Merger Announced – BLR and M. Lee Smith

BLR and M. Lee Smith Publishers Join Forces

If two heads are indeed better than one, then Fortis Business Media LLC will be a powerhouse.

That is the new company name for the merger of two longtime SIPA members: Business & Legal Resources (BLR) of Old Saybrook, Conn., and M. Lee Smith Publishers (MLSP) of Brentwood, Tenn. The merged companies will retain existing branding and operate as subsidiaries of parent company Fortis.

“BLR and MLSP bring 35 years of experience in providing top-rated compliance products,” said Robert L. Brady, CEO and founder of BLR, and SIPA’s Secretary and 2011 Annual Conference Chair. “Our combined investments in technology platforms and broad-spectrum delivery channels will better position us to meet the challenges of information marketing and distribution in the Internet age.”

MLSP CEO Dan Oswald, who is also president of the Specialized Information Publishers Foundation, agreed with Brady’s assessment. “Both companies command great respect among U.S. employers of all shapes and sizes, and this merger will allow us to leverage our respective strengths. We are excited about the opportunity it offers to develop valuable new products and take them to new markets.”

This merger continues the common strategy at both companies to provide customers with best-of-breed compliance technology, content and customer service. Together, the merged entities will serve more than 250,000 professionals in the fields of human resources, environmental compliance management, employee safety, workers’ comp management and workplace training.

“It was a long time in the process,” said Brady, who added that MLSP founder Lee Smith first approached him in the late ’90s about the idea. “Only in the last couple months did it really come together. Through SIPA, I’ve known Dan for 20 years and have seen him develop all the way from a junior employee into a great CEO. I’ll be happy not to have to compete against him anymore. The two companies together make a lot of sense; we can capitalize on what each of us does best.”

The new senior management team, led by Oswald, will consist of Brady, Guy Crossley (also a SIPA board member), Bobby Edgil, Matt Humphrey and Lawton Miller. The company will be headquartered in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, retaining operations in Old Saybrook and Alameda, Calif.

Prairie Capital, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm that has been an investor in M. Lee Smith Publishers, will continue as an investor in Fortis Business Media. “The combination of BLR and MLSP creates a market-leading resource for compliance-related information,” said Nathan Good, vice president at Prairie Capital. “We are excited to be partnering with Dan and Bob, and their respective organizations, to provide best-in-class products to our many current and future customers.”

Founded in 1975, MLSP works with the 50-member Employers Counsel Network of law firms to provide compliance guidance through their HR Hero® line of products and the HRLaws platform. BLR has been, since 1977, a leading provider of employment, safety and environmental compliance solutions. Professionals use MLSP and BLR products and services to develop and implement policies and practices that meet the complex demands of multiple and often overlapping state and federal laws, and train employees and supervisors on implementing them.

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