KinderCare Learning Centers
|Industry||Early Childhood Education|
|Founded||July 14, 1969
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
|Headquarters||Portland, Oregon, U.S.|
Number of locations
|1,700 locations (2014)|
|Tom Wyatt, CEO of Knowledge Universe
Dr. Elanna Yalow, CEO Early Learning Programs
Number of employees
|Parent||KinderCare Education, LLC|
KinderCare Learning Centers is an American operator of for-profit child care and early childhood education  facilities founded in 1969 and currently owned by KinderCare Education. The company provides educational programs for children from six weeks to 12 years old. Some 200,000 children are enrolled in more than 1,600 early childhood education community centers, over 600 before-and-after school programs, and over 100 employer-sponsored centers in 39 states and the District of Columbia. KinderCare Education employs approximately 30,000 people in the United States; its headquarters are in Portland, Oregon.
Perry Mendel, a real estate developer, founded KinderCare after speculating that increasing numbers of women entering the work force would increase demand for preschool child care. The company began as Kinder-Care Nursery Schools, and the first facility was opened on July 14, 1969 accommodating 70 children
The idea behind the firm was to provide child care in bulk using economies of scale. Other companies such as La Petite Academy has the same idea, but Kinder-Care executed the concept most aggressively.
A second facility was opened in 1970, and the company changed its name to Kinder-Care Learning Centers, Inc. n. By 1971, 19 centers were in operation and the first infant care was offered.
The firm went public in 1972 and established a new corporate headquarters in Montgomery. To help with marketing, Mendel employed Richard Grassgreen, an IRS attorney and tax expert. He would later become CEO.
By 1974 the company had 60 centers located in 17 states and over 500 employees nationwide. The company's first major acquisition came in 1977, when it purchased the 15 facilities of Playcare. In 1979, it acquired Mini-Skools, Living and Learning, and American Pre-Schools. In 1985, the company opened its 1,000th center.
In 1987, it was reported annual revenues of $900 million, and analysts were remarking on the company's rapid growth, observing that stock had soared from 12 cents a share to $20 at its high in mid-1987. During this time, Kinder-Care was expanding at the rate of one new center every three days.
In 1987, Kinder-Care acquired Sylvan Learning Centers, a provider of supplemental instruction to children and adults, and the largest franchiser of its kind.
Diversification and bankruptcy
Chief Executive Grassgreen led the company on an ill-conceived diversification plan in the late 1980s. The idea was suggested by Michael Milken, an investor from the firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert. In the 1980s, Kinder-Care acquired a wide variety of companies such as American Savings for $188 million. They also purchased photo studios, shoe stores and even invested in a foreign fertilizer manufacturer. As a result, the company's debt load increased from $10 million to about $620 million in 1988. The company found itself in deep financial trouble after the stock market crash in October 1987.
According to a 1988 Forbes article, less than half of Kinder-Care's sales and profits for the year were expected to come from its child care centers. A new company, the Enstar Group Inc., was formed as a holding company during this time for Kinder-Care and the other companies now associated with it.
Caught in a cash squeeze in January, 1991, Kinder-Care stopped paying interest on its debt. During this period, Tull Gearreald, an investment banker, took command of the company as president and CEO. He promptly declared the company would remain focused on the original mission of caring for children. Still faltering under its high debt load, KinderCare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 10, 1992.
The company continued operating, and in January 1993, in a move that helped their balance sheet, KinderCare sold off Sylvan Learning Centers for $8 million.
In 1992, the company updated its bell tower logo and removed the hyphen in the spelling of Kinder-Care.
KinderCare was acquired in 2005 by the Knowledge Learning Corporation (KLC) division of Michael Milken's privately held education services firm, Knowledge Universe. The deal, valued at over US$1 billion, made KLC the nation’s largest private child care and education provider.
In terms of size, KinderCare is the third-largest privately held company headquartered in Oregon, and the company's executive leadership operates out of Portland. In 2012, company revenues were about $1.45 billion, down from approximately $1.6 billion in 2010.
KinderCare Education, the parent company, also operates Knowledge Beginnings, Children’s Creative Learning Centers (CCLC), and Champions.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other associations have accredited over 700 KLC centers.[better source needed]
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