WESCO Distribution, Inc., made another acquisition that takes it outside the traditional scope of an electrical distributor. The Pittsburgh, Pa.-based distributor chain acquired WR Control Panels, Inc., Columbus, Ohio, in a move to provide a more comprehensive menu of services to national accounts customers, particularly in the retail and chain restaurant market.

WESCO declined to give financial details of the transaction. WR Control Panels makes and sells integrated systems that combine control of lighting and electrical distribution with environmental controls in a single package. The company specializes in the "multi-site commercial market"-primarily retail chain stores and restaurants. WR Control Panels has operations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the U.K.

The company's experience serving national retail chains will boost WESCO's prospects in a high-growth market segment, says Roy Haley, president and chief executive of WESCO. "The opportunity to service multi-site customers is an extension of our national-accounts initiative," Haley says.

The systems WR Control Panels sells are marketed under the name Integrated Facilities Systems (IFS). They are made from Cutler-Hammer/Westinghouse systems and components, including panelboards, metering, lighting controls, surge protection and electrical distribution equipment. Using those components, WR Control Panels does custom designs, wiring and integration of the control system, putting the "tailored control solutions" into a standard enclosure. The IFS system is delivered as a package to the customer, ready to install. WR Control Panels also provides ongoing hardware maintenance and monitoring services.

The relationship with Pittsburgh-based Cutler-Hammer was an important consideration in WESCO's decision to buy WR Control Panels, Haley says. "This will strengthen our alliance with Cutler-Hammer," he stated. The WR Control Panels operations will be integrated into WESCO's national accounts program, and will report to Jim Piraino, WESCO's vice president of marketing, as a separate division. The company's services will continue to be marketed under the WR Control Panels name.