Case Study: Student Life

Based in Birmingham, Ala., Student Life provides Christian summer camps, conferences and information for children and youth across the U.S. The organization provides ministry with Gospel-centered, Bible-based experiences that transform youth & kids into devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Since the first Student Life event in 1993, the company’s customer base has grown tremendously to include over 65,000 event participants and approximately 10,500 churches.

The Company was founded by Randy Hall, who had dedicated much of his career and life to student ministry. Randy and Founders have a long personal and business relationship, with Founders advising Student Life on the sale of their publishing assets to NavPress in 2010. Founders also sourced growth financing for the business in 2011.

Randy had been the steward of the Student Life business for twenty years, and was seeking a partner who could continue the ministry work that Student Life had become known for while retaining the employees and culture that made Student Life special. There were many different service and product offerings to the Student Life business, including camps, events, mission trips, Student Life for Kids, Student Life @ the Beach, Student Life Resources, Refuge and their relationship with Compassion International. All of these components and considerations had to be incorporated into the sell-side process.

The Principals of Founders advised Student Life to seek a strategic sale to achieve the immediate goals of the company while also providing a path forward for the leadership and employees. Through extensive research and dialog with companies that operated in many different aspects of ministry, non-profit, and other Christian-related enterprises, Founders developed a wide range of potential buyers. After reviewing these with the client, the company was then marketed to a targeted group of potential partners, and Founders was able to source several potential options for the company. Subsequently, a series of in-depth and open management meetings were held to address the question of potential fit between the different enterprises.

Ultimately, LifeWay Christian Resources provided the best combination of benefits for Student Life, from cultural, financial and combined leadership.

  • Combined, LifeWay and Student Life minister to more than 130,000 teens each year as two of the largest providers of Christian student conferences
  • LifeWay has been able to leverage their brand in expanding the reach and resources of Student Life
  • Liquidity was achieved for the ownership of Student Life, which allowed for repayment of existing obligations who had funded growth in the company, as well as to start some new initiatives
  • Student Life was able to remain in their existing offices in Birmingham, retaining much of their existing autonomy and culture, as well as their leadership and employee base
  • Founders was able to complete this intense process, whose objectives were as much or more relational and cultural as financial

In order to assist Founders Investment Banking with securities related transactions, including this transaction, its Principals are registered investment banking agents of M&A Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SiPC. MAS and Founders are not affiliated entities.

Founders Investment Banking (Founders) is a merger, acquisition & strategic advisory firm serving middle-market companies. Founders’ focus is on oil and gas, industrials, software, internet, digital media and healthcare companies located nationwide, as well as companies based in the Southeast across a variety of industries. Founders’ skilled professionals, proven expertise and process-based solutions help companies access growth capital, make acquisitions, and/or prepare for and execute liquidity events to achieve specific financial goals. In order to assist Founders Investment Banking with securities related transactions certain Principals are registered investment banking agents of M&A Securities Group, Inc., member FINRA/SiPC. M&A Securities Group and Founders are not affiliated entities. For more information, visit