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MISSOURI PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF SERVICE BUSINESS

 MISSOURI PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF SERVICE BUSINESS
 /ADVANCE/ KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Missouri Public Service (MPS), a division of UtiliCorp United (NYSE: UCU), has acquired A-abc Appliance and Heating Inc., a major appliance, heating and air conditioning service company based in Lenexa, Kan. The purchase marks the utility's entrance into the home appliance repair and service business. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, however company officials note that the purchase price is borne by shareholders, not utility rate payers.
 The newly formed company, called Service Today, will offer on-demand appliance repair service immediately for the entire metropolitan Kansas City area. Consumers who need heating, cooling or major appliance service now can call 800-486-2501. Beginning Nov. 1, Service Today also plans to offer unique, affordable appliance repair contracts to consumers in the metropolitan Kansas City area. Similar operations will be started in other Missouri Public Service markets after the service has been established in metropolitan Kansas City.
 Robert K. Green, president of Missouri Public Service, said the acquisition is in line with the company's strategic objectives for growth. "This new business will provide an important new service to our valued customers," he said. "It is a logical extension of our core business and allows MPS to better understand and serve its customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace."
 According to Alan Caron, senior vice president of MPS, Service Today will provide inspection, full-service repair and sales of major home appliances, including home heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, refrigerators, ranges, dryers, trash compactors and all other major appliances. "Because we serve a substantial segment of the metropolitan consumer market as a home energy provider, we are always sensitive to the needs of our customers," he said. "We believe that Missouri Public Service's reputation for quality and service will be an important factor in building a customer base for this new service."
 What is unique, according to Caron, is that service will be available to consumers whether they are Missouri Public Service customers or not. "Our goal is to be the value and service leader for home appliances in the entire metropolitan area," he said. Caron will become president of Service Today.
 Steven Anderson, vice president of marketing and administration for Service Today, said that A-abc has a large and loyal existing customer base throughout the metropolitan area on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line. "A-abc is known and depended upon by thousands to provide prompt, thorough and reliable service to its customers. That's why MPS was attracted to this company and feels the combination will provide unparalleled service and convenience to all customers," he said.
 A-abc began operation in Kansas City in 1979. It now operates branch offices in Hartford, Conn., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as in Kansas City. A-abc president Elie Balas, who will serve as senior vice president, operations, for the new company, believes the marriage of his service and repair business and Missouri Public Service is good for consumers. "Our customers, whether they are Missouri Public Service customers or not, know that this utility has a reputation for quality. It makes sense that when you want a major appliance repaired or serviced, you would call upon a company that has the most technically proficient staff and the most reliable equipment," he said. Additionally, he said MPS will be able to apply management experience in routing, billing, customer service and training. Upon its initial introduction, billing for service contracts for MPS customers will appear on customers' monthly utility invoices and non-MPS customers will receive special bills.
 Anderson said the name Service Today was chosen for the company after a careful market study to determine a name, as well as to refine and further define its services to consumers. "We are continually in the process of examining all aspects of our service. We believe we have built our business the way the customer wants it," he said. "Service Today reflects what consumers desire: today's modern technology, combined with excellent service, reliability, safety and convenience." A company logo, employee uniforms and truck design are being addressed, he added.
 Two Service Contracts Available
 According to Anderson, the company will follow up its available on- demand service business with an offer of two types of service contracts. "We've structured the initial Service Today contracts to offer real value and service to customers. People automatically calculate what the annual cost of a service contract is and compare it to what it might cost them for a service call or two," he said. "We believe we've come up with the right pricing structure for the most often needed service requirements."
 Service Today's Basic service will include repair of the furnace, water heater, range, dryer and gas grill, he said. The cost will be $8.95 per month. A more comprehensive service contract offers additional coverage of the air conditioner and other major appliances. Cost will be $12.95 per month. Contract customers will receive priority service, 24-hour emergency service, and preferred pricing of 50 percent off on pre-season inspections.
 Anderson said that Missouri Public Service customers will be cautioned and reminded that the new service company is not a repair service for utility line problems. "The utility has in place emergency strategies and a special number for these kinds of energy delivery problems. MPS is very dedicated to customer safety," he said. Service Today will dedicate that same quality to its appliance servicing and repair. "We've established the 800-486-2501 number so that consumers can call for service and also receive details about the plans available, dates when plans are to be available in their areas, and to answer any questions they might have about contract or demand service."
 After the program is established in the Kansas City metropolitan area, the company plans to offer similar services in other MPS markets and eventually to other cities where A-abc operates. Anderson said that service should be available in markets such as Warrensburg and Sedalia in Missouri in 1993. "We'll bring the service eventually to all of the MPS markets, again offering the demand and contract products to utility customers and non-customers," he said.
 Kansas City-based Missouri Public Service has served Western Missouri for three quarters of a century. The utility now delivers electricity to 171,000 homes, businesses and industries and natural gas to about 40,000 customers in 222 communities ranging from small rural towns to large urban population centers.
 Missouri Public Service is a division of UtiliCorp United, a company formed in 1985 from Missouri Public Service. UtiliCorp has assets totaling more than $2.4 billion and serves more than one million customers through regulated utilities in the United States and Canada. UtiliCorp also owns non-regulated companies that develop new opportunities in independent power production as well as marketing, production, processing and shipment of natural gas. Shares are traded on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges.
 -0- 9/11/92/0900
 /CONTACT: Mary Amundsen of Missouri Public Service, 816-737-7442; or Steve Anderson of Service Today, 816-737-7425, for Missouri Public Service/
 (UCU) CO: Missouri Public Service; UtiliCorp United; A-abc Appliance and
 Heating Inc. ST: Missouri IN: TLS SU: TNM


MC -- DV010 -- 8252 09/10/92 17:36 EDT
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