The numbers add up: Huntington Learning Center has become $150M franchise business

By Meg Fry
Oradell | Mar 30, 2018 at 7:15 am

In 1976, Eileen Huntington’s peers all told her she would be crazy to leave her tenured teaching position, she said.

“People thought I had lost my mind,” she said. “They would say, ‘You have summers off; you can focus on family. Why are you doing this?’

“But I saw so many students struggling with reading, math, study skills — I knew there was a need to give every student the best education possible and I knew the demand would be there right from the start.”

She was right: Founded in 1977, Huntington Learning Center has since become the nation’s leading private tutoring and test preparation provider for primary and secondary students, with nearly $154 million in corporate and franchise revenue.

That, Huntington said, is nearly 46 percent more in revenue than their closest competitor.

“We produce results,” Huntington, co-founder and CEO of the Oradell-based company, said.

“On average, students tutored at Huntington Learning Center increase two grade levels in math and reading after three months, or about 30 hours of instruction, and students who are in the test preparation program typically see a five-point increase in their ACT scores and a 238-point increase in their SAT scores within the same period of time. We also help kids get, on average, $50,000 in college scholarships each year.

“These results can be life-changing for both students and their families.”

Huntington Learning Center currently operates 300 centers in 41 states — 35 of which are owned and operated by the company and 19 of which are currently in New Jersey.

“I cannot believe it has been 41 years since I left my tenured teaching position and risked everything to open the first center with my husband,” Huntington said.

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Huntington left her job teaching high school history in Bound Brook in 1977 to open the first center, in River Edge. Her husband, Raymond, left his job in business research a year later to open a second location, in Livingston.

By 1985, the duo had opened 18 centers in the northern New Jersey and Philadelphia areas, and began franchising the concept in New Hampshire.

“Opening 18 centers in eight years from cash flow was pretty amazing,” Huntington said. “We knew we had a scalable concept because we never needed outside financing.”

Huntington Learning Centers offer teacher-certified instruction at the kindergarten through 12th-grade levels in reading, writing, mathematics, science and study skills. The centers also hire college-educated instructors to help prepare students for tests such as the SAT, the PSAT, the ACT and Advanced Placement exams.

“Our full academic evaluations pinpoint a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses,” Huntington said. “What we are then able to do is develop customized learning plans to address those weaknesses through individualized instruction.”

Huntington said she is concerned by an ongoing trend in which the U.S. lags behind many nations when it comes to education.

“The Program for International Student Assessment is a two-hour exam administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development every couple of years to measure what 15-year-olds around the world know in math, reading and science,” she said. “The U.S. now ranks 31st out of 72 nations who participate.

“I remember when our education system was ranked one of the best in the world.”

That is why Huntington said it is important to her that every Huntington Learning Center be a community-centric organization heavily involved in student-focused initiatives.

“We’ve worked with many school districts all over the country, with our results having been validated by students in places such as the Chicago and Los Angeles public school systems,” she said.

“In New Jersey, we create great working relationships by partnering and going into schools to meet with administrators and parents, all of whom are very happy with the increases they’ve seen in the students’ scores.”

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Schools, students and their families are not the only New Jersey participants benefitting from Huntington Learning Center’s success.

Nearly 130 employees — out of nearly 8,000 employees nationwide — work at the company headquarters in Oradell to keep up with the rapidly growing industry.

“Huntington Learning Center was one of the founders of the education industry, which is something that we are extremely proud of,” Huntington said. “Right now, it is a nearly $4.3 billion industry, which is expected to become a $5.4 billion industry by 2019.”

Though demand is high, franchise costs are not, Huntington added.

“Franchises cost between $110,000 and $225,000, depending on which part of the country you are in,” she said. “And our franchisees, many of whom come to us after leaving corporate jobs with Fortune 500 companies, say that our initial training and ongoing marketing, operational and technology support systems are better than anything they have ever seen.”

Huntington Learning Center plans to open 50 more locations across the country over the next year, Huntington added — even though the first half of the year is typically the busiest.

“Midterm exams and report cards are being issued; there is state testing, followed by the SAT and ACT test in the spring; and, in parent-teacher conferences, this is the time that teachers may be telling parents their children may need to repeat a grade.

“We are able to help a number of those students build the skills necessary to be able to keep up by September.”

Award-winner

Eileen Huntington, co-founder and CEO of Huntington Learning Center in Oradell, was named the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by the International Franchise Association.

“I never dreamed of developing an industry that helps students, families and communities in addition to Huntington franchisees,” Huntington said. “I am so proud to have built a results-driven business that truly helps students while also enabling franchisees to succeed.”

Conversation Starter

Reach PR contact Lee Groeger at: lgroeger@3epr.com or 973-263-5481.

Meg Fry | mfry@roi-nj.com | megfry3