Cat Trail began and remains an investment company serving the Dekker family. Initially, the firm’s objective was to invest in a broad array of asset classes using managers, while actively pursuing direct private equity in startups and distressed companies.  The breadth and scope of Cat Trail eventually expanded beyond private equity to include direct trading activities.  While private equity remains a core area of activity and interest for Cat Trail, the operation has developed its own investment model to identify trends, talent, and differentiated, non-correlated exposures, providing diversification, opportunistic valuation, and risk mitigation.

Cat Trail began after Marcel Dekker, Inc. was acquired at the end of 2003. Marcel Dekker, Inc. (Dekker) was a scientific/technological/medical (STM) publishing company founded by David and Russell’s father, Marcel Dekker, in 1964.  Prior Marcel worked in marketing and sales for the publishing firm, Interscience, which was founded by Marcel’s father, Maurits Dekker, and Eric Proskauer in 1947.  Interscience merged with John Wiley & Sons in 1963, becoming Wiley-Interscience.  An entrepreneur at heart, Marcel founded his own firm, Marcel Dekker, Inc. and began publishing in new analytical methods in Chemistry.  In the late 1960s, after working out a release of his non-compete from Wiley-Interscience, Maurits joined Marcel Dekker, Inc. as its Chairman (focusing on editorial development), with Marcel continuing as the firm’s President (focusing on marketing, sales, and operations).  Soon after the announcement of Mau joining Marcel Dekker, Inc., Wiley changed its name back to John Wiley & Sons, with Interscience becoming a division and imprint.

Like Interscience before it, Marcel Dekker, Inc. prospered by publishing in Chemistry.  However, Dekker also eventually expanded into such fields as Mathematics, Statistics, and Library & Information Science.  In the 1970s, Dekker expanded into Engineering under the leadership of Graham Garratt.  In the 1980s, Dekker grew into the Life Sciences, including Biology, Pharmaceutical Science, and Clinical Medicine.  Dekker transformed into a larger STM publisher in the 1990s, building upon its foundations while producing original programs in Agriculture, Food Science, Environmental Science, Material Science, and Public Administration.  In 1997, Marcel Dekker retained his Chairman title but vacated the Presidency after suffering a stroke, passing the company’s leadership to his two sons, Russell Dekker as Chief Publishing Officer and David Dekker as Chief Operating Officer.  Going into the 2000 millennium, Dekker was one of the most active, profitable, digital, and international STM publishing firms with growing journal, book, and encyclopedia programs.

In the late 1990s, the internet was posing both opportunities and challenges for traditional publishers.  Dekker embraced the changing landscape and largely overcame the digital challenges by building a strong web presence, a new brand image, pioneering in-house content management, and directly publishing material in real time to the web and syndication partners.   Crossroads Media, a separate company owned by David and Russell Dekker, also purchased Achorn Graphics (Achorn) in 1998, creating a joint venture (JV) between Marcel Dekker Inc. and Achorn, a typesetter which had developed a unique technology to render STM content accurately on the web.   The JV enabled Dekker to process all its new publications through Achorn for simultaneous typesetting and complete XML markup.  Achorn became a well-regarded and growing STM vendor based on its novel technological service, working with other prominent STM publishers such as Elsevier, Kluwer, Springer, Wiley, and McGraw-Hill.  Achorn was sold in 2001 to SPI Graphics, a company backed by Tommy Lee Partners.  As part of the sale, Dekker continued to produce its works through SPI at a predetermined discount, allowing Dekker to continue to build upon its digital STM footprint.

In 2003, Dekker’s Board of Directors decided that it was the optimal time to seek a purchaser for the company as various industry factors had nicely aligned, many interested acquirers had actively approached Dekker, and industry valuations were at an all-time high.  The Taylor & Francis group, plc (T&F) quickly became the top buying candidate, as it was actively acquiring other STM firms at a premium, such as CRC Press in early 2003.  Dekker’s American base and digital activism made it an especially good fit with the more English and print-centric T&F.  It was made clear during the negotiation that in order for T&F to purchase Dekker, a buying multiple in excess of the highest in STM history, which at that time was the 1998 purchase of Plenum Press by Wolters-Kluwer, would be required.  Terms were generally agreed upon, T&F began its due diligence process, and the transaction for Dekker’s publishing assets closed at the end of 2003.  Russell and David worked for T&F, honoring their required employment contracts, but left soon after to establish new ventures.  Now well established and with better resources, Cat Trail has become a full service investment boutique for the Dekker family seeking unique trading and investment opportunities.  Cat Trail does not service non-family investors, but does participate in investment syndicates with other select family offices.