New Summit CEO Goodenough focuses on integration

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Andrew Goodenough, elevated from president to president-CEO of Summit Business Media last week, says he plans to concentrate initially on integrating the various properties the company has acquired over the past two years.

Goodenough, president of Summit since last September, joined the company when it was created in November 2006 by William Reilly and private equity firm Wind Point Partners with the simultaneous acquisitions of Highline Media and Pfingsten Publishing. Goodenough had been president-CEO of Highline prior to the buyout.

Since its formation, Summit has acquired five additional business information companies: Judy Diamond Associates, Wicks Business Information, Agent Media Corp., Advanced Planning Press and, most recently, WiesnerMedia’s financial group of media and marketing properties.

“After making seven acquisitions in 21 months and embarking on the integration of all the companies, we are taking a pause on acquisitions,” Goodenough said, declining to say how long the pause might last. He added, however, that Summit has developed a robust pipeline of acquisition candidates and does plan to continue to grow internally and through acquisition in 2009.

For the remainder of the year, Goodenough said he will focus his team on “rationalizing our resources and honing the positioning of our many products within their markets.”

Goodenough said Summit did not immediately attempt to consolidate its acquired businesses in 2006 and 2007 because senior management wanted to take the time to understand the people, cultures and markets of the separate units before making radical changes. “We gave much care and thought to what we would do to integrate but, once we knew what we wanted, our plan was to execute quickly,” he said.

In April, Goodenough led an internal initiative called “One Summit” that reorganized the company along product types into four divisions—Media (including magazine Web sites), Events, Reference and Data. “Summit’s organizational structure needed to change toward one, unified whole,” he said.

One of the first phases of the integration was the consolidation of shared services under Tom Flynn, CFO and managing director-corporate shared services. The reorganization included the elimination of about 20 redundant positions, fewer than 4% of Summit’s employees.

Between now and October, Summit will be “honing the positioning of our products in the insurance, financial and professional services industries,” Goodenough said.

In the Media division, for example, Summit has amassed numerous properties in the insurance sector. Pfingsten published American Agent & Broker and Life Insurance Selling; Highline had National Underwriter Life/Health, National Underwriter Property/Casualty, Claims and Tech Decisions; Agent Media brought in Agent Sales Journal and Insurance Marketing, and the WiesnerMedia deal added Senior Market Advisor and, an online site for insurance agents. Each of the titles serves the target market—insurance—in a different way, Goodenough explained, and Summit will evaluate the entire portfolio and build plans to maximize opportunities before going to the market with new offerings next year.

Another part of the integration is the rollout this month of a fully integrated accounting package for the company. “We will be able to go into the planning period for 2009 running the same financials for the first time,” Goodenough said.

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