Autism Learning Partners
Sector: Health Care Services
Description: Autism Services
Investment Date: 2010
Status: Acquired by a Financial Sponsor in 2017
Headquarters: Glendale, CA
Autism Learning Partners (“ALP”) was founded in 1988 to provide Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”) services to children, predominantly in California, with autism and other related disorders. The Company used a broad spectrum of ABA techniques, employing empirically validated approaches as needed by the autistic child. ALP’s curriculum included development skills required for success in all facets of life. However, the founder wanted to accelerate the growth of the business without the need for additional personal guarantees on bank debt, and also wanted a partner who would provide him with partial liquidity of his ownership.
At the time that Great Point identified ALP, the Company had become one of three leading providers of ABA services on the West Coast and wanted to expand its coverage to become the leading provider across the US, specifically focusing on states with implemented or pending insurance coverage. ALP had historically grown organically and wanted to work with Great Point Partners to execute strategic tuck-in acquisitions that would broaden their service offering, accelerate growth and also provide partial liquidity to the founder.
How Great Point Partners Helped
Great Point Partners had a tuck-in pipeline of seventeen strategic tuck-in acquisitions for ALP at the time of the recapitalization in 2010. Over the course of Great Point’s eight-year investment, ALP completed six tuck-in acquisitions that diversified the business geographically, expanding its operational footprint from three to over thirty states, and increasing ALP’s services to include speech, occupational and physical therapy.
Importantly, Great Point worked diligently to help ALP navigate the California budget crisis. During this time, the Company suffered slowing referrals, reduced hours per case and reimbursement rate cuts from the State of California, its largest customer. Slower than normal payments for services by the state increased receivables and required significant additional investment to fund working capital. In addition to investing more capital, working with lenders and leading numerous refinancings, Great Point recruited a seasoned CEO and CFO to help the Company manage through those challenges.
As a result of Great Point’s hard work with the Company and management team, ALP was ultimately able to increase its revenue by 30% annually and grow from three state to thirty-two state (10 fold increase) and approximately 300 therapists to 1,800 therapists (six fold increase) during the eight-year partnership with Great Point. Great Point sourced four of the six accretive tuck-ins and ultimately helped the business become the largest ABA provider in the country.