Done Deals – Thayer Scoops Up Staffing Company –

Notching its largest equity commitment ever, Thayer Capital Partners last month closed a $276 million acquisition and recapitalization of Career Blazers, a provider of staffing, training and technology services.

The firm committed $85 million to the deal, while senior management put in $6 million, and Bankers Trust Co., a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, provided debt financing. Rick Rickertsen, chief operating officer at Thayer, said the firm’s interest in the company is based on three things: its scale, diversity and technology business.

As for its scale, Rickertsen said, Career Blazers is the second largest private temporary general staffing business in the country. Also, he said Thayer was drawn to its diverse group of businesses, which range from truck driving schools to computer training. And thirdly, the company’s technical consulting business, Raymond James Consulting, has seen 25% growth each of the five years since it was established.

Career Blazers had 1999 revenue of approximately $450 million, with the consulting business accounting for $60 million of the revenue, a figure Rickertsen said has potential to be much higher.

Career Blazers has been family-owned for almost 50 years, he added, and additional capital will help the company do things it was unable to do before, such as making more acquisitions.

Thayer will concentrate on acquiring businesses that will supplement the training services, but currently is looking at several follow-up acquisitions for the consulting business that will come into the picture in the next few weeks, Rickertsen said.

Before the $85 million commitment to Career Blazers, Thayer’s largest equity stake was $75 million in Darby Bicycle Co. last year.

At least one other firm making investments in the non-health-care staffing sector is Parthenon Capital, which sponsored a recapitalization of Creditek, a Parsippany, N.J.-based company that provides personnel to accounts receivable departments, last July.

In other related deals, GTCR Golder Rauner last year made a $100 million equity commitment to Frontline, a company that provides corporate training services.