SkillPath, a division of Graceland University, said Tuesday that it has acquired National Seminars Training from Rockhurst University.
The terms of the sale were not disclosed.
SkillPath, a $53 million company with 165 employees, sought out National Seminars, a $35 million company with 96 employees, according to SkillPath chief executive Jack Cave.
“We’ve been interested in them for many years,” Cave said. “By owning your competitor, you don’t have to compete against them anymore.”
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The Rev. Thomas Curran, president of Rockhurst University, said the school was “delighted to see the National management team and employees join with SkillPath to form what we see as a very good business opportunity for everyone.”
The remaining big player in the national business seminar industry is Fred Pryor Seminars, based in Mission, as SkillPath and National are.
Founder Fred Pryor essentially created the seminar industry in 1970. National spun out of Fred Pryor in 1984, and SkillPath spun out of National in 1989.
Cave said the combination of SkillPath and National will expand their portfolio of seminars, melding the specialties of both. They offer a range of management, leadership, computer, time management and other “soft skills” training.
The acquisition will involve some reduction in staff, Cave said, but details still are being worked out. SkillPath owns its building at 6900 Squibb Road and ultimately will house National’s operations as well. National leases its location in a nearby building in Mission.
SkillPath intends to keep using the National brand name, Cave said, “which has 30 years of equity.”
SkillPath became a part of Graceland University’s continuing education division in 1995. Rockhurst acquired National in 1991. Fred Pryor Seminars was sold to Park University in 2002.
Each move reflected an economic reality: By becoming part of universities, the training companies were able to obtain substantial postage savings as nonprofit entities.
After managing the challenge of postage costs and moving more communication to the Web, the seminar companies weathered another hit after the 2008-2009 recession when businesses eliminated or deeply pared their training budgets in massive cost cutting.
“That was an impact on the entire industry,” Cave said. “But we see a good future.”