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New firm dials into direct marketing

Although “direct marketing” conjures up images of dinnertime interruptions and mailboxes stuffed with junk, the general unpopularity of the industry does not equate with unprofitability. That is why a new private equity firm has launched with a focus on the direct marketing space.

The firm is named Entrepreneur Partners and the founders expect to begin institutional fund-raising sometime in 2007. The firm has an initial $15 million with which to establish a track record.

The firm is currently evaluating two opportunities, including one control buyout of a $5 million EBITDA company and a larger transaction in which Entrepreneur Partners is working with a sponsor.

The firm was co-founded by Salem Shuchman and Bruce Newman.

Shuchman is a former senior partner with Apax Partners, who left last spring after having worked on such deals as Yell Group and NEP Broadcasting.

Newman most recently served as an operating partner with Graham Partners, and previously served as president of the Franklin Mint and Paramount Citrus via his management of the Resnick family investment office.

Shuchman says that he left Apax because he was itching to launch his own firm, and because he felt that direct marketing had been neglected from a lower middle-market perspective.

“I view direct marketing as an industry, not a channel,” says Shuchman from the firm’s Philadelphia headquarters. “I define it as things like catalogs and specialty B2B publishers – any place where there is a direct connection between companies and their customers, with a lot of qualitative data around that relationship.”

In addition to Shuchman and Newman, the firm currently features associate Barry Smith (formerly with Ernst & Young) and Director of Investor Relations Christine Wojdyla (formerly with PEW Charitable Trust).

The firm’s network of operating partners includes Robert Evanson, former CEO of McGraw Hill Education and a former senior advisor to Apax; Dick Fisk, former president of direct marketing with Brady Corp.; Gil Kemp, CEO and co-founder of Home Decorators Collection; Greg Larson, CEO of The Wisconsin Cheeseman; Tom Ligouri, CEO of National Pen; and Steve Wexler, former CEO of Medical Arts Press.