Early Autism Project (“EAP”) is a leading provider of home (primarily) and clinic-based ABA therapy to children on the autism spectrum. EAP was founded by a clinician (BCBA), and her business partner. EAP is the largest ABA therapy provider in South Carolina, and one of the largest in the Southeastern U.S. At the time of the transaction, the Company employed over 450 behavioral therapists, providing services to approximately 700 clients annually (about 550 at any one time), and delivering nearly 400,000 in billable hours of treatment annually.
Brookwood advised EAP in its sale to Educational Services of America (“ESA”), now known as ChanceLight Behavioral Health, Therapy & Education, which is one of the largest school-based providers of alternative and specialized K-12 educational programs throughout the U.S. ESA sought to add a true healthcare services provider business to its capabilities, including leveraging its large geographic presence serving children with special needs in schools.
Client Objective – In reviewing alternatives, EAP’s shareholders and senior leadership considered private equity investment, strategic acquirors, and some ‘hybrids’ including companies such as ChanceLight which are PE owned. In addition to securing a compelling valuation, the owners wanted financing and expertise/resources to: 1) expand de novo to regions outside of SC and GA; 2) open more site-based care (had one clinic on line and one opening at closing); 3) initiate and close acquisitions; and 4) expand EAP’s administrative / support operations, including IT, billing, and other critical areas. The shareholders also wanted to remain in leadership positions for the foreseeable future.
Excellent Outcome – The transaction closed on LOI terms at an attractive valuation and structure, partnered EAP with an experienced acquirer focused on driving the company’s continued growth, and aligned with EAP shareholder objectives. EAP shareholders maintained significant management roles in the combined company and all of EAP’s senior staff had the opportunity to remain and continue growing the autism therapy business on a stronger platform. Four add-on acquisitions have been completed by the new company. These acquisitions and de novo expansion / recruitment have increased EAP’s footprint to KY, PA, FL, CO and WA. Parent company has also invested significantly in the management infrastructure.