Two fitness industry vets newly onboard at Lifestyle Fitness Equipment will help that chain take another step forward on its growth path with several new stores in the next quarter.
Clint Arms, formerly with Fitness Headquarters, which sold its retail business in August 2005 to Fitcorp, has joined the group and will be the regional manager for and a partner in the Raleigh, N.C., Lifestyle Fitness business segment. That area's first store is expected to open in mid-November with another following closely by about Dec. 1, said Chip Hunnings of Lifestyle Fitness/All About Fitness.
Ray Barone, formerly national sales manager at The Fitness Experience, which declared bankruptcy and shut down nearly two years ago, started mid-October and will be the regional manager for the Winston-Salem, N.C., area, which will include Greensboro, N.C. That first store should open by about Nov. 1.
"I am very excited to get back in the fitness industry," Barone told SNEWS®. "I had to make a fast decision, although it was very easy since I've known Chip a long time. The timing was just perfect for both of us. He has been very successful in the industry and I look forward to learning from partners Chip, Bill Wagner and Jeff Taksey."
With two new regional managers starting, Hunnings told SNEWS® that manager Bryant Stadler in Charlotte, N.C., will now be able to focus on growing that market.
Another new store will also be coming to the Oklahoma Lifestyle stores in mid-November, also under the oversight of regional manager Todd Schlepp.
It's still all about All About Fitness too
In Kansas and Missouri, where the company's stores are still called All About Fitness, stores, overseen by Mike Mays, now number three.
"With the addition of Clint (Arms) and Ray (Barone) to Bryant (Stadler), Mike (Mays) and Todd Schlepp, we have industry veterans overseeing all of our areas," Hunnings said. "Our future growth will be based on expansion in our current markets, as well as seeking out other markets that suppliers view as under-served. The key will be to develop people in our system to move into the new markets or to continue to attract industry veterans that have the ability to run a multi-location market."
Hunnings sold the Colorado-based All About Fitness chain he was a partner and co-owner in to Fitness Holdings International (dba Busy Body Home Fitness) in April 2004, keeping the Kansas location. He said he did not have plans for the North Carolina area although at that time he did intend to stay in the industry. But vendors changed his mind -- and having the right people and right contacts helped too, he said.
Current vendors depending on the store or city are: Vision, PaceMaster, Landice, Octane, Hoist, Vectra, Body-Solid, Powerblock, Cap, True, LifeCore, Lifespan by PCE, Quantum, Keys, Prospot, Polar, GoFit, Spri and Tanita.
"Finding the vets has been a matter of contacts. (Company partner) Bill Wagner used to work with Mike Mays at Pro-Health. When we decided to expand to Kansas, Bill contacted Mike who had been out of the industry for a brief period of time. We were able to work out a deal with Mike to have some ownership there. It was the first of the local partner relationships. It proved itself to be a good format for expansion," Hunnings explained.
"Bryant (Stadler) and Todd (Schlepp), of course, had worked with us as employees," he continued. "I met Ray (Barone) when I went up to spend a day at a regional managers meeting for The Fitness Experience. Ray and I stayed in touch after that, and we looked for ways that we could work together. It has taken 18 months, but we have found the right situation for both of us."
A market must look as if it will provide immediate market share and regional managers must feel successful, Hunnings explained.
"Our future growth will come from expansion in our current markets and in new markets. Expansion into new markets will be either with other industry veterans that are looking for a chance at running a market and the chance to have some ownership in the market, or with our own people that develop and are open to relocation," he said.
Building the company to sell it is not the mission, he added, noting the group should number about 10 or 11 stores at year's end. Rather, working his way back into the group of top seven dealers in the country based on sales is the goal.
"It is a big goal," he said, "and it will require a lot of effort by a lot of people, but we are up for it."