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HFE Corp. acquires majority ownership in Springfield research firm

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Branson-based Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. has acquired majority ownership in Springfield-based research consulting firm Jerry Henry & Associates to form a new company called H2R Market Research.

Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Jerry Henry said he is still a partner and president in the company.

Henry has worked for 18 years as corporate director of research for HFE Corp. and created Jerry Henry & Associates in 2003 with the blessing of HFE, Henry said, noting he continued to work in his role at HFE while working Jerry Henry & Associates. During that time, work done through the consulting firm was performed for companies that were not in competition with HFE.

Now, H2R Market Research will perform the work previously done by HFE's Henry-led research sector for its attractions as well as provide full-service research to other companies in the travel and tourism, leisure, health care and retail service sectors.

"Having the connection to HFE will open doors that might not have opened as easily as before, just from familiarity," Henry said. "Being associated with a world-class brand is a very positive thing."

New to the consulting firm is a U.S.-based call center in Springfield at 4650 S. National Ave., which Henry said would allow the company to provide its clients with quicker and more efficient service. Previously, the company outsourced its calls.

"In the end, it really becomes about capacity and the ability to turn work around," he said, noting the company will be able to add more analysts.

He said he anticipates the company will upgrade its number of employees to 15 as the research sectors become in-season.

“Jerry has always maintained a hands-on and practical approach to research," Rick Baker, HFE senior vice president of marketing, said in a news release. "His team is skilled at analyzing and interpreting data so it is easily understood and helps move business forward.

"This new partnership strengthens his group’s capabilities and provides customers with economies of scale. You get world-class research insight at real-world costs while maintaining a personal touch.”

H2R Market Research specializes in business insight for its clients and provides several research services, including online surveys, telephone interviews, mail surveys and focus groups.

Henry was selected as one of Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know in the event's inaugural year in 2008.
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