The founder and chief executive of the Snap Fitness workout chain and its parent company, Lift Brands, is stepping away from everyday management of the company and its five fitness brands.
Peter Taunton will become nonexecutive chairman of the Lift Brands' board, where he will serve as a strategic adviser, the company said in an announcement Monday.
Lift Brand's chief operating officer, Tom Welter, will take over during a search for a new CEO. The move was described by a company official as part of a planned succession.
Chanhassen-based Lift Brands is the umbrella company that includes Snap Fitness, Steele Fitness, Yoga Fit, Fitness on Demand and the international franchises for 9 Round kickboxing clubs.
"My personal journey has been a remarkable and gratifying one," Taunton said in a statement. "I'm extremely proud of the company's growth and the talented leadership team. Building and handing off a company to capable hands is the dream of every entrepreneur. The future for Lift Brands is incredibly bright."
Taunton founded Snap Fitness in 2003 as a chain of small, no-frills fitness gyms that are open around the clock. With a combination of his own money and investments from private equity, Taunton later acquired existing fitness chains, established franchising models and expanded internationally.
The multiple brands include more than 2,000 franchise locations across 27 countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. About 20 are company-owned and used to test out new concepts.
In 2014, private-equity firm TZP Capital Partners II purchased an undisclosed stake in Snap Fitness from another investment group, Summit Partners, making it the second-largest stakeholder in the company after Taunton.
The new investors said at the time that they aimed to double the company within five years. At the time, Snap operated 2,000 health clubs in 15 countries. All but 15 percent were franchised.
The combined revenue of Snap and Steel Fitness that year was about $500 million, up from $100 million when Summit Partners first invested in 2008.
Taunton's ownership interest, which the company did not disclose, will not change as a result of his decision to move out of direct management, said Caitlin Tvrdik, Lift Brand's marketing director.
Welter, the interim CEO, joined Lift Brands in November 2017. He spent more than seven years at a used-car dealership franchise and almost six years at 24 Hour Fitness, a Snap Fitness competitor.
Lift Brands opened 100 new locations last year, slightly more than previous years, Tvrdik said. The company has spent recent years focused on modernizing the fitness centers to add classes, technology and virtual fitness workouts.
Taunton has a financial stake, along with country music star Tim McGraw, in a music festival at Canterbury Park called the TC Summer Jam, which launched last year.
Taunton plans to devote more time to a charity that provides educational scholarships to children whose parents were killed in military duty, according to a statement. In both 2017 and 2018, McGraw performed at a fundraiser for the charity at Taunton's Lake Minnetonka home.
McGraw also is developing his own fitness brand called TruMav Fitness in conjunction with Snap Fitness, with the first club opening this month in Nashville.