Los Angeles – Profiled April 2008
Earlier this year, executives at Lexicon Marketing thought they had a surefire winner: take their best-selling at-home English course and expand on it with a series aimed at Latinos seeking to get ahead in business.
Ingles sin Barreras English Without Barriers has been a longtime favorite among Latinos, but Profesiones sin Barreras Professions Without Barriers has run head on into a barrier: the depth of the economic slowdown.
The new series teaches English skills in four career tracks: construction, medical office staff, sales and small-business ownership. It was supposed to help bolster business when sales of Ingles sin Barreras slowed in 2006 as the construction boom started to wane. About one-third of the Los Angeles company’s customers are in that industry.
However, job losses across all industries have taken a toll and have been even worse than anticipated in construction. The company was profiled in April.
“It has been a difficult year for everyone,” said Karissa Price, a vice president at Lexicon, which is owned by San Francisco private equity firm Golden Gate Capital. “We have scaled back on growth plans.”
One bright spot has been the medical course, correlating with still strong growth in the health professions. Also, the series has been a hit with job seekers looking to compete in the bad economy, Price said.
To encourage sales during the economic downturn, the company has dropped its enrollment fees down to $200 from $360. The courses cost $1,000 to $1,500 in total and require about 100 hours to complete.