Enrico barnstorms St. Louis, acquires The Fitness Store

Wasting no time fulfilling a promise to spread the 2nd Wind Exercise name all over St. Louis, Mo., Dick Enrico and his team in the first week of April took over The Fitness Store's two locations in the area and opened two more stores.
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Wasting no time fulfilling a promise to spread the 2nd Wind Exercise name all over St. Louis, Mo., Dick Enrico and his team in the first week of April took over The Fitness Store's two locations in the area and opened two more stores.

Revealed nationally in SNEWS®'s FitBiz in March, Enrico ran a full-page ad in late February in the St. Louis Dispatch seeking real estate for a dozen or more possible locations in the region. He told SNEWS® he immediately began fielding more than 200 inquiries and offers.

"It went crazy," Enrico said of the results in talking about his plans for the area.

That quickly steamrolled forward, with the first step to acquire The Fitness Store based in Missouri and run since 1985 by Rick Viehland, which gave Enrico immediate locations as well as trained staff, he said.

"They're welcome to be part of the 2nd Wind family," Enrico said of the deal that was made official late in the day March 31. 2nd Wind now has 61 stores, up from 56 on Dec. 31, 2005, including the two acquired stores (in Creve Coeur and Des Peres), a third opened April 1 (Chesterfield Mall) and a fourth opened April 8 (West County Mall).

Said Viehland, "They were coming to the area so we thought, 'Why not join forces?' I'm glad to be with 2nd Wind."

Viehland has become the area's commercial sales rep and his wife and business partner Adrienne Weindell is working in management and operations. A long-time 2nd Wind employee originally from the St. Louis area, Alan Egan, has moved there to become regional manager and help guide growth that Enrico said will hit at least seven stores by the end of the month and skyrocket to about 12 or as many as 15 by late summer. Signage on The Fitness Store locations will change soon, they said, and the website (thefitnesstore-mo.com) is as of April 7 taking consumers directly to 2ndwindexercise.com.

"We go into a market and absolutely dominate," Enrico said, noting it now has 19 locations in Wisconsin, 18 of which came in 2005. "We just do it. If there are warm bodies living there, those are prospects for me.

"Do I like a challenge?" he asked. "Yeah."

Instead of simply acquiring stores, Enrico said his company has a model and game plan, so when it moves into an area, it just executes the plan as it does in other areas.

In fact, he hinted he is already sizing up the next geographic market to move into although that won't be until later this year. The growth he said gives his "hungry" sales staff opportunities for promotion to store managers and regional directors, giving them incentive to stay with 2nd Wind, especially since they get continuing sales training every year -- more if they need more.

"It's people that make my business work," he added. "If they can play in my league -- the NFL of fitness -- they can do very well."

SNEWS® View: Since Viehland carried three lead brands also carried by 2nd Wind (Octane, Vision and Hoist), it was a no-brainer for him to agree to be acquired and indeed gave Enrico two immediate staffed and stocked stores. Fitness Showcase may also lose a couple of key brands, and it's unclear at this time what it will do. Another retail group in the area, the five "True Advantage Fitness" stores, is run by True Fitness (former Fitness Experience stores "acquired" by True a few months before the chain went belly-up in January 2005). Currently, only one of the locations (Chesterfield) actually conflicts with a new 2nd Wind store, but we'll bet that Enrico's team is smart enough to move in not far from where the others are as a part of the growth strategy -- either that or take them over. Now wouldn't that be something to consider…. There are, of course, other small stores in the metro region and a few in other Missouri areas that may also have to sit up and look around a bit. Although Enrico doesn't have a goal except to grow and keep feeding his sales staff and management team, it is bound to become even more of a dominant retail force. It may still be half the number of Fitness Holdings International's group (Busy Body Home Fitness, Omni and LA Gym), but it is growing at a higher rate, as we noted in the March 2006 FitBiz, nearly doubling in the last two years.

(By the way, in case you missed our annual Spring FitBiz list of top retailers by numbers and a short look at all the retail moves in 2005, click here to see the latest issue of FitBiz, which morphed into an electronic publication this year and was sent in mid-March to all SNEWS® subscribers and in late March to a list of others.)

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