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Lightbridge Academy Closes 2022 With Record Year and is Ramping Up for More Growth in 2023

The early education and child care brand entered new territories in 2022 while continuing to grow in existing markets and expand its leadership team.

By Victoria CampisiStaff Writer
SPONSORED 1:13PM 01/26/23

Lightbridge Academy®, one of the nation’s leading providers of early education and child care, has been experiencing major franchise growth over the past few years. In 2022, the East Coast-based franchise expanded into new markets and provided entrepreneurs the opportunity to introduce an essential service to their local community. Lightbridge Academy sold 27 units in 2022 as it entered new markets such as Michigan, Ohio, and Texas while continuing to grow in existing Mid-Atlantic markets like North Carolina and Florida

“We are continuing to expand our Circle of Care and implement the Lightbridge Promise, which is the Gold Standard for health and safety in the child care industry,” said Lightbridge Academy CEO Gigi Schweikert. “And 2022 is a testament to that resonating with the families we serve. We are excited to continue the growth we’ve seen this year into 2023 and beyond.” 

This year’s new signings included Dallas-Fort Worth, marking the brand’s first entry into Texas. The team has big plans for the Lone Star State, with room to add 35 locations in Dallas and 30 in Houston. The brand also entered the state of Ohio for the first time, celebrating the signing of multiple franchisees in the Cincinnati area and also a multi-unit franchisee in the bustling city of Columbus. 

Additionally, Lightbridge Academy signed multiple new franchisees in North Carolina. Franchisees Shelby and Brian Kachel will be opening three centers in North Carolina. When the Kachels discovered Lightbridge Academy, they could tell that the concept was a step above the competition and not only in the area of the early education curriculum. The idea of entering the child care space, Shelby says, came during the couple’s move back to Wake Forest while trying to find the best preschool option for their daughter Londyn. 

“There was a clear need in the area for programs offering a high quality care and early education, and I’m personally excited at the prospect of interacting with and positively influencing the lives of young children and their families,” said Shelby. “We knew there was an opportunity to bring something better to our community.”

In 2022, Lightbridge Academy also experienced exciting new hires. To build on franchise development momentum and ensure that incoming franchisees have the support they need to thrive, the company hired Craig Murray as its new Chief Development Officer. Murray is leading and overseeing the franchise development team, leveraging his experience to create a repeatable, best-in-class development process that enables the Lightbridge Academy brand to scale in a responsible manner. Murray brings years of experience in real estate development in the dental industry, where he worked for three major dental organizations, building over 300 dental offices in 20 states and managing over $180 million in business. 

“I am excited to be in a leadership role that allows me to help advance the company’s growth plans,” said Murray. “There is plenty of room for high-quality early education businesses, and I gravitate toward industries that make a difference and add value. Best of all, working at Lightbridge Academy provides the opportunity for me to give back to families and children by opening more child care centers.”

Additionally, Lightbridge Academy expanded its development team with Andrew Miller and David Bailey as real estate managers. The two will leverage their deep experience to support franchisees while managing and expediting the real estate process.

Andrew Miller has worked for over 20 years in the real estate industry with experience in site selection, lease negotiations, development and acquisitions. He also has extensive experience with project management, asset management, construction and underwriting assets in commercial real estate markets throughout the country. He has managed national corporate accounts, portfolios and real estate/facility operations. David Bailey has 17 years of experience in the real estate industry, specializing in brokerage and tenant representation for high-value retail brands. Previously, Bailey worked for five years as a tenant representative negotiating new leases and operating expenses while maintaining open communication channels with stakeholders. 

"As one of the fastest-growing franchises, we are pushing full steam ahead with our franchise development plans, and bringing on experts like Andrew Miller and David Bailey will be an invaluable resource for Lightbridge Academy franchisees,” said Schweikert. “We're looking forward to entering more communities with our Circle of Care to make a difference for families in new markets across the East Coast and the South."

Another important milestone in 2022 was the Lightbridge Foundation® officially surpassing $1 million in dollars raised as it continues its mission to support children and working parents in the communities it serves and beyond. The foundation is the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization associated with the early education and child care franchise Lightbridge Academy. 

“This is a very exciting time for both the foundation and Lightbridge Academy,” said Lightbridge Foundation’s Executive Director Audrey Feci. “The company has been growing rapidly over the past year, and as we open more centers, it provides the opportunity to expand our support to more children and families in the communities we serve.”

Established in 2001 by the brand’s founder Guy Falzarano, the Lightbridge Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting working parents and children along life's journey. Its work is central to the core beliefs of all Lightbridge family members — meeting the needs of all parents and children is a natural extension of the Circle of Care philosophy, which inspires everything Lightbridge does as a company. 

Lightbridge Academy’s proven business model, strong support infrastructure and growing demand explain not only why new owners are joining but also why existing franchisees continue to invest in the brand and expand to multiple territories. Looking ahead to 2023, the team is excited to build on the momentum they’ve experienced this past year and continue to support children, parents, team members, franchise owners and the communities in which it is located. 

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About Lightbridge Academy: 

Established in 1997, the company was founded as a family business based on core values and a Circle of Care philosophy that places equal importance on the needs of children, their families, teachers, center owners and the community. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Lightbridge Academy provides quality early education and child care programs to children aged six weeks through kindergarten. The company currently has over 140 child care centers either open or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. In response to COVID-19, Lightbridge Academy launched The Lightbridge Promise as the Gold Standard for health & safety in the child care industry. In 2020, the company was featured on the Inc. 5000 ranking, Franchise Times Top 200+ awards, and on Newsweek’s 2021 list of America’s Best Customer Service. In 2022, Lightbridge Academy was featured for the 8th year on Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 and for the 2nd year on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. 


*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.