a branch of Universal Pool Products, a wholesale distributor of swimming pool supplies, with the home office in Texas. The branch was in North Miami. Universal Pool Products is no longer in business.
In April 1972, the current owner, Bill Kent, joined this Company as a partner. At that time, the Company had three employees. In mid 1973, Mr. Horner suffered a series of serious heart attacks and eventually sold his share of the company to Bill, who became sole owner of all Team Horner® Group of Companies.
In 1976, the Company purchased the warehouse building at 810 NW 57th Court from the original landlord in order to secure the future of the Company. One year later, faced with a space shortage, the adjacent building was purchased. As the Company continued to expand both its sales and staff size, adjacent warehouse bays were leased to provide office and extra storage space.
In 1977, the Company opened an international subsidiary company, Horner Equipment International, Inc., and added a telex and bilingual personnel. The Caribbean, Central and South American markets were successfully opened up.
In 1979, another subsidiary, Horner Installation and Solar Sales, Inc., was formed to expand the Company’s commitment to its solar pool heating product line. In addition to selling the solar systems, the Company offered complete turn-key installation and warranty service to its dealer network. The Company had a full-time solar sales manager and installation crew. In February 1983, this service was discontinued because of a change in product line to heat pumps.
1980 - 1989
In 1982, the company developed plans for a new building to suit future needs. It purchased property (2 acres), designed the warehouse and office facilities, and built the building in 1983-84. The company facilities were doubled to 40,000 square feet (3,716 square meters).
In June 1983, a new subsidiary company, Horner Marketing Services, Inc., was formed. This department acts as an Importer and as a national marketing agency for certain types of pool products. This service is still available to small specialty manufacturers who do not wish to market the products they have developed.
In 1985, Horner Equipment International was expanded through the acquisition of Discus Inc., a Palo Alto, California worldwide exporter from Hank Mohr. Horner Discus International, Inc. has become a Global Company, with customers throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Europe, the Far East, the Pacific Basin, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East. The company services swimming pool, spa and general engineering companies throughout the entire world, and ships merchandise from over 10 ports on both the East and West Coast of the United States.
In January 1987, the two export companies were renamed Horner Discus International, Inc. to avoid confusion by customers.
In 1989, Horner Discus International, Inc. acquired the Linx Corporation, Seattle, Washington. Linx was a specialty exporter of sauna equipment.
Also, in 1989, the Company received a Trademark for its Team Horner® Logo.
In October 1989, the Company opened a full-scale Advertising Department. A Macintosh Desk Top Publishing System was purchased. Advertising services are geared to support both our manufacturing and our customers' needs.
1990 - 1999
In September 1990, Team Horner® continued its expansion with the acquisition of Felicella Consulting Engineers. The name was changed to Horner Consulting Engineers, Inc. HCE, which employed six design engineers and additional drafting & CAD technicians, servicing the swimming pool trade by providing residential and commercial engineering plans for renovations and new construction. This business closed down in September 2006.
In July 1991, the California office was consolidated with our International office in Florida, creating one worldwide Headquarters.
In May 1992, the Lectranator Chlorine Machine business was purchased from Olin Corporation (NYSE). Lectranator, in production since 1978, utilizes the principles of electrolytic generation to make liquid chlorine in the pool. The factory was moved in October 1992, from Cleveland, Ohio to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In 2006, production of Pool Pilot® was moved to the St. Petersburg AquaCal® production facility.
In July 1992, the Company purchased the assets of AquaCal, Inc., America’s largest manufacturer of swimming pool/spa heat pumps, located in St. Petersburg, Florida (near Tampa). AquaCal® makes several different brands/designs of heat pumps, utilizing heat energy from either the surrounding air or from a local ground water source. The factory now totals 110,000 square feet. AquaCal® has a large service staff covering the entire State of Florida, and parts of the Northeast, to provide field support for the pool heat pump industry.
In September, 1992, the Company purchased a 63,000 Square Foot (5,853 meters), three (3) building facility with 200 parking places adjacent to the main headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, AutoPilot® is located in one of these buildings. These buildings are painted Orange and Blue, our Team Colors.
In October 1992, AutoPilot® began producing the Sheer Descent Waterfall system under agreement with Bruce Johnson, SCB Manufacturing. This relationship was discontinued in July 1994.
In February 1993, we started selling specially designed computer hardware and software to our Florida customers. This business was discontinued after three years.
In July 1993, AquaCal® expanded into the Air Conditioning industry, acquiring the fixed assets, tooling and production designs for an Air Conditioning Condensing Unit from the Glow Core Corp., Cleveland, Ohio. This product, called Southern Cooler, is used in central air conditioning systems. This product was discontinued in 1997.
In January 1995, the International Swimming Hall Of Fame Mail Order Company was purchased and relocated to the Team Horner® Complex in Ft. Lauderdale. This business was discontinued in September 1996.
In July 1995, Lectranator Company was renamed AutoPilot Systems, Inc.
In September 1995, AquaCal® purchased the 40,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In January 1996, Team Horner formed Kent, Lockwood & Stein, a licensed, bonded, registered and insured Collection Agency/Information Service. This business was renamed KENT, LEVINE, & STEIN in 2006. This business was discontinued in 2009.
During 1996, Bill Kent served as the 40th President of America’s professional trade association for the pool & spa Industry, namely the National Pool and Spa Institute, now called A.P.S.P., representing over 5,000 member firms. During his term as N.S.P.I. President, he initiated the concept of forming a strategic alliance between the professional pool & spa industry and the other segments of the World of Aquatics, namely college and high school coaches, swim schools and competitive Aquatics organizations (i.e. U.S. Swimming, I.S.H.O.F., U.S. Diving, F.I.N.A., etc.).
In April 1996, a new advanced education program for customers who are business owners, called Leadership 2000, was started. The Leadership 2000 program offers outside resource speakers on pertinent business topics, plus an issues session for the discussion of specific business problems. This program was discontinued in 1999.
In November 1996, AquaCal® celebrated 15 years in business with a weekend event attended by over 300 customers. Factory tours, product demonstrations, a sales and marketing seminar presented by Chuck Reeves and a pirate theme dinner party topped off a very successful weekend.
In February 1997, Horner Consulting Engineering formed a strategic partnership with GHA Consulting Engineers to offer more diverse Engineering services to our clients.
In October 1997, Horner Consulting Engineering and Horner Discus moved to a new, 10,000 square foot (929 sq. meters) office facility within the Team Horner® campus. GHA moved into these facilities in March 1998.
In November 1997 Team Horner® made history at the N.S.P.I. National Trade Show in Chicago by entertaining the Convention every two hours with a Dance Troupe (of employees) using the title song from the movie Men in Black as the theme.
In January 1998, AquaCal Europe, S.A.R.L. was formed, with offices and warehouse facilities in Southern France. The office was moved to Paris, France in mid 1999, and closed in December 2001.
In April 1998, AquaCal Australia, Pty., Ltd. was formed with offices and warehouse facilities in Sydney, Australia. AquaCal Australia's business was at first transferred to Hurlcon Pty., Ltd., an Australian Company, in April 2000. In mid-2001, Poolrite Pty. Ltd., another national manufacturer in the Australian Pool Industry, replaced Hurlcon. AquaCal Australia was discontinued in 2007.
In July 1998, a joint venture Company called Lo-Chlor, L.C. was formed here in Florida, to manufacture various specialty pool chemicals, including Lo-Chlor® algaecides and Starver phosphate reducer. Lo-Chlor, L.C., in August 1998, purchased the assets of Miraclear, a water clarifier product. Mr. Andrew Simons from Lo-Chlor Australia was our partner in this Company until he passed away in 2006.
In August 1998, Horner Equipment expanded beyond its traditional lines of pool & spa products to also include ceramic pool tile, coping and other decking and construction materials. Its longtime lines of Pool Finishes, including S.G.M. Diamond Brite, were included in this new department.
In April 1999, AquaCal® acquired the manufacturing rights of Komfort Industries of Ft. Myers, FL. The Krusin Kool portable marine air conditioner was renamed the Krusin Kool. Our Marine products division was sold to a company focused on the marine industry in mid 2001.
In November 1999, AquaCal, Inc. acquired R & D Technologies, an eleven-year-old distribution company, located in Connecticut. Included in the purchase was their brand name, AeroTemp.
Also, in November 1999, AquaCal, Inc. purchased a 16,000 square foot warehouse/office building directly across the street from the current manufacturing/general office facility. The building is being used as a finished goods warehouse and for production of AquaCal’s patented ThermoLink® Titanium Heat Exchanger unit, shipment terminal, production support process & file storage.
2000 - 2009
In September 2000, AquaCal® opened a field sales office in Phoenix, Arizona; in early 2002, a full time field service technician was added.
In November 2000, AquaCal Europe re-opened a field sales office in Paris, France. This office was closed in November 2001.
HornerXpress, Inc. was formed in late 2000 to sell franchises of our wholesale distribution business. The first HornerXpress® franchise opened in February 2001 in West Palm Beach, Florida and continues to operate successfully.
In May 2001, Horner Consulting Engineering became a joint venture Company with half ownership belonging to Mr. John Carroll and Mr. Gerry Cataldo, owners of Twenty First Century Engineering, a well known South Florida company.
In November 2001, AquaCal® purchased a third building (7,500 square feet) increasing the total factory building space to 61,000 square feet (6,100 square meters).
In April 2002, owner Bill Kent celebrated 30 years of service with a party attracting over 500 employees and friends. His theme was “The Best is Yet to Come”.
In August/September 2002, six Company-owned Branches were opened throughout Florida, making our Whole Distribution business truly “State Wide”. Branches were opened in Naples, Manasota, Tampa, Orlando, St. Augustine, and Ft. Pierce. Later, new locations have been added to increase the total to 14 locations. Our three manufactured product lines, AquaCal®, AutoPilot® and Lo-Chlor®, are now exclusively being sold in Florida through these branches, called HornerXpress®.
In December 2002, our original Company in Fort Lauderdale was renamed HornerXpress® South Florida, creating a consistent brand image for our wholesale distribution business..
In December 2002, AquaCal® began manufacturing heat pumps as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for other companies. The first OEM customer was Aquatherm Industries, Inc. Subsequent OEM relationships have included Hayward, Jandy, AquaPro, Pool Calor (Portugal), and many others.
In January 2003, AquaCal® purchased a fully computerized machine for cutting, shaping and bending the internal copper tubing inside its Heat Pumps.
In February 2003, a HornerXpress® branch opened in Nashville, Tennessee. This branch was closed in November 2004.
In September 2003, HornerXpress® Financial Services, a full service mortgage brokerage business, was formed to offer First and Second mortgages to pool buyers via HX customers, here in Florida. In early 2004, HFS expanded to provide mortgage brokerage services in Arizona. Arizona was discontinued in 2005. HornerXpress® Financial Services was closed in 2007 when the mortgage industry evaporated.
In November 2003, Bill Kent became the President & Chairman of the Board of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, with headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. NSPF operates as a non-profit foundation that focuses on health, education and safety issues in the pool and spa industry. Bill was re-elected to this post in November 2004 and 2005 for added terms.
In January 2004, Horner Discus was re-named HornerXpress® Worldwide, Inc.
In January 2004, HornerXpress® Worldwide hired Ms. Barbara Scheuer to open an office in Germany with a focus on AquaCal® & AutoPilot® sales. In mid 2005, we initiated an inventory in Köln to support European sales. In September 2006 the office was closed; later, the Köln warehouse was closed and moved to Lyon, France.
In March 2004, the Engineering partnership with Mr. Carroll and Mr. Cataldo was dissolved; Horner Consulting Engineers became 100% common ownership with the rest of the Team Horner® Companies. Horner Consulting Engineers closed in September 2006.
In August 2004, AquaCal® purchased a 2-acre piece of raw land adjacent to one of its current properties for expansion at a future date.
In October 2004, the first e-college class was held at Keiser University in a joint venture degree program called “Aquatic Engineering Technology”. This joint venture program with Keiser University offers an accredited 2-year “Associates of Science” degree, focused on the technology of the swimming pool and spa Industry. In January, 2006, the first person graduated with this degree. Ms. Connie Sue Centrella was the Professor operating this program; in 2014, Mr. Rick Myers replaced Ms. Centrella. During 2015, it was agreed to phase out this degree program.
In November 2004, in concert with the closing of the Nashville branch, Lo-Chlor® opened a regional sales office in Nashville, with Connie Sue Centrella as the Regional Sales Manager. In early 2005, Connie Sue became “Director of Education” for Team Horner®, discontinuing the Lo-Chlor® assignment.
In May 2005, HornerXpress® purchased a 2 acre site in Jacksonville, Florida, and built a 25,000 sq. ft. building to relocate the HX First Coast branch. This new location opened mid 2007 and now serves as a regional storage facility for some proprietary products.
In October 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit full blast in Fort Lauderdale. All of the roofs at the main campus were replaced as a result. No one was injured.
During 2005, 2 new Vice Presidents were promoted at Team Horner: Don Detwiler & Darren Goldstein.
In late 2005, new distribution centers were opened in Ft. Myers and Largo, Florida.
In January 2006, Lo-Chlor® business partner, Andrew Simons, died in Sydney, Australia. His shares of Lo-Chlor® have been purchased by Bill Kent.
In March 2006, a corporate aircraft, King Air 90B, was purchased with two other partners for business use. The plane was sold in March 2007.
In March 2006, AquaCal® created a bonded warehouse stocking point, under the management of Mr. David Skipper, in Brisbane, Australia. In December 2006, Mrs. Caroline Skipper joined our Australian business. In March 2007, AquaCal Australia was closed. Distribution rights were transferred to Clevaquip, Pty Ltd, a Melbourne based distributor of pool equipment. Nearby New Zealand distributor for AquaCal® was Filtermaster NZ Ltd. Both Clevaquip and Filtermaster were discontinued in 2009. Poolrite Australia replaced both companies. AquaCal® Australia was discontinued in 2007.
In July 2006, AquaCal® and AutoPilot® joined forces to become AquaCal AutoPilot, Inc. AutoPilot® manufacturing and customer service were moved to the St. Petersburg factory under the leadership of Jeff Tawney. AutoPilot® Engineering remains in Fort Lauderdale, FL lead by Lars Hagen.
During 2006 and early 2007, additional HornerXpress® Branches were opened in Ormond Beach, Melbourne, Lakeland, and Ocala, and the branch in Largo was closed.
In October 2007, HornerXpress® Jacksonville moved into their 25,000 sq. ft. building.
In January 2008, AquaCal® introduced a revolutionary new heat pump named "SuperQuiet”. Also, the show area “BackyardXpo” was completed in HornerXpress® South Florida. BackyardXpo features outdoor kitchens, waterfalls, fire pits, new decks and many other non-pool related products for our customers to sell.
In April of 2008, HornerXpress® purchased a 12,000 sq. ft. building that sits on 1.3 acres to relocate the HornerXpress® Gulf Coast Branch. The grand opening was held in June 2008.
During October of 2008, the Ocala and Melbourne branches were closed.
In December 2008, AquaCal® bgan making the Angelfire Heat Pump as an OEM product.
During 2008, the CrystalWorX pool finish brand was introduced.
In September 2009, HornerXpress® St. Petersburg opened at the AquaCal® AutoPilot® factory.
During December of 2009, Lakeland and Oldsmar Branches were closed and a new location in Tampa was opened.
2010 - present
During the spring of 2010, the AutoPilot® "Pool Pilot® Digital Nano" was introduced. Further, AquaCal® began making the “AquaPro” Heat Pump as an OEM in March of 2010.
In October 2010, HornerXpress® Stuart purchased a 7,000 sq. ft. building as a permanent distribution location.
In February 2011, HornerXpress® purchased the assets and North American distribution rights for the Portobello pool tile products line; as such, we are now functioning as a direct importer of tile and have a distributor system beyond HornerXpress® as TileXpressions.
In April 2011, AquaCal® purchased the assets of Lion Pool Products®, a manufacturer of leaf skimmers, telescopic poles, other accessories, and 12 volt transformers. Production began in June 2011 at the St. Petersburg factory.
In May 2011, AquaCal® purchased another adjacent 6,400 sq. ft. building to its main factory complex in St. Petersburg.
In January 2012, Owner Bill Kent began a three year Doctorate degree program at Keiser University with a concentration in International Business.
In February 2012, AquaCal® purchased an additional building adjacent to the building purchased in May, 2011. This building #7 houses injection molding machines for making subassembly parts currently purchased from outside vendors.
In April 2012, AquaCal® purchased large injection molding equipment for use in making subassembly components. Production of components for AquaCal® and AutoPilot® began in early 2013.
In April 2012, Owner Bill Kent celebrated 40 years at Team Horner®.
In May 2012, HornerXpress® Central Florida opened a sub-branch in Kissimmee, Southwest Orlando, to service our Central Florida customers’ base better.
In August 2012, a new Wellness program called “Color Me Healthy" was introduced to all employees. The focus of this program is employee focused education and programming to improve health and wellness. The program is being designed and implemented by an employee committee, rather than management.
In August 2012, Jerry Mason became the Area Manager for the Manasota Region: Cape Coral and Sarasota Branches.
In November 2012, Barkan Hot Yoga, located in Boca Raton was opened. Bill Kent is joint venture partner in this new business.
In December 2012, first production occurred at the Injection Molding Facility at AquaCal®.
In January 2013, Mike Dooley replaced Eric Levine as Vice President in charge of the HornerXpress® branch division. Eric changed roles to provide an ongoing coaching program for the Florida based sales team.
In January 2013, Tom Williams became the Area Manager for the Gulf Coast Region: Fort Myers and Naples Branches.
In April 2013, the Lake Mary Branch was moved to a new location and larger facility in Longwood, Florida.
In April 2013, a new division named StoneHardscapes was formed with partners David & James Bond focused on the importation of various kinds of natural stone. In April 2014, the partnership ended and StoneHardscapes became 100% part of Team Horner®; the business was also relocated to an office and backyard storage facility at the Team headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale.
In May 2013, AquaCal® began producing heat pumps for Jandy, a division of Zodiac, one of the top producers of swimming pool equipment in the world.
In August 2013, HornerXpress® opened a branch in Miami with veteran Rosa Cortes as the Branch Manager.
In August 2013, the St. Petersburg “twig” of HornerXpress® located at the AquaCal® factory was closed to make room for AquaCal® expansion.
In September 2013, the BackyardXpo Sales Team was created under the Leadership of Chris Piercy to focus on sales of hardscape and construction products.
In October 2013, Jerry Fenner became the Area Manager for Central Florida Region: Longwood and Kissimmee Branches.
In November 2013, the Ormond Beach branch of HornerXpress® was moved to larger quarters, more than double its previous size to 10,000 sq. ft. under the leadership of Bryant Ewing.
In March 2014, the StoneHardscapes division was placed under the leadership of Mike Dooley, VP Branches.
In April 2014, Pamela Luciani was appointed General Manager StoneHardscapes.
In June 2014, StoneHardscapes was relocated to the South Florida Corporate Headquarters.
In September 2014, The Sarasota branch was relocated to a new 12,000 sq. ft. facility, twice the size of its previous location. Kelley Kordon became the Branch Manager for the Tampa Branch, Mark Kordon became the manager for the Sarasota Branch, and Jerry Mason became the Area Manager for the West Coast Region: Cape Coral, Sarasota, and Tampa Branches.
In December 2014, J.B. Plastics, a PVC fitting manufacturer, was purchased; the plan was to consolidate this injection molding business at the Aquacal injection molding facility in St. Petersburg during 2015. Consolidation of the manufacturing was completed in July, 2015.
In January 2015, owner Bill Kent announced the plan to convert the company from private ownership to an employee-owned company (ESOP) and that next generation leader Michael Dooley would become President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) in April, 2015.
In January 2015, AquaCal® purchased building #8, a 16,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and office building contiguous with other AquaCal® properties in St. Petersburg.
In February 2015, the J.B. Plastics manufacturing facility, 22,800 sq. ft., located approximately one mile from the Mothership facility in Ft. Lauderdale, was purchased to provide additional storage for StoneHardscapes and HornerXpress®.
In April 2015, Mike Dooley became President and Chief Operating Officer of Team Horner®. Bill Kent assumed the title of Chief Executive Officer.
In April 2015, the company signed an exclusive agreement with Water Works Technologies Group to distribute their new invention, the FireFX LED water bowls, to all markets worldwide.
In June 2015, the 3 acre /13,000 sq. ft. building property immediately behind the Mothership property was purchased; it is currently being leased to Sunbelt Rentals, but provides long-term space expansion capabilities for the Mothership entities.
In June 2015, Bill Kent graduated from Keiser University Graduate School with a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), including a concentration in Global Business.
In June 2015, Lo-Chlor® completed a significant upgrade of its production facilities from an automation perspective, including automatic filling and packaging stations.
In January 2016, the transition from sole ownership by Bill Kent to an employee-owned company (ESOP) was completed. Bill Kent has continued on as Chief Executive Officer.
In February 2016, a HornerXpress® branch opened in Vero Beach, Florida, under the management of Jordan King.
In May 2016, HornerXpress® Worldwide received the President’s “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.
In June 2016, AquaCal AutoPilot, Inc. opened a warehouse on Long Island, NY to offer faster delivery and pickup of all proprietary products to our Northeast customers.