Jonathan Grayer is only 39, yet this year he will complete his first decade at the helm of Kaplan Inc. Back in 1994, Washington Post Co. Chairman and CEO Donald E. Graham wondered if he should sell or close the education unit, which was tiny yet troubled. Instead, he put Grayer in charge. Today, Kaplan is becoming the Post's financial crown jewel. Sales grew at a 31% annual rate in the first nine months of 2003 and are expected to pass $1 billion in 2004, as Grayer uses acquisitions to push Kaplan far beyond its roots in SAT test preparation. It runs the nation's first big online law school, Concord Law School; a network of for-profit colleges; and an after-school tutoring service. It also provides professional training for Realtors and others. And with the purchase of Ireland's largest for-profit B-school, Grayer is getting busy overseas.
Kaplan made an operating profit of $82 million through nine months of last year, before the Post took charges connected with its $138 million offer to buy back 55% of the stock options held by Grayer and his top managers. As the repurchase at generous terms suggests, Graham is counting on Grayer and Kaplan to drive the growth of Washington Post Co. for a long time.
-- Revenues soared past those of the The Washington Post newspaper, certifying Kaplan's status as the company's growth engine.
-- Ventured overseas by acquiring for-profit Dublin Business School in Ireland.