Summer Street Capital Partners Purchases Tulsa Welding School

Private equity fund manager Summer Street Capital Partners LLC purchases Tulsa Welding School, the largest accredited private welding school in the U.S., which trains more than 800 students annually for welding and inspection careers.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Although Summer Street uses its $300 million of managed capital to make equity investments that typically range from $5 million to $30 million in companies with annual revenues of $20 million to $100 million.
Within the for-profit post-secondary career school industry, Summer Street intends to focus on acquiring institutions with revenues in the range of $2 million to $50 million. Equity investors for the Tulsa Welding School transaction, in addition to Summer Street, include HSBC Capital (USA) Inc. and incoming management.
The transaction is Summer Street’s first investment in the for-profit post-secondary career school industry.
To lead the transaction, and Summer Street’s future partnerships in the industry, the firm formed a post-secondary career school investment team that includes experienced owners and operators who are committed to provide educational and career opportunities in order to help students succeed in work and life.
Michael Harter and Roger Hess, who purchased Tulsa Welding School in 1991, have retired. Summer Street’s Post-Secondary Career School Investment Team members Larry Brown and Dawn Bravo will join Tulsa Welding School as chief executive officer and chief marketing officer, respectively.
Tulsa Welding School offers structural welder, master welder and welding technology programs to more than 625 students on its main campus located on 2545 E. 11th St. and more than 350 students on its Jacksonville, Fla. campus.
The school employs about 90 instructors and administrators, including 51 in Tulsa, and recruits in a total of 14 states.
Tulsa Welding School’s graduates are taking advantage of the serious shortage of welders in the U.S., estimated to exceed 200,000 skilled welders by 2010 according to the American Welding Society. Its student placement rate is 94 percent, with starting salaries averaging in excess of $56,000 for graduates of the Tulsa campus. The school’s training programs are three-and-a-half, seven or 14 months in duration.

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