How did we get here? Let's look back at the last 7 years of KAWness.
Certainly it does not seem like 7 years, and yet it seems like it has been a lifetime. So much has happened both in my personal life and in my business life. From the humble start that Amy Bradley and I conceived way back in 2013 as we met at Shawarma King Buffet, to the trendy jam packed Sports Massage Center we see today. It was an adventure to be sure. I'll take some time here to reflect on the more important bits and probably get misty eyed as I do.
2013- We open in September of 2013 with 4 therapists total and average about 8 clients a week. We also begin proudly working with WMU Football. I have a newborn daughter at home and have to juggle being a stay-at-home dad during the day and running a new business in the evenings.
2014- We have our first major sponsorship as we work with the Kalamazoo Growlers in their inaugural season. Later this year we also begin our relationship with the Kalamazoo Area Runners.
2015- This year was a struggle for KAW financially. Amy stepped down as co-owner at the beginning of the year and in May left to pursue a career with Stryker. My wife and I welcome our son in August. We also picked up Alicia Hileski who has been a rock in our organization and would later be promoted to Assistant Manager! We ended the year losing money after 2 years of minimal profits.
2016- The year of efforts realized! Early in the year I meet with Bonnie Gildea, the owner of SolSpring, over dinner at Erbelli's. She tells me she wants to sell SolSpring and that she keeps thinking of me as the perfect fit. I graciously accept the opportunity, and we get to work. By June 2016 SolSpring is merged with KAW, and we pick-up our Workplace Wellness division and a second location at the Bronson Athletic Club. We also absorb an amazing staff of therapists including Christine Anderson and Jillian Strobel and now have 12 LMTs! Christine was our Office Manager through this transition and worked hard to also get us to where we are today. She left to pursue her own business in 2019, and I am so excited for her. Jillian stepped up into a version of her current role and has been the face of our Workplace Wellness division since! That fall at WMU Football, we had our magical undefeated season and went to the Cotton Bowl. I cried with pride after the MAC Championship win. The rest of this year is one of our highest grossing profit years ever, and things are looking great!
2017- I find out in March that Bronson wants to switch from contracting our services to hiring and running their own massage division for the athletic club. By May we have been consolidated into the Turwill location and dropped 6 therapists. This event feels like a big step backwards as we lose about 50% of our revenue. I decide to take a gamble and invest what money we had saved to remodel the office, revamp our promotional materials, and push ourselves to the next level. We remain steady at the Turwill office and stay alive!
2018- The year of growth. This year I begin to have deeper talks with Dr. Antoniotti and others about a combined services relationship, and we begin talks on a larger facility. We also introduce our Membership option in March to replace a less than popular prepay discount. The memberships prove to be an immediate success both for clients and cash-flow! Eventually the concept of a much larger facility is abandoned and Dr. Antoniotti and I begin talks about us moving into the suite next door with the previous tenants' lease due to be done. This was also the year that Linda Elstun won her Bronze medal at the CrossFit Games. This was the second year that I traveled to the games with her and was frankly a wonderful surprise as she had qualified outside of the top ten. By year's end we have nearly doubled our monthly revenue compared to the start of the year!
2019- We announce our expansion into the new facility with Antoniotti Chiropractic and, despite some unforeseen delays, we are able to move in late March and re-open in early April. We have a major re-opening celebration involving WMU Football players and a raffle supporting WMU Athletics. Our new facility doubles our capacity for massage, has enough room in the lobby for us to create a members lounge, and we can now sell retail products in our new Wellness Store! We also hire 7 new staff members, 4 new therapists and 3 front desk staff. Just 2 weeks after re-opening my Mother, Susan Belt, passes away in her sleep from heart failure. She worked for KAW at the front desk for about a year between 2017-2018, and many of you may have met her. She was spunky and free spirited. She was annoyingly proud of me, and I will miss her always! In August I go with Linda to the CrossFit Games again, this year comfortably winning a Silver medal! She ranks as the most fit 55-59 year old woman in America! Toward the end of this year we introduce our online Wellness Store to a pretty uneventful start. Overall our new cohesive relationship with Antoniotti is off to a fantastic start and I am feeling very confident in 2020...
2020- Well here we are. You get the scenario here, 2020 is, for all incense and porpoises, a train wreck. Right now, I write this from home as I juggle running a much more demanding business than in 2013, while also assisting my kids with their virtual learning. However, there is a shining light at the end of the tunnel! Thanks primarily to our dedicated members who continued their dues, and secondly to some governmental action to help save small businesses, we have survived! Just 2 days ago I found out we received a grant approved by Gov. Whitmer as part of the Small Business Restart program! The community support in our reopening has also been overwhelming! We expected a very slow rebuilding for the last half of 2020. What we got was clients clambering to get in for their much needed human contact in a safe and controlled environment. I am so proud of our staff and the culture we have created as a business. I look forward to what the next several years bring!
Nicholas Garman, LMT NSCA-CPT
|Kalamazoo Athletic Wellness||
tHE kaw bLOG