Rumors involving a planned sale of St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Cox Lumber Co. to Atlanta-based home improvement retailer The Home Depot that have been swirling since the International Builders' Show in January came to fruition April 28 when Cox employees received an internal company memo informing them that Cox had been acquired by Suwanee, Ga.-based Williams Bros. Lumber Co., a pro dealer acquired by The Home Depot last June.

Cox, ranked as the 21st-largest pro dealer according to this month's PROSALES 100 Annual Survey of Leading Construction Suppliers, reported 2005 gross sales of $400 million from 28 lumberyards, 11 truss plants, and 15 door-hanging plants across the state of Florida. The company, which reports a pro sales percentage of 88 percent, also operates two locations on Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies as part of a successful Caribbean-region building materials export business.

According to the internal company memo obtained by PROSALES that was sent to Cox employees April 28 from Joe DeAngelo, executive vice president of The Home Depot Supply; Jerry Johnson, president of Williams Bros.; and Juan Quesada, president of Cox Lumber, Cox had signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Williams Bros., a business of The Home Depot Supply. "I can confirm that as of today Cox is officially a division of Williams Bros. Lumber," Cox executive vice president Russel P. Brandes confirmed to ProSales on May 1. Brandes referred all additional questions to Williams Bros. and The Home Depot.

A media release provided to ProSales on May 1 by Home Depot public relations manager Paula Smith indicates The Home Depot feels that the acquisition will significantly increase the size of Williams Bros. and extend its reach into key growth markets in Florida and the Southeast. "Williams Bros.' strong infrastructure and extensive resources combined with Cox Lumber's expertise and experience will provide customers with an unparalleled level of products and services," the release reads. "As part of The Home Depot Supply family, Williams Bros. and Cox Lumber are an important part of The Home Depot's growth in the $410 billion professional supply market."

Indeed, the Cox acquisition adds another large, regional pro dealer to The Home Depot's growing pro business--which also included the Jan. 10 acquisition of Orlando, Fla.-based HVAC and plumbing behemoth Hughes Supply--and adds more fuel to a growing rumor that The Home Depot could be relocating its corporate headquarters to Florida, which the company denies. "Regarding The Home Depot's corporate headquarters," Smith tells PROSALES via e-mail, "as previously stated, we have no plans to relocate from Atlanta."