Sagebrush, Winnebago merger creates K-12 powerhouse

Sagebrush Corp. and Winnebago Software Company, two leaders in K-12 information solutions, have completed a merger of their privately held firms.

As of Jan. 14, the combined company will operate as Sagebrush Corp., with headquarters in Burnsville, Minn. With about 600 employees and annual revenues exceeding $75 million, Sagebrush will be one of the largest, fastest-growing firms dedicated to the market for K-12 information solutions—a category that includes library automation systems, quality-bound books, cataloging services, internet solutions, and other educational resources.

“This merger unites two successful companies that emphasize strong customer support, innovation using proven technologies, and highly talented people,” said Jay Stead, president and CEO of the newly combined firm. “By pooling [our] talent, we will accelerate the pace of innovation in our industry… [allowing] our customers to deliver educational services more broadly, effectively, and conveniently than ever before.”

Stead stressed that customers and others can expect continuity following the merger:

• In the library automation market, Sagebrush Corp. will continue to offer all of the products that were sold separately by Winnebago and Sagebrush, and each group of sales reps will continue selling the products it has been selling. The popular Winnebago Spectrum product and Sagebrush’s rapidly growing Athena product will continue to be sold, and prior-generation Winnebago and Sagebrush products will continue to be fully supported. Each of these products offers distinct features and user interfaces.

• Customers can also expect the same level of service and innovation in the company’s other businesses: Sagebrush Learning Resources, which provides K-12 schools and libraries with quality-bound books, reading program software, and other educational materials through Econo-Clad Books and American Library Publishers; and Sagebrush Library Services, which serves publishers and distributors with MARC records, processing, and a comprehensive list of cataloging solutions.

• The Sagebrush and Winnebago work forces are being kept virtually intact. A small number of jobs in each company have been eliminated due to restructuring, and these individuals have been notified.

• The company plans to keep all current Sagebrush and Winnebago locations. Sagebrush locations are in Burnsville, Minn.; Austin, Texas; Topeka, Kan.; and Edmonton, Alberta. Winnebago locations are in Caledonia, Minn., and Onalaska, Wis.

• All contracts with partners and suppliers will continue to be honored.

Winnebago Software founder and CEO Jeb Griffith said he will leave the company following the merger to pursue other professional and personal interests.

A pioneer in the development of library automation software, Winnebago serves more than 26,000 library professionals in more than 70 countries worldwide with library management and internet products and programs for Windows, Mac OS, and MS-DOS.

Burnsville-based Sagebrush Corp. is a fast-growing provider of integrated information management solutions for education. The company offers library automation systems, information solutions, and learning resources, with a focus on the K-12 market.

Gateway founder Waitt steps down as CEO; new education VP named

Gateway founder Ted Waitt has relinquished his title as chief executive officer to president Jeff Weitzen, though he will remain chairman of the board for the computer company known for its cowhide-designed boxes.

“It was the right move at the right time,” Waitt said of the change. “I’m still in a position to be involved in the strategic direction of the company and I will continue to be an active chairman.

“Jeff’s appointment to CEO is really just a formalization of the roles we’ve had for the past couple of years,” Waitt said. “He’s worked extremely hard in preparing Gateway for the [21st] century and he has built a management team capable of executing our goals.”

The change took place Jan. 1.

Weitzen, 43, retains the title of president, continuing to run Gateway’s operations as he has since joining the company in January 1998.

Before Gateway, Weitzen spent 18 years at AT&T, most recently as executive vice president of the Business Markets Division. As head of the $24 billion business unit, Weitzen led the company’s efforts in creating and delivering voice, data, online and emerging electronic commerce services to businesses, the government, resellers, and other long-distance carriers.

Under Weitzen’s leadership, Gateway has branched out from a personal computer hardware manufacturer to a provider of other products and services, including a partnership with American Online that provides internet access with the purchase of most Gateway PCs.

Weitzen also oversaw sharp growth in the Gateway Country store retail chain, which helped the company in the third quarter of 1999 boost its non-system income to 15 percent. The company expects that number to double by the end of next year.

Prior to the change at the company’s helm, Gateway named Tom Fitzgerald to lead its education sales. Fitzgerald, 47, brings more than 25 years of experience in the education marketplace to Gateway. As vice president of education for Gateway Business, he will set the strategic direction for the company’s K-12 and higher education initiatives.

Fitzgerald joined Gateway from Dell Computer, where he most recently served as director of sales for Dell’s K-12 business. Prior to that effort, Fitzgerald also held senior sales management positions in the education division at Apple Computer, Digital Equipment Corp., and Western Union Corp.

Gateway, which went public in 1993, moved its headquarters to San Diego a year ago from Sioux City. The company has 19,300 employees and earned $346 million on $7.5 billion in sales last year.

SmartStuff, Altiris team up to combine product lines

SmartStuff Software Inc., a leading provider of desktop security software for schools, has announced the addition of two new software applications to its FoolProof Solutions line of products for the K-12 market.

The two products are Altiris Inc.’s LabExpert, a remote PC administration and cloning tool that reduces the cost and effort required to configure and manage large populations of Windows PCs, and Vision, an easy-to-use PC demonstration product designed to help instructors teach more successfully in Windows-based computer labs.

The addition of LabExpert and Vision stems from the formation of a strategic partnership between SmartStuff and Altiris, in which the two software applications will be offered as companion products to SmartStuff’s FoolProof line of security and internet filtering solutions.

“Customers have been asking for remote administration and demonstration tools that can work in concert with our FoolProof Security and Internet products for some time,” said Steve Marriner, vice president of marketing for SmartStuff Software. “We chose Altiris because of the breadth and flexibility of its solutions; the LabExpert and Vision products are the only PC management and demonstration tools that are completely compatible with the entire line of FoolProof Solutions, giving us the broadest and most reliable desktop security and management offering available.”

“Offering Altiris products along with FoolProof Solutions from the same source makes a lot of sense for a lot of schools,” said Tyler Smith, vice president of marketing for Altiris Inc. “Customers can now choose from a suite of best-of-breed education solutions from a company with a great reputation for customer service.”

Introduced in 1993, SmartStuff’s FoolProof security solutions now protect more than 2 million computers in over 25,000 schools across North America, according to the company. In 1999, SmartStuff became a division of School Specialty Inc., the largest U.S. distributor of non-textbook educational supplies and furniture for K-12 schools.