Nonprofit retirement plan industry veterans have formed U.S. Retirement Partners Inc., a company that hopes to acquire regional firms that sell retirement plans to grade schools, middle schools and high schools.

Robert Dughi, the chairman of U.S. Retirement Partners, Iselin, N.J., was a co-founder of the Copeland Companies, a national 403(b) plan business, and he continued to run the business after it was acquired by Citigroup Inc., New York. He retired from the business in 2005.

Mark Skinner, president of U.S. Retirement Partners, is a past president of Copeland.

Centre Partners Management L.L.C., New York, is backing the new company.

Owners of regional firms that decide to join with U.S. Retirement Partners “will be shareholders in the company and members of the senior leadership team, but they will continue to operate under their own names and will continue to run their businesses,” U.S. Retirement Partners says.