August 10, 2023 – ZRG, a global talent advisory firm and portfolio company of RFE Investment Partners, has acquired The Registry, a Peabody, MA-based interim executive solutions firm specializing in higher education. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. “The Registry is the nation’s top firm providing the best-matched interim solutions to institutions of higher learning, especially colleges and universities that are going through challenging transitions,” said Larry Hartmann, CEO of ZRG. “Adding The Registry to the family of ZRG companies puts us in a leadership position in providing talent solutions in higher education.”
“This acquisition is a huge win for ZRG,” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Hunt Scanlon Ventures based in Greenwich, Conn., which helped facilitate the transaction and served as a strategic advisor to ZRG and The Registry. “It complements a fast-growing interim solutions platform that ZRG has been strategically building, but it also enhances one of ZRG’s key executive search verticals in higher education.” Mr. Scanlon said the acquisition is ZRG’s largest to date.
“Calls for interim leaders are gaining wider traction as demographics shift and talent needs change,” said Mr. Scanlon. “The most sought after ‘on-demand’ roles are increasingly found across the C-suite – and now in every industry – and that makes interim solutions one of the biggest growth areas of recruiting,” he said.
“The Registry is known across all of higher education as the gold standard interim talent solution and the firm’s second generation founders leave behind a legacy of unparalleled client service,” said Mr. Scanlon, who has known the firm’s management team for more than a decade. “George Matthews and Dr. Bryan Carlson built a unique platform that disrupted how interim roles are filled through a fully vetted, membership-based network. That legacy is what ZRG now inherits and we believe it will give Larry Hartmann and his team an unprecedented opportunity for growth,” he added.
Since 1992, The Registry has helped colleges and universities across the U.S. and abroad during times of transition with experienced and diverse interim leaders. The firm has recorded 1,200 placements at over 500 institutions of all types. “The Registry has placed more senior interim leaders on campuses across the nation than any other organization during the past three decades,” Mr. Hartmann said. “The firm initiated and accelerated a new trend in American higher education: the utilization of outside interim presidents.”
In 2002, Dr. Carlson and Mr. Matthews founded Collegiate Enterprise Solutions (CES) LLC, at which time they acquired The Registry for College and University Presidents. Since that time, Dr. Carlson has served as president of The Registry. Under the leadership of Dr. Carlson and Mr. Matthews as chancellor, The Registry has experienced sustained growth and expansion. Today, with a membership of 1,000-plus, The Registry continues to be a top firm in the interim executive space in higher education.
“Joining ZRG will make it possible for The Registry to sustain its dramatic expansion and its dominance of the interim space in American higher education,” said Dr. Carlson. “In addition, The Registry has the potential to become a catalyst for the elevation of the ZRG brand throughout the nation and across the globe.”
“The Registry is a membership organization; our members are pre-screened, veteran executives who are immediately available to be matched to the needs and requirements of our college and university clients,” said Mr. Matthews.
Prior to The Registry acquisition, ZRG has greatly diversified its talent management offerings in the past two years. In June, ZRG acquired Helbling, a national executive search firm with relationships among construction contractors and real estate developers. Last December, the firm acquired Hub Recruiting, a boutique recruiting process outsourcing (RPO) firm. In November, ZRG purchased SEBA International, a retained executive search firm focused on finance, risk, marketing, and revenue roles. In April of last year, the firm acquired RoseRyan, a Silicon Valley-based provider of finance and accounting consulting solutions. Also that month, ZRG added Terra Search Partners, a retained executive search firm exclusive to the real estate industry.
Related: ZRG Acquires Walking the Talk
ZRG, founded in 1999, is a mid-sized global executive search firm and one of the fastest growing in the search industry. It provides a full suite of executive, middle management, and customized search solutions through its offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. The firm finds leaders across a broad spectrum of business markets, including aerospace, consumer, education, healthcare services, and solutions, industrial, life sciences, non-profit, private equity and venture capital, and technology. ZRG is based in Rochelle Park, NJ.
Secondary Equity Investment
At the end of last year, ZRG secured a new secondary equity investment from a consortium of new and existing institutional investors led by Timber Bay Partners. “We see tremendous opportunity to acquire great businesses in the recruiting and talent advisory areas that will augment our organic growth across all of our business lines,” said Mr. Hartmann. “The new equity capital and expanded credit facility provide ample dry powder for our organic and acquisition growth plans. Additionally, we will continue to invest in our disruptive Zi technology platform and grow our interim and consulting businesses in tandem with our core executive recruiting deliverables.”
Calls for interim leaders are gaining wider traction as demographics shift and talent needs change. The most sought after ‘on-demand’ roles are increasingly found across the C-suite – from CEOs and CHROs to CFOs, controllers, and chief transformation officers. The next war for talent may very well be found here.
We checked in with search firm founder Tim Tolan who just launched a new interim platform to angle in on the action. He sees unlimited possibilities ahead along with big investment potential.
This new capital will accelerate ZRG’s acquisition and hiring efforts as the company continues to build out a full suite of offerings to help clients solve people problems. The new equity round included increased support from existing investors as well as a number of new institutions. RFE will manage the new equity consortium and will maintain a control equity position.
Concurrent with the new equity investment in the company, ZRG also announced the closing of a new and expanded senior credit facility led by Truist Bank. Proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt and provide additional capital for future growth.
“ZRG has an exceptional track record of supporting and growing acquired companies that have all thrived under ZRG’s resources and unique culture,” said Michael Rubel, managing director at RFE. “This new capital accelerates our strategy of partnering with great new human capital people and brands.”
Atlantic-Pacific Capital served as exclusive global financial advisor and placement agent. Truist Bank served as the sole lead arranger for the new credit facility. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.
Related: ZRG Acquires Turnkey Search
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media