|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2008
Prospect Partners and Management Recapitalize Leading Provider of Organizational Development and Leadership Training Services
Linkage, Inc. to Focus on Expanding Offering and Customer Base
CHICAGO, Ill.—July 14, 2008: Lower-middle-market private equity firm Prospect Partners, LLC has announced the formation of Linkage Holdings Corp. to invest in Linkage, Inc., a Burlington, Mass.-based global provider of organizational and leadership development and training programs, services and products for executives and senior managers. The transaction, a recapitalization in partnership with Linkage's executive management team, represents Prospect Partners' third investment in the education and training sector.
Founded in 1988 by Chief Executive Officer Phil Harkins, Linkage has become a leading provider of human capital development training services, offering a broad line of resources that help organizations and their employees become more efficient, effective and productive in addressing a variety of leadership, human resources and organizational challenges.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Linkage," says Maneesh Chawla, a Principal at Prospect Partners. "Linkage is a very interesting and well-regarded niche-market leader that has developed a distinctive and superior set of human resources and leadership development training and consulting services. Its management is exceptional. Not only has Phil Harkins emerged as one of the industry's thought leaders, but Linkage is in a great position to expand upon its already impressive base of services, events and customers."
Linkage's offerings include coaching, in-house event and public training, assessment tools, proprietary conferences, executive forums, research publications and e-learning programs on leading-edge topics. Its flagship event, The Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD), an innovative weeklong high-potential leadership development training program, was named the best of its kind by Leadership Excellence magazine for two consecutive years. The company also offers a portfolio of training courseware and publications, including The Wall Street Journal's best-selling book: Everybody Wins: The Story and Lessons Behind RE/MAX. Linkage serves a diverse customer base of Fortune 1000 businesses, non-profit organizations, government entities, educational institutions and international organizations.
For Linkage, the recapitalization provides financial resources and strategic guidance at a critical time. "We see a lot of additional opportunities for this business," says Mr. Harkins. "We looked for an experienced partner that could be a strong catalyst for growth and provide clear perspective and a steady hand as our outside directors. Prospect Partners stood out in our search process, and our extensive conversations with its references confirmed what we thought."
Going forward, Prospect Partners and management will seek to grow Linkage organically as well as through select acquisitions of providers of leadership development and training services on human resources and organizational development topics.
In addition to Mr. Harkins, Linkage's backing management shareholder group includes Todd Langton, President; David Giber, Regional Vice President-Northeast; Harley Ostis, Regional Vice President-Southeast; Andrew Goodman, Executive Vice President, Talent Management; Richard Pumfrey, Executive Vice President, CAO and CFO; and Rich Rosier, Vice President.
Serving Linkage's Board of Directors from Prospect Partners are Mr. Chawla as Chairman and Principal Louis Kenter as a Director.
Prospect Partners is an experienced investor in the education and training sector. Its related investments include current platform company Education Futures Group, LLC, an operator of smaller accredited post-secondary schools in secondary markets in the United States, as well as a previous holding, Education Corporation of America (ECA), an operator of post-secondary schools with training programs in a variety of technical areas that Prospect Partners recapitalized with management and another private equity firm in 2004.
Linkage Holdings Corp. is the 13th platform company of Prospect Partners' second fund, the $165 million Prospect Partners II, L.P. Other platform companies in Prospect Partners II, L.P. include Codel Holding Company; Delta Industrial Services, LLC; Education Futures Group, LLC; ESI Lighting, Inc.; Gold Star Food Service, Inc.; Kronos Foods, Inc.; Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Holding Company; Presidential Pools and Spas, LLC; Spirit Foodservice Products, Inc.; Summit Fire Protection Co.; Superior Tool Holding Company; and Velvac Holdings, Inc.
About Prospect Partners, LLC
Prospect Partners, of Chicago, Illinois, is a leading lower-middle-market private equity firm managing $270 million in two funds. A highly experienced, active and committed smaller-company investor, Prospect Partners focuses exclusively on management-led leveraged acquisitions of niche market leaders with revenues typically between $10 million and $50 million. Since its inception in 1998, Prospect Partners has invested nationwide in approximately 70 leading companies across a broad range of niche markets, including consumer, commercial, manufacturing, distribution and consumer and business services.