A Summit of Acquisitions
To build or to buy? Such is the question facing many of publishing’s young start-ups like William F. Reilly’s Summit Business Media—a business-to-
business media company serving the insurance, financial and professional services industries. Reilly, Summit’s chairman and CEO and a 25-year veteran of the media industry, opted for the latter. He founded Summit with the acquisitions of Pfingsten Publishing and Highline Media in November 2006, with the financial backing of private-equity investment firm Wind Point Partners.
Since then, Reilly and his team have made two more significant purchases: Wicks Business Information and Agent Media Corp.
“Agent Media is an important investment for Summit because it extends our footprint in the insurance industry with market-leading products that complement our existing product lines, particularly in the life, health and annuity segments,” says Reilly. “We will continue to make follow-[up] acquisitions as appropriate to support our growth strategy, while also providing operating management with the resources and market overview to drive organic growth through new products, line extensions and alliances.”
Today, Summit Business Media’s growing portfolio is home to 15 magazines, dozens of Web sites and electronic products, and seven trade shows and conferences. Publishing Executive spoke with Reilly and Joe Bennett, president of Summit’s SB Media LLC division (formerly the Pfingsten unit), on the strategies behind the company’s first-year growth and what they have in mind for Summit’s future.
Summit Business Media (SBM) has made a number of large-scale purchases since its formation in late 2006. What do you look for when building your company via these kinds of strategic acquisitions?
Joe Bennett: We look for companies that serve industries and markets with good historic-growth records and strong future-growth opportunities. We like companies with leading product positions in each of their markets. To date, synergistic fit between the businesses has been important. Most importantly, we look for companies with strong management teams already in place.