After over 20 years of leading and growing two of the largest childcare operators in the U.S., Robert Moffett and Scott Cotter decided it was time to develop their own program. Since 2020, they have opened 3 AIM Academy centers with 2 more set to open in the winter of 2023.
When did you first get started in child care?
I, Robert, was hired by Childcare Network (CNI) in November of 2000 to be VP of Purchasing and Procurement. Soon became the Chief Development Officer with a short stint as VP of Operations, while CNI took a year and a half off from doing acquisitions.
What is your experience in building a child care brand?
Through acquisitions and development deals, we grew Childcare Network by almost 200 centers during my 18 years with them. During my 2-1/2 years at Big Blue Marble, we doubled the size from 20 to 40 centers. We will have 5 centers open for AIM Academy with a couple more under contract by the end of 2023.
Can you tell us about your journey that has led you to start AIM Academy?
I had two bad experiences working with Private Equity firms, therefore Scott and I decided to pool our resources. We applied what we have learned over our combined ~50 years of service in this industry, in order to build what we believe is an industry-leading platform. This platform can be consistently introduced into upscale ‘underserved’ markets.
Where did you see the opportunity in starting your new venture?
Being able to take the best qualities of multiple successful private providers and combining them into a brand that provides top notch care and education at a premium price. Putting these programs into state-of-the-art facilities that serve growing communities with higher median household incomes and significantly underserved quality child care options. We also view the Alabama market as a relatively untapped, under-served market as the larger national and regional chains have generally avoided the state. We still need to be strategic in our site selection process to identify communities that can support a premium provider like AIM Academy.
What successes are you seeing early on in the AIM business?
AIM Academy of Pike Road reached 95% of capacity within 11 months of operations. AIM Academy of Chelsea is ahead of budget and has 60 FTEs within the first two months of operations. AIM Academy of Trussville has over 80 children pre-enrolled with another 6-8 weeks before we open. We have also found that the labor market challenges that plagued our industry post COVID have substantially subsided. We’ve found that we can successfully recruit experienced administrators and teachers with our highly competitive compensation and benefit plans along with our superior facilities and resources that teachers and administrators desire.
What are the growth goals for the company?
Business model shows building 3-5 schools per year and evaluating acquisitions as they appear within our targeted markets.
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