Inside Track: Bringing a fitness center to the North Side

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 9:33 PM

Tara Watson

North Minneapolis chiropractor Tara Watson, who has operated her own business for nearly a decade, plans to expand through an Anytime Fitness franchise, next-door to her clinic at the rebounding commercial hub of W. Broadway and Penn Avenue N.

Watson will bring America's fastest-growing fitness chain to the North Side, which lacks another adult-fitness facility. Both the Minneapolis YMCA and YWCA, which operate facilities for families and seniors, passed several years ago on plans to build full-service workout facilities in a new development on W. Broadway, which was derailed by the 2008-09 recession.

"This neighborhood needs this, and I own the space," said Watson, who invested $25,000 for the franchise and a lot more to refurbish a once-derelict space. "We'll probably open in February. The rezoning process has taken a lot of time. The Anytime Fitness will be a 24-hour operation with complete workout facilities and equipment, a shower and locker room, group exercise classes, personal trainers and massage therapy. We'll have yoga, zumba, whatever the members want."

Monthly memberships will be around $45, cheaper than most health clubs, and she will hire a manager and up to eight full- and part-time employees.

Just as important, Anytime Fitness spokesman Mark Daly said the company is pleased to be partnering with Watson in the commercial recovery of the Broadway-Penn intersection.

Hastings-based Anytime Fitness, which opened its first club a decade ago in Cambridge, Minn., recently opened its 2,000th unit. In Holland. It took Subway 23 years and McDonald's 32 years to hit that number. Chuck Runyon, Anytime Fitness CEO, said the combination of neighborhood facilities, flexible hours, customized fitness and health and nutrition education has proved a winning combination for franchisees and the company. Anytime operates in 49 states and 12 countries.

Selling shoes in Shanghai

CEO Paul Grangaard of Allen Edmonds Shoes, shown at right above, was peddling Wisconsin-made shoes to Chinese customers last month in Shanghai at the first of what is expected to be several stores in China. Allen Edmonds is majority-owned by a Minneapolis private equity shop, which dispatched Grangaard to Milwaukee with hope, a plan and $10 million in additional capital several years ago to oversee what has been a great turnaround. Edmonds has posted record results and added 250 workers in recent years thanks largely to U.S. and Asian demand for high-end shoes. Red Wing Shoes also has been a beneficiary of the trend. Chinese affluent classes are buying more high-quality American products ranging from Buicks to boots to wingtips, as Patrick Kennedy and I wrote in this recent piece: www.startribune.com/a1937.

Nerdery gets noticed

The Nerdery, which does Web design and other nerd work for hundreds of companies, has added about 300 jobs since the company's former CEO, Luke Bucklin, was killed in a small-aircraft accident two years ago.

The fast-growing, Bloomington-based company recently got great ink in Inc Magazine: The nerds won a "Hire Power Award." The article cited Bucklin's company-wide e-mails reminding everybody that titles aren't that important and everybody should be a business-generating, performance-seeking "co-president." His message stuck. The Nerdery also has been named No. 53 on the "Tech 200" annual ranking for its three-year revenue growth rate of 208 percent.

The company was founded by Bucklin, along with current CEO Mike Derheim and Mike Schmidt, about a decade ago. Bucklin was prophetic in his desire to create a collaborative culture where performance and creativity are valued and rewarded.

SHORT TAKES

The pace of recovery in hiring and job creation since 2008 is stronger in newer firms -- those two years old or younger -- than in more-established companies, according to a recent report by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which studies entrepreneurs and business trends.

Four out of every 10 hires at young firms are for newly created jobs, much higher than in older firms, where the ratio fluctuates between 25 and 33 percent.

Big companies, such as those in the S&P 500 and Bloomberg-Star Tribune 100 index of Minnesota's largest public companies, saw sharply rebounding profitability in 2010 and 2011 with fewer employees, thanks to innovation, increased worker productivity and technology investments. Small-business hiring has increased recently as bank credit finally loosened and consumer demand and spending stared to grow.

Faegre Baker Daniels, the Minneapolis and Indianapolis law firm, ranked eighth out of more than 650 law firms in client service, according to a survey by BTI Consulting Group. The ranking moved Faegre up from 13th among firms serving Fortune 1000 companies. The survey was based on 240 one-on-one interviews with the corporate counsel of law firms' client companies. BTI said companies it interviewed regarding Faegre said the firm's lawyers "know how we operate" and "meet with us regularly and are proactive." Faegre was the only Twin Cities law firm in BTI's top 30.

Law360 has named K. Craig Wildfang, a partner and antitrust litigator at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, as one of the "Competition MVPs of 2012" for his work in the still-being-contested $7.25 billion settlement agreement last summer among Visa, MasterCard and major U.S. banks for alleged anticompetitive practices and price fixing in setting interchange fees. Wildfang once was an antitrust prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144 • nstanthony@startribune.com

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