Westburne to buy Colotex Electric Supply.

Westburne, Inc., the Montreal-based electrical, industrial and plumbing distribution giant, has purchased its second distributor in Colorado, Colotex Electric Supply, with eight locations in the state.

Westburne said it bought Loveland, Colo.-based Colotex because of its size, its profitability and because of its location near Blazer Electric Supply Co., Colorado Springs, Colo., which Westburne agreed to buy in July. Colotex has about 60 employees and annual sales of $28 million. Colotex's management and staff will continue under Westburne's ownership.

The acquisition of Colotex Electric Supply, coupled with the acquisition of Blazer Electric Supply, gives Westburne 12 locations in Colorado, and will make the company the primary electrical distributor in the state with 12 branches, according to Westburne. The transaction to buy Colotex was expected to close on Oct. 31. Terms of the agreement were not announced.

Rockwell to pursue new e-commerce initiative.

SourceAlliance.com, a new company established by Rockwell Automation, will allow Allen-Bradley distributors to offer customers a nationwide, centralized electronic-procurement system backed by local distributor support. SourceAlliance.com will offer customers a way to purchase a broad assortment of electrical products from a variety of manufacturers. The service is planned for an early-2000 launch.

Details of how products and information will flow to customers through SourceAlliance.com are still under development and won't be finalized until after further talks with Allen-Bradley distributors and their customers and business system providers, said Greg Scheu, acting president of SourceAlliance.com.

Most distributor owners and top managers got their first look at the new Internet-based company in September.

Scheu emphasized that once SourceAlliance.com is off the ground it will be a separate company from Rockwell Automation with no shared resources. Allen-Bradley distributors would form new, separate and voluntary relationships with SourceAlliance.com to pursue this new on-line initiative.

The premise for SourceAlliance.com is that more customers are looking for sourcing contracts through which to consolidate purchasing power with suppliers that can serve their needs at multiple plant sites, said Scheu.

The company's belief is that the Internet and EDI will play an important role in connecting those customers with their suppliers and interconnecting distributors that fulfill those contracts. Beyond those contracts, Scheu hopes to position SourceAlliance.com to develop product offerings in other Internet-based services as well, such as cataloging and on-line shopping malls.

Some industry observers were concerned about whether Allen-Bradley distributors who were also members of other industry groups offering similar national account programs could support both initiatives simultaneously.

Sonepoar to buy MarLe

North East Electrical Distributors (NEED), a division of Sonepar Distribution US, Inc., has agreed to buy MarLe Co., Stamford, Conn. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

MarLe, with 40 employees and about $13 million in annual sales, will continue to be operated by Jonathon Levine, the company's president.

The acquisition of MarLe gives NEED a presence in the Stamford area, according to Justin Cirrone, NEED's president. "We have a store in New London, Conn., and we needed to have a strategic location in that market." NEED said it's also buying MarLe because of its strong reputation in the Connecticut market.

NEED's acquisition, which is expected to be completed this month, moves Sonepar Distribution US closer to its goal of capturing $300 million worth of New England's annual electrical-product sales within the next few years.