23 Dec Episode #305: Erick Donaldson, 99 Bxng, Owner
Pete Moore: This is Pete Moore on halo talks NYC on location Dallas. Finally, in person bringing you Eric Donaldson, Tulsa, Oklahoma. We’re going to talk about boxing. We’re going to talk about being an entrepreneur. We’re going to talk about fighting through a pandemic and coming out the other side. So welcome to the show.
Erick Donaldson: Thank you. Glad to be here. It’s an honor
Pete Moore: Give us a little background from Detroit, how you got to Tulsa, how you got into the industry and we’ll riff from there.
Erick Donaldson: Yeah, for sure. So actually my parents moved me to Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was 16 years old. They moved to Tulsa to go to ministry school. So I was kicking and screaming all the way down to Tulsa.
Pete Moore: Sure. Leave it leaving in high school is not like the easiest for transition
Erick Donaldson: Junior in high school. Oh, wow. So that was pretty tough for me. But went to school there. I was a baseball player. Got a scholarship to oral Roberts university. Oh, nice. Congrats what position you play? Center field. Oh, wow. Center field
Pete Moore: Got wheels. I used to play catcher so I didn’t have to run. Oh
Erick Donaldson: Yeah. I was a little speedster back then. Nice. So that’s back in thousand. I played for a couple years there. Went free agent. Didn’t get drafted to Pensacola pelicans in Pensacola, Florida played there a few years. Wow. So I never thought I’d do anything besides play baseball. Of course, every athlete’s dream. Right. so
Pete Moore: I’m still undrafted as I tell people,
Erick Donaldson: Right. Same here. So went back the school to finish my degree. Okay. at or Roberts at ORU took my first job out of college in Dallas, Texas was a general contractor for a little while realized that that wasn’t for me went to Allstate school, started an Allstate agency realized, you know, that wasn’t for me and I’ve always enjoyed working out. So I was in a basketball league in Dallas and we were making a playoff playing with a bunch of D league basketball players. And I tear my Achilles. Oh, so I’m outta work. I’m I can’t walk for six months now. I’m thinking, what am I going to do? It’s a rough one. So after physical therapy, getting back on my feet, I found a, a gym to work out in a boxing club. And I thought, man, I, I really enjoyed it. So I kind of found, fell in love with boxing.
Pete Moore: You, I actually realize that there’s a profession that you get paid, right. To do something you like, you enjoy
Erick Donaldson: Doing it. Right. I didn’t actually want to fight, you know, I just enjoy the workout and thought man, many people, you know, enjoy this as well. Yeah. You know, so I moved back to Tulsa and started, you know, the same boxing club. I worked out there for a while, ended up buying the club and then rebrand. Gotcha.
Pete Moore: So when you took a look at how long did to take you to understand that, Hey, yeah, I, I could run this business or, or what gave you that confidence or how long did you kind of hang around the hoop and say, right, I get this now.
Erick Donaldson: Yeah. I, I worked out there for maybe a year or so and thought, man, I, I really enjoy the industry. Enjoy the people. You know, I thought this is something that is a good fit for me. So it didn’t take long. I was always had the entrepreneurial spirit. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, you know, I went through multiple businesses, you know, from owning the trucking business, to being a freight broker to, you know, I’ve done quite a bit of, of stuff. Just because I had the entrepreneurial bug just wanted to try everything,
Pete Moore: You know? Well, this not easily eradicated from the body. I think once you get it, it’s kind of a, it’s a long term disease or a long term superpower. Whichever which one you, whichever one you decide, I think is the superpower actually, for sure. So what are some of the things when you started that you were like, oh wow. Like this is harder than I thought it was. Or, you know, I got to put my sales and marketing cap on. And what, what are some of the things that struck you as like, about this business that you said, okay. Hmm. You know, I got to, I got to learn this really quick.
Erick Donaldson: Yeah. So I, so I, I came into it fresh not knowing anything about the fitness industry. I didn’t know the flows, the seasons, you know, the ups and downs of financially. And then just dealing with the people trainers are different breed. Yep. If you’ve been the industry, you, you know, for sure what I’m talking about. So really just learning the trainer’s mindset, you know, they’re really entrepreneurial as well, you know, so learning how to, to manage, manage that in the gym is, is big. Plus, do
Pete Moore: You think over the last, you know, 18 months when you’re going through the pandemic I’m assuming Oklahoma had a reasonable, you know, pro-business stance. Did you see a number of your trainers kind of going on Instagram and going on Facebook live and going direct. And how do you think about now kind of the relationship that you have with your member versus the relationship they have with one of the trainers that work for you and how do you think about that evolving over time? <Affirmative>
Erick Donaldson: Yeah, so the, the trainers, they definitely found a niche online. Yeah. You know, they carved out a niche from, you know, one on one training, people inviting them, you know, to do personal training at the house or anything that, you know, during the pandemic, since the gym was closed down for quite a bit, you know, they had time to, you know, be able to clientele up. But one thing I think they learned it is that it’s a business mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, it’s complete business, you got to market, you know, you got to do all the things that a businessman would do. You know? So having that foundation, your box location, you know, only helps them only benefits them because, you know, we’re, we’re drawing people, you know, every day into the club, you know, to put in front of them. So. Right.
Pete Moore: Yeah. I think some people underestimate the relationship that someone has with the location versus the relationship they have with a trainer. And if that is portable or not, and like who, who really owns the, the relationship, ideally, it’s almost like co-owned right by the, the personal trainer and that personal trainer is well paid, incentivized and aligned with you as the owner. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> to the point where, Hey, look, you’re not trying to take this member, you know, and, and, and train them on your own. Right. And I’m not trying to dis intermediate you from that relationship. I’m like trust thing that you’re going to be a conduit and a, a force in the relationship and not a an obstacle to it. So, so as you think about adding new locations I know you’re thinking about doing a, a, a growth equity raise right now. What’s giving you the confidence to say, Hey, look, this, this location I have right now, this thing could run without me physically there a hundred percent of the time.
Erick Donaldson: Yeah. I totally am an advocate for trainers. You know, I believe in their, their spirit, their entrepreneurial spirits. And I treat, ’em just like, they’re, you know, NBA draft picks or, you know, major league baseball players. That’s, I’m just the owner, you know, giving them that platform. And that’s what I want to do. I mean, I think if you have that mindset and not try to control your, your people, I think you’ll, you’ll be successful and you know, less stressful. So I’m really confident. And right now trainers are the new, you know, marketing marketers, you know, they’re in they’re influencers on Instagram, you know, they, they are becoming that business, you know, but when they have the backing, you know, of an actual location, it only elevates them.