The Dwyer Group, the Waco-based franchising giant that oversees such service brands as Mr. Rooter and Mr. Electric, has bought a German-based company called Locatec in its effort to increase its presence overseas, especially in Europe and the United Kingdom, company officials said Monday.

Locatec has 60 franchise locations in Germany and Austria, “and we will probably expand its operations into Switzerland,” said Mike Bidwell, president and CEO of The Dwyer Group, who added Locatec is involved in water leak detection in pipes and structures and eventually could make its way to the United States.

Locatec franchisees typically work closely with Rainbow International franchisees who get involved in cleaning up water and disaster damage.

“Right now is a very exciting time for international growth at Dwyer Group,” Bidwell said in a release, adding in a phone interview that the company is “chasing” other foreign-based companies in its pursuit of broadening its footprint and spreading the influence of the Dwyer Group, which was founded in 1981 by the late Don Dwyer and is headquartered at 1010 N. University Parks Drive.

It has undergone ownership changes and now is part of the portfolio of The Riverside Company, a global equity firm.

“While we are always on the lookout for companies whose core business complements those of our family of brands, we do not take acquisitions lightly,” Bidwell said. “Locatec aligns with our business model and values and is ripe for growth, especially now as part of the Dwyer Group family of brands.”

He said potential Locatec franchisees will pay 25,000 euros, or $28,750, to secure a license from the Dwyer Group, and should have 65,000 euros in investment capital available.

Locatec franchisees and their employees typically need 90 days to learn the process of finding and repairing water leaks in lines and structures, Bidwell said, adding they need to accompany other franchisees performing these tasks before being approved to proceed with operations.

Locatec has 120 service vehicles operated by franchisees now crisscrossing Germany and Austria, with more to be put in service as Locatec expands.

The Dwyer Group has sanctioned 2,600 franchised locations around the world, with about 2,300 operating in the United States and Canada.

It serves as the holding company for a dozen brands: Aire Serve; Glass Doctor; The Grounds Guys; Five Star Painters; Molly Maid; Mr. Appliance; Mr. Electric; Mr. Handyman; Mr. Rooter, which does business as Drain Doctor in the United Kingdom and Portugal; ProTect Painters; Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning; and now Locatec.

Under the direction of Hartwig Finger, president of European operations at the Dwyer Group, “the company plans to operate Locatec in a way that will permit German franchisees to accelerate their growth, improve market penetration and allow Locatec to expand into other countries,” the Dwyer Group announced in its release.

Bidwell said the Dwyer Group pinpoints companies it may have interest in acquiring through local managers, trade shows and online advertising.

“We also receive referrals from those familiar with the franchising arena and our areas of emphasis,” Bidwell said.

Franchisees from across the United States and Canada travel to the Waco headquarters on University Parks Drive for training, while the company attempts to create training facilities closer to home for those who operate overseas.

The Dwyer Group in 2001 expanded its local presence by acquiring 10,000 square feet of office space at 524 W. Waco Drive. It renovated the space for use by the accounting department, among others, and named it “The Outpost.”

In February, the Dwyer Group announced that Lisa Zoellner would fill the newly created position of chief strategy and marketing officer.

“Lisa joins us at an historic time as marketing continues to evolve into one of the most complex and dynamic functions at Dwyer Group,” Bidwell said. “The strategy and direction for multiple service brands is immense. And the expertise Lisa brings to our team, after championing some of the most recognized international brands in consumer and retailing and franchise marketing, will be a tremendous asset as our organization moves forward.”

Zoellner most recently served as the chief marketing officer of Golfsmith International, the world’s largest specialty golf retailer. Prior to that, she was the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Gold’s Gym International, with more than 700 locations in 42 states and countries.

She began her career at Blockbuster Entertainment, where she served more than 16 years in various marketing, merchandise and operations positions.

The Dwyer Group in 2015 had nine of its 12 franchises ranked in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list.

Published annually in the January issue of the periodical, the list ranks franchise concepts based on emerging trends and industries headed for growth in the coming year.

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