Launching a foundation to focus on literacy

Kevin and Laura Colebank – Tantor Media

The People

Kevin and Laura Colebank are like so many entrepreneurs: for over 14 years they put everything into building their business. The Colebanks sacrificed family time and vacations to build their company, Tantor Media, into one of the largest independent audiobook publishers in the United States. Tantor's extensive catalog of titles includes Man Booker, Pulitzer, and National Book Award winners, as well as countless New York Times bestsellers.

The Transaction

Opportunity had come knocking more than once, but the Colebanks recognized when the time was right to sell. Undoubtedly they wanted to maximize financial value, but at the same time they insisted on selling to a respected company committed to the audio book industry. The Colebanks chose Recorded Books, one of the industry leaders, a company backed by the private equity firm, Wasserstein & Co, LP. Following the sale, Laura and Kevin served as advisors during a 6-month transition phase.

The Start of a Legacy

The Colebanks see their legacy in multiple parts. First and foremost, they are taking precious time to be with their teen and pre-teen children. Spending time together during these formative years is vitally important to Laura and Kevin. So it is no surprise that when they created The Colebank Foundation they passed on their culture of giving to their children by truly making it a family endeavor. The foundation allows each member of the Colebank family to target philanthropic organizations that align with their personal views of social need.

For Laura and Kevin, The Colebank Foundation will build upon their work with children’s literacy. Prior to the sale, Laura had been involved with the Audio Publishers Association and the development and launch of Sound Learning: A Literacy Tool Kit, which provides educators and librarians with resources for fully integrating audiobooks into their curriculum. Laura and Kevin are strong believers in books as the gateway to academic opportunities and Laura wants to expand upon their involvement in this area. On the other hand, their children are leaning toward sports and animals as their philanthropic outlets.

Outside of the family, the Colebanks see their legacy in what they have enabled for their employees. “The sale was a great opportunity for our employees. We knew they would be taken care of, that the new company would invest in them, and provide growth opportunities,” says Kevin.

Laura has sworn off corporate life for now, and is more interested in the non-profit arena. She also envisions their life filled with more travel and exploration, while Kevin evaluates new business opportunities – though not necessarily starting something from scratch. But there is also another facet to post-transaction life. As Kevin says, “The sale has given us the opportunity to live life on our own terms. It’s a very freeing feeling.”