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Meet Wendy and Jim Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick Partners in Newnan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wendy and Jim Kirkpatrick.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Kirkpatrick Partners was founded in 2008. People are often surprised to find out that the company is fairly young, because we teach the Kirkpatrick Model of training evaluation, which has been around since the 1950’s. The model has been the standard for showing the value brings to an organization for decades, despite the fact that there was no Kirkpatrick company in the past to support it.

The model was created by Dr. Don Kirkpatrick (1924-2014) when he was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, as the subject of his PhD. dissertation, He was teaching university extension courses on management skills for supervisors, and he wanted to know if his training was making an impact. In the process, he quite accidentally invented what today is known as the Kirkpatrick Model:

Level 1: Reaction.
The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging and relevant to their jobs

Level 2: Learning
The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment based on their participation in the training.

Level 3: Behavior
The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job

Level 4: Results
The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability

Don was asked to write an article for a training journal in 1959, and his ideas thereafter became coined the four levels, and the Kirkpatrick Model, although he did not name the levels nor call them a model himself.

Tattered copies of the articles were passed around for decades, until he wrote his first book on the topic in 1994, “Evaluating Training Programs”.

The four levels continue to be used as the worldwide standard for training evaluation today. In the nineties, Don’s oldest son, Jim, started working as a training consultant and teaching the model. He co-authored three books with Don.

In 2008, Jim Kirkpatrick met Wendy Kayser, a training manager with product management and marketing background. They got engaged and started Kirkpatrick Partners with $10,000 from Wendy’s savings account. Wendy saw the obvious business plan; people wish to learn the Kirkpatrick Model from the Kirkpatricks.

Jim and Wendy started building the business together in 2009. It was somewhat backwards compared to your typical business. They already had great brand awareness and a popular product; the problem was, they had no infrastructure to support it. As quickly as they could, they build products and programs around the Kirkpatrick Model, and processes and systems to support the training programs they conducted, and books, articles and white papers they wrote.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The business grew exponentially for the first few years, which was exciting, but taxing. Many people did not realize that the business was new and small, because the brand name was so well-known in the industry.

There was criticism, at times. People said things like, “I can’t imagine a business of your caliber publishing a newsletter with a typo in it!” Little did they know that the business had two owners, and at the highest employee count, just 4 full-time employees. At the same time, this small group supported growth to 14 international affiliates, and a dozen facilitators in the U.S.

The business started in Jim and Wendy’s home in St. Louis, MO. They relocated to the Atlanta area in 2012, when it was clear that the St. Louis airport was just to regional to support their frequent domestic and international travel as the business grew. They chose the Atlanta area not just because of the airport, but also for the warm weather, big city, and Jim’s dream, to live on a fishing lake.

Today, there is a small office in Newnan and just 3 employees supporting programs around the world. The tight group is a work family, and it was rocked earlier this year by the announcement that Jim and Wendy were divorcing. The silver lining is that the team is stronger than ever. Jim and Wendy are the most strangely amicable divorced couple most people have met. Now that both of them are living where they choose to live (Jim in Newnan, and Wendy in Midtown), everyone is happy, and they get along great as far as the business is concerned.

Fortunately, the work family trusted in Jim and Wendy, and did not leave in fear that something would change in the business. So far, so good! The next chapter will be to inform business partners, affiliates, contractors, etc of the divorce, but no change in the business. Perhaps this article will accomplish that!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kirkpatrick Partners – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Kirkpatrick Partners is proud to be the One and Only Kirkpatrick® company, and the only provider of authentic Kirkpatrick products and programs. The company carries on the work of Don Kirkpatrick, PhD, and the Kirkpatrick Model of training evaluation, also referred to as the four levels of evaluation.

Kirkpatrick Partners offers training, consulting, impact studies, books and other written resources on the Kirkpatrick Model and related concepts.

Kirkpatrick Partners is a family-owned small business established in 2008 to respond to a growing need for companies to rationalize the resources dedicated to training.

Kirkpatrick Partners is firmly grounded in the principles that Don Kirkpatrick created over 50 years ago.

Don served as the company’s Honorary Chairman until his passing in May of 2014. Jim Kirkpatrick, Don’s son, is a Senior Consultant with the company. Don’s daughter-in-law, Wendy Kirkpatrick, is the Founder and President of Kirkpatrick Partners.

Kirkpatrick Partners proudly continues to reinforce the importance of the Kirkpatrick levels of training evaluation around the world. In addition, the newer Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model and Kirkpatrick Foundational Principles underpin all products and programs the company provides.

We believe one of our differentiators is our focus on both the people and the numbers.

We believe that training evaluation doesn’t have to be boring and academic. We live and work in full color, with emotion and passion. We believe that the story of value contains meaningful metrics punctuated with emotional stories told by real people who have experienced and grown through training and their subsequent growth, performance and accomplishments.

When people attend our programs, they often say the fear and apprehension they had about what they thought we were going to ask them to do went away when they saw that the math is simple, and the bigger goal is to work with and talk to people.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
There are no big changes planned for Kirkpatrick Partners. They have to announce to the world that Jim and Wendy have gotten divorced, but the business will not change. Perhaps this article serves as the announcement!

Jim and Wendy plan to stay the course, continuing to sign on international affiliates to teach Kirkpatrick programs in other countries and other languages. They are thinking about topics for their next book, with an anticipated release date of 2019.

They are also considering adding a “training in a box” offering to companies and organizations that wish to purchase licensed materials for their own internal training.

Since the company is young and the model is loved, there is so much that can be done with basic product development and company growth. Jim and Wendy feel so blessed to have the wonderful dilemma of trying to decide where to focus their limited resources every day, because there is so much demand for the model.

And of course, someday they both wish to retire, but that will not occur anytime soon.


  • Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation book, $24.95
  • Training on Trial book, $24.95

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lombard Studios, Hartland, WI

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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