Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Informa plc
Incorporated: 1977 as Zenger-Miller Inc.
Sales: $100 million (2006 est.)
NAIC: 541618 Other Management Consulting Services
AchieveGlobal Inc. is a professional services company that provides corporate training and performance improvement consulting in three core areas: leadership development, customer service, and sales effectiveness. The company's Genuine Leadership program helps to develop leadership qualities at all management levels, people who then attract talented subordinates and better execute a company's business strategy. AchieveGlobal's customer service program, the so-called Stellar Service Experience, is designed to improve the skills of a company's customer service operation to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately improve a company's balance sheet. The company's Achieving Superior Sales Performance system deals with all levels of a client's sales effort, from executives to sales directors, sales managers, and the front-line sales representatives. AchieveGlobal's roster of clients is a who's who of the Fortune 500 and European Financial Times 500 and includes a large number of midsize companies as well as state and federal agencies. The company operates in more than 40 countries and its programs have been translated and customized into more than 30 languages and dialects. The Tampa, Florida-based company maintains six major offices in the United States, located in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Worldwide, AchieveGlobal has four South American offices, more than 20 offices in Europe, covers the continent of Africa with an office in South Africa, and maintains 14 in the Pacific Rim region. AchieveGlobal is a subsidiary of Informa plc, a United Kingdom publisher of business, industry, and academic materials.
COMPANY FOUNDED: 1977
AchieveGlobal was founded in 1977 in Cupertino, California as Zenger-Miller Inc. by John Hancock "Jack" Zenger and Dale Miller. The company's president and better known of the partners was Zenger. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1931, he earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University in 1955 and two years later received a master of business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He then went on to earn a Ph.D. in business administration at the University of Southern California in 1963. After a few years of teaching, he joined Syntex Corporation, a Palo Alto, California-based pharmaceutical firm, becoming vice-president in charge of human resources. Even before he entered the corporate world, Zenger had developed an interest in the concept of leadership. While a graduate student at UCLA he became involved with a program called "Skill Practice and Supervision." In an interview with Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, he recalled, "The professors didn't ever talk about supervisors; and there was never any attempt to actually develop any skills. It was totally interpersonal awareness and sensitivity training." Zenger discovered that no one could even agree on the definition of leadership, let alone provide training that led to concrete results.
As the head of human resources at Syntex he had to confront actual rather than academic problems. When he realized that the company's supervisors did not really known how to supervise, he decided to find a way to help them. Meanwhile, at Alcoa Aluminum a friend of his was implementing a training program developed by industrial psychologist Mel Sorcher. Zenger and his Syntex colleague Dale Miller paid a visit to Alcoa in Oakland, California, where they were shown a training film of Alcoa's new supervising training program, featuring a supervisor handling a performance problem. "The film showed the supervisor's nervousness and anxiety throughout the whole process and, importantly, it showed him doing it right!" Zenger recalled for Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. Zenger immediately realized that here was the answer to the way to deal with leadership training in a practical manner rather than offer vague abstractions and lofty ideals. This new and revolutionary approach provided a conceptual model, followed by examples of the principles being correctly applied, and then time for supervisors to practice and rehearse before on-the-job application. Furthermore, Zenger came to believe that by improving the skills of supervisors, a company could change its entire culture because supervisors dealt directly with the workforce and therefore had a profound impact on the organization, whether it be helpful or detrimental.
When Zenger and Miller left Syntex in 1977 they established a two-person management-consulting firm, offering management and organization-development consulting to small and midsize companies in Northern California. The original idea did not pan out as they hoped, however. Their target customers, they soon realized, were too preoccupied with sheer survival to invest money and time on the luxury of management development. The partners had to expand their scope beyond their regional market and quickly grew disenchanted with the travel involved. Instead of being consultants, they decided to create packaged training programs for companies of all sizes to teach one-on-one interpersonal skills to supervisors and first-line managers. According to San Francisco Business Times, the shift in strategy was a gamble: "Both men knew a lot about management training, but little about packaging training programs. Startup costs were high, and the company was entering a fiercely competitive market where the founders' consulting reputations carried little weight." Fortunately, their first product, simply named Supervision, became a bestseller and quickly set the industry standard for supervisory skills training while establishing Zenger-Miller as a leader in its field.
Top-performing organizations all have one critical thing in common: motivated individuals who are connected to a clear strategic vision and prepared to achieve. AchieveGlobal can create this powerful dynamic in your organization. We can help you clarify strategy; identify gaps in the current skills, attitudes, and behaviors of your employees; and provide the consulting and training that closes those gaps.
ZENGER-MILLER ACQUIRED IN 1988
By the mid-1980s Zenger-Miller was operating four regional offices, serving some 3,000 clients and half of the Fortune 500, generating annual revenues of about $14 million. Twice it made INC. magazine's list of the fastest–growing private companies. In order to remain competitive in the expanding—and consolidating—training and development industry, and further grow its client base while fulfilling the needs of its current clients in a cost-effective manner, Zenger and Miller realized that they needed to become bigger. They faced a difficult task in finding investors, however. Banks, for example, did not know how to put a value on something as intangible as training services. In order to obtain the necessary funding, the partners considered making an initial public offering of stock, but after two or three years of indecision decided to put the company up for sale and team up with a larger organization with the necessary financial resources. In November 1988 they agreed to be acquired by the Times Mirror Company. The newspaper and broadcasting conglomerate, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was interested in becoming a dominant player in the training and development industry. In addition to Mirror Systems, a software and video development company, three years earlier it had acquired one of Zenger-Miller's top competitors, Learning International, which produced supervisory training programs as well as sales-training programs.
Under Times Mirror, Zenger-Miller was allowed to operate independently. In some cases it continued to compete against Learning International in overlapping areas, while at other times it made use of the much larger company's resources, in particular taking advantage of Learning International's global reach to expand Zenger-Miller beyond the North American market. In addition, it tapped into Mirror Systems' expertise for help in developing software and video training products.
By the early 1990s Zenger-Miller expanded its programs to include Group-Action, FrontLine Leadership, and Working, aimed at improving communication skills, initiative, and the judgment skills of employees. They were available in ten languages and more than 50 countries. In addition, Zenger-Miller offered research services, custom-design training programs, and seminars.
Jack Zenger served as Zenger-Miller's president until 1992, when he was promoted to a group vicepresident of Times Mirror. As such, he was placed in charge of Times Mirror Training Group. In addition to Zenger-Miller, it included Learning International and Tampa-based Kaset International, which focused on customer loyalty and commitment. He retired as chairman of the unit in 1997. A member of the HRD Hall of Fame (created by Training Magazine and Lakewood Conferences in 1985 to honor outstanding HRD professionals), he was not ready to live the rest of his life in leisure, however. He was quickly recruited by financial entrepreneur Paul Verrochi to serve as a consultant and lend his reputation to create a company called Provant, Inc., which intended to become a major consolidator in the private training field. A decade earlier, Times Mirror appeared to be primed to pursue such a strategy but after a few more acquisitions had backed off. Zenger would help Provant select the right companies to pursue as it assembled a company that would be attractive to Wall Street in a public offering of stock. He subsequently became Provant's president and chief operating officer.
ACHIEVEGLOBAL FORMED: 1998
The training industry was clearly ripe for consolidation and expansion. There was no major brand dominating a field populated with independent firms. Moreover, in the mid-1990s companies were eager to upgrade the quality of their workforce in a variety of areas, and they preferred to deal with a single company that could provide all of these services to fulfill those needs. Because of these changing trends, executives heading the Times Mirror Train Group units began discussing the idea of combining their specialties into a single company. The group had already taken steps in that direction. Once maintaining completely independent operations, Zenger-Miller, Kaset International, and Learning International had earlier in the 1990s combined much of their backroom operations to save costs. Because there was only a 7 percent overlap in customers between the three subsidiaries, it made sense to combine their products and services under a single brand, something less prosaic than Times Mirror Training Group. The name settled upon was AchieveGlobal, and in January 1998 the revamped group began doing business under that name. Merging three sister companies provided an unanticipated benefit as well. Many of AchieveGlobal's clients were employing the company to help them in dealing with a merger. Their training provider was gaining firsthand experience of what they had to deal with, thus making AchieveGlobal a more sympathetic, and valuable, partner.
- Jack Zenger and Dale Miller found Zenger-Miller Inc.
- Zenger-Miller sold to Times Mirror Company.
- Zenger heads Times Mirror Training Group, which Zenger-Miller.
- Zenger retires.
- Times Mirror Training Group changes name to AchieveGlobal.
- AchieveGlobal sold to Institute for International Research.
- Institute for International Research acquired by T&F Informa.
AchieveGlobal established its headquarters in Tampa where Kaset International was based. The company changed its approach somewhat, becoming more solution-based than content-based because increasingly clients were looking for business problems solutions that were not content specific. AchieveGlobal also became involved in consolidation in a small way. It had already entered the healthcare training field before the merger with the acquisition of McLean, Virginia-based Customer First, a training company that focused on hospitals. Then, in July 1998, AchieveGlobal added Einstein Consulting Group of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specializing in consulting services and training programs for hospitals ranging in size from 150 to 250 beds.
By this time, the company, with its various acquisitions, no longer fit into the long-term plans of its parent corporation. In the fall of 1999 Times Mirror decided to focus on its core businesses: newspapers, magazines, and flight information services. A number of assets were put on the block, including the StayWell health information company, the Allen Communications Software, and AchieveGlobal, all deemed to be underachievers. Any possible sale was delayed due to the merger of Times Mirror with Chicago's Tribune Company in June 2000. Finally, in September 2000 Tribune reached an agreement to sell AchieveGlobal to the Institute for International Research (IIR) for $100 million. IIR was a privately owned United Kingdom-based provider of conferences, seminars, exhibitions, publications, performance improvement, and eLearning programs aimed at corporate executives. It got its start in 1973 as a newsletter publisher and later expanded into conferences.
AchieveGlobal's annual revenues were in the $100 million range in the early 2000s. In 2004 the company named Sharon M. Daniels as the new president and CEO. She was well versed in the training field and had previously served as CEO at Kaset International, and was one of the leaders in the drive to consolidate the three Times Mirror Training Group units to form AchieveGlobal. She then became COO at AchieveGlobal before leaving to become the CEO at a pair of other training companies. She returned to AchieveGlobal after a four-year absence.
AchieveGlobal's ownership changed again in 2005 following the $1.4 billion acquisition of fast-growing IIR by T&F Informa, a business and industry publishing company formed a year earlier by the merger of Informa Group and Taylor & Francis Group. It subsequently changed its name to Informa plc. AchieveGlobal's primary role with the new parent company was to help grow its North American business as part of a larger growth strategy.
Provant, Inc.; VisionPoint, Inc.; McKinsey & Company.
Blackwood, Francy, "1992 Entrepreneur of the Year," San Francisco Business Times, June 26, 1992, p. E1.
Cronan, Carl, "AchieveGlobal Evaluates Itself, Too," Tampa Bay Business Journal, October 10, 2005.
Flynn, Gillian, "How Training Mergers Help You," Workforce, November 1998.
Galagan, Patricia A., "Roll 'Em Up," Training & Development, May 1998, p. 26.
Gordon, Jack, "The HRD Hall of Fame," Training, January 1994, p. 37.
Madsen, Susan R., and Janice Gygi, "An Interview with John H. Zenger on Extraordinary Leadership," Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Spring 2005, p. 119.
McCall, Margo, "T&F Acquires IIR for $1.4 Billion," Tradeshow Week, June 13, 2005, p. 1.
"Times Mirror to Shed Units," Editor & Publisher, September 4, 1999, p. 10.
"Zenger-Miller Acquired by Times Mirror," Training and Development Journal, February 1989, p. 8.