JAN-PRO Case Study

JAN-PRO is an interesting case study for several reasons. First, it is a textbook example of how a franchise once acquired by private equity, is often bought and sold in a fairly predictable cadence of secondary buyout (SBO) re-trading to different private equity partners as the company continues to grow. At each stage in the company’s life cycle, it has evolving needs and thus naturally aligns with the skills and objectives of different private capital partners along the way.

Second, the JAN-PRO example also demonstrates how partnering with a succession of private capital partners can promote long-term franchise growth. Since new JAN-PRO franchisees joined and existing franchisees added to their franchise count across this trading activity, it would be fair to assert that franchisees were largely satisfied under various private equity owners. Otherwise, the company could not have sustained its fast and consistent pace of growth over a number of years. None of the firms that owned JAN-PRO are turnaround investors. All are known as growth investors. This is a further signal of largely positive franchisee feedback during this period, or these investors would not have been involved with the company.

That isn’t to say that challenges were absent across these transactions and ownership periods. Notably, the company was involved in a significant joint employer case that wound its way through the US courts for 10 years. Despite the legal and labor controversies, multiple PE firms and franchisees saw value in the business and chose to invest in JAN-PRO. They drove steady growth of the business during this same period. Furthermore, JAN-PRO ultimately became part of a larger business services platform, and some of its multi-unit franchisees have themselves been private equity acquisition targets. All this growth and dealmaking reflects the overall resilience of the franchise model and franchising’s enduring appeal, even where there are headwinds.

Let’s look at the company’s history to understand the impact of PE on its evolution. Commercial cleaning company JAN-PRO was founded in 1991 by Jacques Lapointe. He and his team grew the business over 15 years until JAN-PRO had 75 master franchisees and 4,500-unit franchisees. (Master franchisees act as the franchisor of record and provide in-market services and support in exchange for retaining a portion of royalties. This structure is often used outside the franchisor’s home country, where localization and in-market support are critical to franchisee success.) The company exhibited solid and consistent growth. However, by 2006, Lapointe was ready to take the company to the next level, especially regarding strategic growth initiatives. In interviews at the time, Lapointe indicated that bringing in PE was partly a life choice and partly to help the company grow and evolve.1 He chose Greentree Capital, an affiliate of J.H. Whitney (JHW Greentree Capital LP) and Starboard Capital Partners. J.H. Whitney was one of the first US PE firms, established in 1946. In September 2008, a recapitalization led by Webster Capital Management, Gemini Investors, and Midwest Mezzanine Funds was completed. According to Starboard Capital, the recapitalization returned in excess of 9× the original equity invested by Starboard and its partners and a company value 4.5× greater.2

Starboard and its partners remained partially invested, but Webster became the principal equity investor. Gemini would have other successful franchise investments, including Wingstop, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Premier Garage, while Webster invested in Re-Bath. JAN-PRO was eventually organized under a parent company called Premium Franchise Brands, which in 2013 launched Maid Right.

In October 2016, Incline Equity Partners acquired Premium Franchise Brands. In February 2019, the company announced the add-on acquisition of Intelligent Office. Premium Franchise Brands was renamed LYNX Franchising in April 2019. The company continued to make acquisitions, including FRSTeam in June 2020. In April 2018, LYNX sold Maid Right to Premium Service Brands. (Note the similar name to the original platform of Premium Franchise Brands, but this sale was to a completely different entity. I feel your pain. Stay with me.) Premium Service Brands itself is also actively pursuing a platform strategy. As of this writing, Premium Service Brands has acquired nine home services franchise concepts and is currently backed by private equity firm Susquehanna Private Capital LLC.3

In December 2020, private equity firm MidOcean Partners acquired LYNX Franchising, which by that time was a multi-brand platform with a collection of business services, including Intelligent Office, FRSTeam, and JAN-PRO Systems International. JAN-PRO Systems International then had $600 million in systemwide sales across 7,500 franchisees.4 Later, in 2021, the largest franchisee operator in the JAN-PRO system, RBJK Marketing, itself attracted private equity investment from Boathouse Capital to fund organic and inorganic growth initiatives, including expansion within the JAN-PRO system.5 By the end of 2022, JAN-PRO added another 500 franchise units to reach 8,000 franchise units around the world and 125 regional developers in nine countries. As of this writing, JAN-PRO has been ranked the number one commercial cleaning franchise by Entrepreneur for 15 straight years and as a top franchise by Franchise Business Review for the last 9 years.6 (The Franchise Business Review ranking is based on franchisee satisfaction surveys.) The LYNX platform was renamed again to Empower Brands.

Empower continues to acquire brands to expand the platform (e.g., April 2023: Koala Insulation and Wallaby Windows, and May 2023: Bumble Roofing.) Once a franchise is acquired by private equity, it may be re-traded several times, as in the JAN-PRO example. If franchisees as a group are largely happy, they will continue to add units and will validate well enough to continue to attract new franchisees into the system. Franchisee satisfaction is the root of any strong and growing franchise system over the long term. The JAN-PRO case study exemplifies the growing importance of franchise platforms and the complexity of often interwoven secondary deals in franchising.



1 Goldberg, Eddie. (2006) Franchise Update Magazine. “Jan-Pro Founder Jacques Lapointe Keeps His Hand In.”

2 Starboard Capital Partners release. (September 17, 2008.)

3 Company press release (April 1, 2021): “Susquehanna Private Capital Invests in Premium Service Brands.”

4 Company press release (January 20, 2021): “Lynx Franchising Acquired by MidOcean Partners.”

5 Boathouse press release (December 16, 2021): “Boathouse Capital Completes Growth Investment in Largest Jan-Pro Franchisee.”

6 See JAN-PRO company website for updated list of awards and industry recognition.

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