Clarity Group Case Study
- Headquarters: Chicago, IL
- Acquisition Date: February 2020
- Vertical Market: Healthcare
- Visit Company Website
Based out of Chicago, IL, Clarity Group provides risk management software and patient safety services to healthcare organizations in the USA. They are a leading provider for Healthcare reporting, claims management, and patient safety software, along with national benchmarking programs and risk quality safety consulting.
Clarity Group was founded in 2002 by Rick Becker and Anna Marie Hajek. Before starting Clarity, Becker and Hajek worked together at a manufacturing program consulting group, where Becker served as Chairman and CEO and Hajek served as Executive Vice President and head of the Healthcare Risk Services Group.
Shortly after their previous company was sold, Becker and Hajek assembled a team of patient safety, risk management, insurance and claims specialists and created Clarity Group. Their mission was to expand their groundbreaking work in healthcare risk management and analytics into the burgeoning realm of electronic patient safety reporting and risk management software.
The Decision to Sell
In 2019, Becker and Hajek were ready to retire and looking for an exit strategy. Ultimately, they decided that Volaris Group was the best home for their company and appointed Tom Piotrowski as the President of Clarity Group. Mr. Piotrowski has been with Clarity for 10 years and served in many roles, including Clinical Informatics Manager, Executive Director of Clarity PSO (an operating division of Clarity), and VP of Clinical Operations.
Prior to his roles at Clarity Group, Piotrowski worked in the healthcare field as a registered nurse and has held various roles in management and leadership. He received his Master’s in Health Systems Management (HSM). The HSM degree was critical for Piotrowski in acquiring the skillsets to oversee large clinical projects that encompassed many aspects of safety in tandem with the care delivery process, which is what Clarity was looking for in 2010 when he started.
Piotrowski was first introduced to Volaris Group in December of 2019. He knew that the two previous owners of Clarity were interested in selling the business and that Volaris was a potential buyer.
My first impression was that the folks I met were good listeners, which meant that maybe they were true to the corporate philosophy of preserving the expertise that the companies they acquire can bring to the table. Still true today, the products and general operations of Clarity remain intact, and we still run a healthcare resources company, which is what we are experts in doing. The difference now is that we have the backing from a strong parent company and we can really focus on our growth, which is again the core philosophy of Volaris.
During the time of the acquisition, Clarity faced quite a few challenges. Not only was the company transitioning from previous ownership, but Clarity was also in the process of relocating their corporate office. Additionally, the acquisition process stated in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Due to the pandemic outbreak, Piotrowski was not able to meet face to face with Becker and Hajek during the 30-day period post-acquisition when they stayed in an advisory role. Piotrowski had to dive headfirst into his new role as President and learn quickly. With the support of the integration team, Piotrowski has been able to learn more about the functional areas of the business and transitioned finance, legal, and HR responsibilities to the corporate level.
Volaris seemed to understand where we were and gave us the time needed to get through major hurdles. Having time to re-direct the company was very important so that we can stay a cohesive unit. Our orientation and on-boarding to Volaris was strategized in a way that allowed for a good balance of company operations and transitions.
Since the acquisition, Clarity Group continues to operate with full autonomy under Piotrowski’s direction. After going through the process himself, he explains that while it may be bittersweet for some small companies, having clear financial and operating goals is critical to success long term.
Clarity’s relationship with customers went virtually unchanged, as they were completely transparent with them throughout the transition. Piotrowski personally talked with several clients and key stakeholders to describe the acquisition and explain how they would still be operating as Clarity Group. He noted that transitioning to a new people leadership role after the previous owners left the business was certainly challenging, but still overall well-received by clients and staff. Clarity focused on making it clear that their mission is to remain experts in patient safety.
“My leadership style seems to be pretty aligned with Volaris. This means allowing staff the freedom to be creative, challenge conventional wisdom, and take more ownership of their departmental processes. I am a huge proponent of finding great talent in our staff, and making sure we have the right people on the bus and in the right seats on the bus and that the bus is headed in the right direction!”
Piotrowski plans to utilize Volaris’ network and resources to help his employees and himself grow professionally, and he is looking forward to attending Volaris’ functional summits to learn from other business leaders in the portfolio. Additionally, engaging in M&A activities in the future is of interest to Clarity Group with the backing of Volaris Group. Because the healthcare space is a newer market for Volaris, Piotrowski will be an integral part of the growth of this vertical. Piotrowski has already been involved with discussions to find new companies that may be good candidates for Volaris Group and has creative ideas for how to expand the vertical.
Due to the long-term investments in the companies Volaris Group acquires, the partnership between Clarity and Volaris will allow Clarity to achieve their ultimate goal of growth both for their core business and within the healthcare vertical.