John Eichert: After the Sale

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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 9, 2000. All rights

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Eduneering’s new CEO: Frank A. Martin

A former division of Hastings Healthcare moved in

December

from the headquarters on Titus Mill Road in Pennington to Langhorne.

When Hastings was sold to Health Answers, Eduneering did not go with

the deal. Now this web-based training firm is poised for a major

expansion.

Venture capitalist Frank A. Martin, who leads a group that has made

a significant investment in the firm, is now president and CEO,

replacing

founder Robert Delamontagne, who has the title of consultant for

strategic

relationships. "We believe much of the potential of the Internet

is in market niches that have received minimal attention to date,

and EduNeering’s goal is to become a leading provider of corporate

online training products and services," says Martin.

Eduneering, founded in 1980, was an early innovator in computer based

training (CBT) and has systems designed to provide training for

companies

that are subject to strict government regulation, such as those in

the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries. Martin

plans to expand to medical devices, managed health care organizations,

and food services.

The company claims to have the largest library of networked and

distributed

computer-based training titles for the energy industry, and has

designed

more than 350 technology-based training programs used by more than

250 corporations. For instance, an enterprise-wide system for

designing,

managing, and delivering online learning, called EduServer, organizes

training and monitors and documents each employee’s progress.

To leverage such products, it will focus on more specialized training

than what is available now on the Internet and on such government

regulatory bodies as the FDA, HCFA, OSHA, DOT, and the EPA.

"I think the change is very, very positive," says

Delamontagne,

the founder and former president who merged his firm with John

Eichert’s

Hastings Healthcare in 1997. "We are looking to a terrific

marketshare.

We needed cash in order to build our library rapidly and to make the

technology investments to be a major player in our market segment.

An alliance with a major regulatory agency is in the works."

— Barbara Fox

EduNeering Inc., 1 Summit Square, Langhorne 19047.

267-757-0770. Home page: http://www.eduneering.com.

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John Eichert: After the Sale

As CEO of Hastings Healthcare on Titus Mill Road in

Pennington, John Eichert was operating a profitable small business

in a narrow niche when he made the choice to accept investment from

an outsider. Now he is the one on the outside, looking for something

to do.

Last year Eichert sold his company to a firm based in Austin, Texas,

that goes by the name Health Answers Inc. After the sale Eichert was

made president and chief operating officer in charge of 11 nationwide

multi-site online and offline companies. Three of these had come from

Hastings — an advertising agency, a disease management company,

and a consulting company. But Eichert found that his management style

did not mesh with the style of the acquiring CEO. Eichert and the

Texas-based CEO came to a "mutual agreement" and Eichert left

on December 1.

"We built our business out of cash flow, and there are limits

to that," says Eichert. "You can make a nice living but you

can get only so big. After eight years in a small business it starts

to wear you out. In a small business there is not a lot of room to

be tired."

"You have to bring energy in — money, and people with a

similar

vision. What I miscalculated is that I shared a vision with the

acquiring

company," says Eichert.

"The values that I held in running and operating a business were

quite different. I miscalculated the differences — and mine and

his ability to resolve the differences," says Eichert. "And

if two people can’t manage themselves together, it reverberates

throughout

the company."

Eichert is still involved with a venture capital firm, the Nantucket

Group, and is hoping to leverage his extensive knowledge of the

healthcare

industry to create a new fund for healthcare Internet ventures. "I

know the healthcare space really well," he says. "I am hoping

to leverage my time to be able to do something for companies and

people

where I can add value."

"In hindsight I would counsel any company to find how well it

matches the values of the acquiring company, what is at the core of

those values, and how it represents itself in operating the company

and the culture," says Eichert. "Most people don’t think about

value differences."

Fretting about those core values will keep you awake at night, says

Eichert. What particularly galled him was watching money go into

projects

that he deemed not useful. "That was important to me, not to waste

money. The vision can match but if values are misaligned, something

is going to fail." But, as Eichert ironically points out:"We all

think we are more indispensable than we really are."

Health Answers Inc., 112 and 114 Titus Mill Road,

Buildings A and B, Pennington Office Park, Pennington 08534-4399.

Gene Schneider, executive vice president, operations. 609-730-0100;

fax, 609-730-0330. Home page: http://www.healthanswers.com.


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