Serent Snapshot: Tony Layne, Co-Founder, Aria Care Partners 

Serent Snapshot: Tony Layne, Co-Founder, Aria Care Partners 

July 9, 2024

Meet Tony Layne. Tony is a Co-Founder of Aria Care Partners, the nation’s leading provider of mobile clinical services such as Dental, Vision, and Audiology to nursing home residents, expanding their access to care. We sat down with Tony to learn more about his experience with Serent Capital. 

“Aria provides life changing care,” Tony notes. “Imagine a setting where people have nobody coming to clean their teeth, nobody coming to see about inflammation in their mouth, or to upgrade hearing aids or eyeglasses or a denture no longer fits. These things are critical to maintaining your quality of life and your independence. So we really have the pleasure of looking back and knowing we improved the lives of thousands of people across the country.” 

“My wife and I founded the business, honestly, with a lot of hard work in the trenches – not really knowing what we were doing and building it to the best of our ability. At some point it became clear to us that we needed more support. We chose to go with Serent because, among the various parties involved, Serent was the only one that had no-fee access to really brilliant minds to come in and support the business. Not to mention, I fell absolutely in love with the guys I got to know. 

Building a Collaborative Partnership 

Right from the start, the Laynes knew that Serent was the right fit. “In basically our first meeting, we sat down together in a conference room, shut the door, and whiteboarded out solutions for the business – what Aria Care would do if it had greater access to capital and support, what threats the business faced competitively, how we could improve more lives by the changes we might make, and what it would take to put a deal together. 

“David Kennedy finally stood up and, in front of the whiteboard, penciled out a deal that he would stand behind. We shook hands that day. And over the subsequent months we put the deal together. 

Serent’s focus on building collaborative relationships with founders made them a natural partner for Aria Care. “Serent brought a level of support that we didn’t think any other buyer had,” Tony notes. “They brought an ability to be a true partner for us. We didn’t want to sell the entire company, which all the strategics were requiring. Serent was allowing us and actually encouraging us to roll equity and participate with them at a board level and even at an executive level for some periods of time, helping push that business. 

“So we were able to take money off the table, but do it in a way that allowed us to preserve this mission for ourselves and, and keep plowing forward and to do it with tremendous support, access to great capital, access to great minds, people that we could tell had really high integrity.” 

Realizing Faster Growth Through M&A 

Working with Serent’s Growth Team enabled Aria Care to dramatically expand its service offerings. “When we teamed up with Serent, we were one lane. We were dentistry,” Tony notes. “Since we teamed up with Serent, we’ve expanded that service offering out to full service lines. We’ve entered lots of new states. We’ve gone on an aggressive campaign of growth through both organic and M&A – things that frankly were never attainable in the absence of Serent’s support. Their involvement, their support operationally for us to improve our systems, brought a lot of skill around technology and systemization of the business. It put us on a whole new trajectory.” 

An early acquisition opened Tony’s eyes to the potential of acquisitions as a growth strategy. “One of our most notable acquisitions was the purchase of Senior Vision Services, which at the time was the largest provider of vision services to nursing homes in America,” Tony recalls. “It did a couple of things. It brought us heavily into the fee-for-service world, and it also expanded us into an entirely new service line. That transaction was where we realized just how good the M&A path could be for us, because the economics of the deal were just so strong. And it was just a wonderful outcome for the business and their business as well. 

“We had an attractive opportunity to grow the business through M&A, and that’s something that just wasn’t attainable in the absence of a partner like Serent Capital,” Tony notes. “We’ve entered new markets with M&A, which is great, but we’ve also expanded existing markets with new service lines through M&A. I don’t think we’ve entered any specialty in the absence of M&A. It’s been a critical part of expanding the offering of our care partners.” 

Aria Care’s focus on M&A remains a core part of its growth strategy. “We’ve been able to do that very aggressively. We acquired six companies recently. We have four deals currently under LOI. Aria Care is 500% more profitable today than it was pre-pandemic, and it’s largely because of the support we get from Serent Capital.” 

Building a Relationship-Focused Growth Process 

Tony planned to step back from Aria Care with Serent’s investment – but Serent co-founder David Kennedy changed his mind. “I went back in as CEO for a year, which was a huge growth time for me,” Tony explains. “Building a family business organically in the trenches is one thing, but serving as CEO of a private equity backed company is on a whole other level. I moved out of that and into an executive chairman role to execute on the board’s vision of this M&A path. 

“We set up a unique process where all I do is simply focus on using my backstory as the founder to build relationships with folks that we think would be a good partner for Aria Care. I manage those relationships through the process and our new CEO, who is amazing, takes the ball from there and actually implements the system. And so we’ve really built a sort of M&A machine within Aria Care Partners today to totally execute on that strategy. 

Looking to the future, Tony is excited about the impact Aria Care is making. “Aria Care Partners is now on a path to amazing heights. It’s going to achieve remarkable economic success, but that’s secondary to the fact that previously we were impacting 20,000 lives and we’re now at nearly 60,000 lives that we’re impacting on a daily basis, and what was maybe a thousand nursing homes is now three or four thousand. The impact it’s making on the elderly society in this country is fantastic. The impact it’s had on the company has been incredible. The impact it’s making on me personally is fantastic. And so all the way around, the partnership with Serent Capital has been the right move for Aria Care Partners.” 

Serent Capital invests in growing businesses that have developed compelling solutions that address their customers' needs. As those businesses grow and evolve, the opportunities and challenges that they face change with them. Principals at Serent Capital have firsthand experience at capturing those opportunities and navigating these difficulties through their experiences as CEOs, strategic advisors, and board members to successful growing businesses. By bringing its expertise and capital to bear, Serent seeks to help growing businesses thrive. Learn more about our portfolio companies.


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