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Computer Training Firm in Santa Ana to Be Sold : Transaction: New Horizons center will fetch $14 million. The instructional company began in a storefront in 1982 and later sold franchises worldwide.

August 17, 1994|ROSS KERBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — A small Orange County company that trains business people to use computer programs said Tuesday that it is being bought out by a New Jersey firm for $14 million.

New Horizons Computer Learning Center Inc., founded 12 years ago in Laguna Beach by Michael Brinda, has grown into a chain of computer instruction centers with total 1993 revenue of $22.8 million and 51 franchises worldwide.

Brinda, a former mainframe instructor for Sperry Univac, kept the original franchise and moved it to Santa Ana. It had revenue of $10.5 million last year.

A spokesman for the buyer, Handex Environmental Recovery Inc. in Morganville, N.J., said the company is looking to diversify beyond its environmental cleanup business, a field that is becoming increasingly competitive. John St. James, the company's chief financial officer, said there are no plans to move or lay off any of the 150 employees at New Horizons' Santa Ana office or at the other franchises.

For Brinda, 40, the sale caps what he describes as an "exit strategy" he began when he started selling franchises in 1992.

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New Horizons offers training on personal computer programs such as word processing and spreadsheets, as well as networking and programming. Most of its students are enrolled by their employers, though last year about 10% were in government-funded retraining programs, Brinda said.

Brinda said he will stay on for a year as president of the company he started in 1982 after taking out a second mortgage on his house. He bought 10 IBM personal computers for $3,500 each, he said, and began teaching from a rented storefront in a strip shopping center.

The company has not had an unprofitable year, he said Tuesday.

Franchises of New Horizons sell for about $250,000 each, with some variation depending on location.

Handex, which was founded in 1968 and began trading its stock publicly in 1989, had 1993 revenue of $38.7 million.

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