Exercise Equipment Inc. owner hands area retail to employee; continues commercial, service

After 40 years in fitness retail, Ted Szoch has decided it was time for semi-retirement and has handed over the day-to-day keys to Exercise Equipment Inc. of Pennsylvania to a former employee.
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After 40 years in fitness retail, Ted Szoch has decided it was time for semi-retirement and has handed over the day-to-day keys to Exercise Equipment Inc. of Pennsylvania to a former employee.

Szoch, 70, will continue to consult with the business (www.exerciseequipmentinc.com), but the daily retail side will be run by Ron Miller, who has moved it and renamed it Factory Direct Fitness Equipment. Szoch will focus on commercial sales in the area as well as service.

Szoch closed the doors on his location in Pittsburgh, Penn., on Aug. 25, allowing Miller to complete the move. He had tried to sell the business via a SNEWS® classified posting http://www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/09543.html?id=XX2umimD&mv_pc=434, which called it a "40-year-young business," but the ad didn't bring viable responses.

The developer of what he calls the "green exercise machine," Szoch has had serious interest in the energy-producing concept of a piece of exercise equipment and is in the process of completing additional, more refined prototypes. Click here to read a Dec. 4, 2006, SNEWS® story, "From workout to watts: Using exercise to generate power," on his machine and the concept.

Szoch is one of the industry originals who told SNEWS® he started jogging in place in 1963 while working at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. when he started hearing about the benefits of exercise and the longevity response. He lost 40 pounds and dropped his resting heart rate to 60 from 84.

"Wow, do you wonder how I got hooked?" he asked in an email, noting he had given the business his all for four decades and enjoyed every moment. He operated out of his basement for a few years selling steam cabinets, something he called a MarvaLounger for abdominal workouts, and one of the few pieces of exercise equipment that existed then, the Exercycle. He has considered several mergers over the years and was forced out of a prime location in town when the city decided it wanted the area for its new PNC Ballpark and bought out about 30 merchants.

No matter how hard he tried, he said, the business "would not let go of me." He even closed the store for a few years in the late '70s and went back to work for Allegheny, but "People would still call me." He said his wife, Jean, deserved a medal for sticking by his side all this time.

Szoch insisted he was not disappearing, but "changing gears." He can be reached at tedszoch@aol.com.

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