Nautic Looks to Clean Up in Janitorial Services
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Nautic Looks to Clean Up in Janitorial Services

Nautic Partners has formed Helton Education Services (HES), a provider of outsourced maintenance services to the education sector, in partnership with industry executives Charlie Spencer and Buddy Helton.

Nautic has previously invested with these two executives through GCA, a national provider of janitorial and facility management services. From 2003 to 2012, under the leadership of Mr. Helton, GCA’s business grew from a start-up to more than $500 million in annual revenue.

In 2012, GCA was sold by Nautic to Blackstone, and in 2015 the company was sold to Thomas H. Lee Partners and Goldman Sachs. Then, in 2016, Messrs. Helton and Spencer founded Education Solutions Services (ESS), a provider of K-12 staffing services, which in 2017 merged with Nautic’s Source4Teachers, a provider of outsourced substitute teacher and services to K-12 schools. With the formation of HES, Mr. Helton will remain as the CEO of ESS, while Mr. Spencer moves from his position as executive vice president of ESS to president of HES.

“Nautic is fortunate to have known Buddy and Charlie for many years, and to have supported them at GCA, ESS, and now HES,” said Bernie Buonanno, a managing director of Nautic. “We believe our long-term and successful relationship is a testament to their talents and is an example of how we aspire to be the partner of choice for top management teams.”

In May, Knoxville, Tennessee-headquartered HES made its first acquisition with the buy of SMS, a provider of custodial services, facilities maintenance, and groundskeeping services to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, universities, vocational, and trade schools in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.

“We are excited to have the support of Nautic as we seek to build HES into a strong national player. Our management team and customer relationships are strong today and we believe they will only improve over time through this partnership,” said Mr. Helton. “We are actively looking for companies to join our platform and we aspire to be the acquirer of choice for high performing family-owned companies in the education facility services industry.”

HES continues to seek additional regional maintenance services companies with a goal to assemble a national company to provide custodial and maintenance services to K-12 and higher education customers across the United States.

“Particularly in light of the unprecedented budgetary and health challenges posed to schools by COVID-19, HES is proud to have the management depth and experience to offer the very highest levels of cleaning and facility maintenance services at a competitive cost,” said Mr. Spencer.

Nautic is a middle-market private equity firm that makes majority equity investments of $25 million to $250 million in companies that are active in the healthcare, industrial products, and outsourced services sectors. In March 2019, the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm held a final closing of Nautic Partners IX LP at its hard cap with $1.5 billion of limited partner commitments.

Private Equity Professional | August 25, 2020

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