Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm Back...

Not a single post since December?? Ouch! I'm back though with plenty to share. We've had an exciting year (good but also tough) that I'll get up to date on.

In the meantime, our biggest news is that we are expecting another baby at the end of July! This one is a little boy and we are going to name him Austin. With the girls out of town this weekend, looks like I'm doing nursery work!

I'll be sure to post more current pics up soon. Stay in touch!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All is good...

Sorry for the lack of posts. Be looking for a Halloween and Thansgiving recap this week with new pics of Riley. Until then...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Post Ike

Hurricaine Ike has come and gone and things around Houston are almost back to normal. It's crazy how a storm that drives through in about 4 or 5 hours can bring the 4th largest city in the country to it's knees for a short time. September turned into a wild month to say the least.

I'll start with the most important things...Leigh, Riley, the animals, and myself were fine. We spent part of the night in our "storm room", which was our utility room. The storm room was pretty quiet, but whenever we stepped out, we were reminded how big this storm really was. It was a little scary seeing the trees behind the house bending over like rubber. Our house was definitely making noises I had never heard before. Luckily, after it all had past, the extent of our damage was a bent over fence. I'd say the majority of the damage in our neighborhood was fences down and lots and lots of trees!

Unfortunately, Leigh's office didn't fare so well. Her company's office is on the top floor of an 11 story building and the roof was severly damaged. Basically, water poured in all night leaving the entire office with standing water. All desks, computers, and everthing else you can imagine was completely ruined! The gym on the other hand came out ok. We had a couple minor leaks in the roof, but nothing major thankfully.

Of course the biggest inconvenience for the entire city was the lack of electricity. We lost power around midnight on the night of the storm...just about the time the winds were starting to pick up and the house was starting to creak. I decided to go ahead and wake Leigh up and move us all into the storm room at that time. Luckily the TV stations were being broadcasted on local radio stations, so we were able to listen to what was happening and knew when the worst was about to hit. Like I mentioned before, it was pretty impressive to hear mother nature, but I'm not sure I want to ride out a much stronger of a storm. That was a high 2/low 3 level storm...I can't even imagine what a 5 could do!

About 7:30am, my neighbor Mike and I decided to take a drive around and check out the damage. Again, it was mostly fences and trees, but you would have thought a bomb went off in some of the more wooded parts of Sienna...trees down everywhere, blocking roads and sidewalks. Luckily though, there wasn't a lot of home damage.

So without power, what do you do all day?? Pretty easy answer...if you are a kid you play ALL day, and if you are an adult you eat and drink heavily almost ALL day! I may be in the minority on this, but we actually had a really good time for the 6 days we were without power. The first couple days was like an outdoor bbq that wouldn't end with all the neighbors. Anything that was in the process of thawing got grilled and consumed. It was a lot of fun getting to know some of the neighbors better and just relaxing a little. Nobody could work so you tried not to really worry about that for a few days and not being a slave to the Tivo was very refreshing. Luckily though, what made all of this bearable was the fact that a nice cool front came through the day after the storm...which dropped the temps down below 60 at night and really dried out the humidity in the air! Without that, the nights would have been brutal, but with the windows open it was cooler than what we typically keep our AC. We even camped out in the neighbors back yard one night. It was probably a little alcohol induced and the wives loved it I'm sure, but Mike and I thought it was a great idea....which it was!! We all got a good night's sleep.

One of the worst things initially was the lack of cell phone service. We couldn't text or call out unless you stood in one little spot in the driveway and got very lucky for about a minute. However, in our neighborhood, there is an overpass that goes over the railroad tracks and it quickly got the name "cell phone hill"...and for good reason. It was the highest point in the area and you could get a signal up there. So for 24 hours a day there were cars on the hill making calls. I never experienced it, but Leigh and Adria frequented the hill.

After a couple trips into town for ice and groceries, I quickly realized that I would just rather stay in our bubble in Sienna Plantation. There was way too much chaos and panic out there...stressed me out. A few of the resteraunts opened in the first few days after the storm but they were only serving limited menus, and fast food places were only open through the drive-up. Although we never needed to refuel during that week, gas did become an issue for many and the lines at the stations were LONG! I'm glad we never sat through that.

So for about 5 days, we really did have a good time in the neighborhood. It's a little sad sometimes to think that it takes a storm like that to bring everyone out of their homes to get to know each other better. I wouldn't wish a hurricaine on anyone, but I'm happy that we were able to pull some good from a bad situation. By day 6, the lack of electricity was starting to get very old. Mike even commented as we began to grill out back that night that he thought the group was at our lowest point. Then less than an hour later, the lights came back on!!! There was cheering in the streets...literally! So what did we do to celebrate...sat outside and got through a few more bottles of wine. Who needs the indoors and electricity???

Sunday, August 17, 2008

6 Week Update

I can't believe it, but the gym has already been open for 6 full weeks. In a nutshell, it's been a pretty good month and a half. The more I learn from reading and talking with others in the industry, the more I understand that's it's just hard to sell a lot of health and fitness club memberships in the summer time...especially July. Familes are on vacation, parents are taking care of kids, and in most of the country the outdoor activity level of course rises in the summer. One franchisee said selling memberships in the summer is like selling ice to eskimos.

So given that, I'd still say it's been successfull to date. At a high level, the number of memberships is a little less that what I was hoping for, but revenues exceeded my early goals. So at the end of the day, business is good. I didn't have that big rush of people as soon as the doors opened or anything like that, but it's been nice and steady. I think there's only been 1 or 2 days total when we didn't sign a single person up.

Following summer, sales usually pick up in this industry beginning in September. Fall is the second busiest part of the year. Once kids are back at school, memberships typically increase quite a bit, but it's January and February when sales are the highest. So many people want to get the new year off to a good start and they set new year's resolutions.

Other than the gym, we're all good. Leigh and Riley were able to take a week trip to Colorado to visit her parents. Unfortunately, I stayed and worked the whole time. Running the business has taken a lot of my time, but it's been fun...doesn't feel so much like work. Riley is growing up so fast it seems! She'll be going to Kid's Academy a couple days a week starting soon. We hated pulling her out of daycare last summer, so we're looking forward to her being able to meet and play with more kids in the neighborhood again. I'll get some updated pics up here soon...

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Doors Open & Another Closes

Well, it's been an eventful few weeks to say the very least. As I posted before, the first of three fitness clubs is now open for business and that's consumed a lot of my time as of late. Thankfully, Leigh has been amazing during this time and supporting this experiment 100%. I know it's put a burden on her having to take care of Riley by herself a lot lately, but she rarely complains, and I couldn't even come close to doing this without her.

Another part of all this that has been difficult has been maintaining my consulting job. In the planning stages, I was able to do all the paperwork and communications in the evening...rarely taking me away from my day job. However, once the club opened, I felt a little overwhelmed. Luckily I had vacation scheduled for a few weeks to help get things up and running.

Unfortunatley, a couple weeks ago we got word that Capital H Group had decided to close down the Houston office. We're based out of Chicago with office is NY, LA, Boston, Millwaukee, London, and a few more across the globe. Capital H has been fortunate to have over $75 million in venture capital, but that also puts certain pressures on companies. We've grown at least 20% in each of the last few years, but the rate of growth hasn't been quite where they'd like to see it. We purchased a leadership development company out of London last year for a large sum of money which helps us from a growth perspective, but it also eats up a lot of capital. So anyway, it appears that they are trying to position the company to be sold, and to do that have trimmed up by reducing a lot of the consulting offerings we currently help clients with. In doing so, it really eliminated a lot of what we do in LA, Boston, and unfortunately Houston. So as of now, I'm not a full time employee, but I am finishing a couple things on a contract basis...which isn't a bad deal.

I really do have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, it's a good salary that was taken away, but on the other hand, it gives me an opportunity to focus on making the gym successful....which is what I want to do. The hard part is the financial aspects of it. Because I'm opening 3, I wasn't planning on taking a salary for quite a while...keeping the money in the business.

With that said, I'm in a decent spot right now. Two of my co-workers at Capital H Group already hooked up with a new company and are responsible for making a presence and building up a business in Houston. It's same type of work we do now, but with a slightly different business model creating a great opportunity to get the business going in a hurry. While they do that, I'm going to help out on a contract basis which will allow me to continue to focus on the gym, but have some income coming in...which is fine with me because there's some good money in contract work. If they are able to get things going in Houston, there's a chance I could join them full-time if it makes sense on both sides. That would be down the road a ways so I'm not thinking too much about it right now. Either way, I feel pretty good with where I am at the moment. A little nervous for sure, but confident and excited at the same time.

It's weird how the doors in life open and close. You just have to hope the timing is right, and believe me, that's what I'm praying for right now. Thanks for all the support I've already gotten from a lot of you already!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our New Adventure

Well, I've intentionally held off on blogging about this, but I think it's finally time. As of last February, Leigh and I are now small business owners. We bought the franchise rights to open 3 fitness facilities in Houston area, and the gym is called Snap Fitness. As many of you know, the fitness industry has always been one of my passions. That doesn't mean I've always kept myself in the greatest shape, but I've always enjoyed working out and studying about health and nutrition.

Back in the early 90's, a new fitness center opened up in my hometown of was and is still called LiveWell. Since that gym opened, I've always been intrigued by the idea of owning one myself one day. My Mom even remembers me talking about that in high school. However, until now, I had absolutely no idea how to even begin down that career path. Gyms are big, they are expensive, and typically it takes a lot of people to make decent money. Combine that with the fact that I'm moderately risk averse, it just seemed like something that sounded cool, but not very realistic. Since college, I knew that it some point I wanted to something on my own, but I wasn't exactly sure what that would be, or when I would do it. As each year went by I always decided it just wasn't the right time. It took me a while to figure out that there will never be the perfect time to take a risk and do something for myself.

So back in December, you may remember that I won a trip out to California with a supplement company I had been doing business with since their inception....Isatori is the name of the company. Leigh and I flew out to Santa Monica, CA, stayed a couple nights on the beach, , spent some time with the CEO of the company, and worked out with a very successful trainer at Gold Gym - Venice Beach (The Mecca). For whatever reason, that trip sort of lit a fire under me and got me thinking about gyms again. The holidays were shortly after that trip and I spent some time researching different gyms and types of gyms. The one that kept popping up was Snap Fitness. After a couple of months of research, talking with other franchisees, and lots of prayer, we decided to pull the trigger and take a chance.

So here we are 5 months later and gym #1 is open for business!! Snap is a little different concept than the big box gyms. The entire model is based on research regarding what it is that customers value most in a fitness club. The top 3 things are convenience, quality equipment, and a clean club. So what Snap does is try to put these smaller clubs as close and deep into neighborhoods as we can get. 90% of the members will come from within 2 miles of the club, so convenience is definitely one the biggest selling points. We stock the gyms with Cybex equipment, which is as good as you can buy in my opinion. Research also shows that more than 80% of members strictly use strength and cardio equipment...not the pool, the rock wall, etc.. So that's what we offer, phenominal strength and cardio equipment. Another differentiator is that we are open 24/7 allowing people to work out when they want. That doesn't mean there is someone working 24/7, but the club is open to the members all day and every day. We also don't lock members into as you go month-to-month. You have an option of pre-paying for discounted rates, but no long-term contracts.

We've been open a few days now and signed up a few members already. The grand opening isn't for another couple weeks when the mass marketing goes out, so this is a good start. Anyway, check us out at

Here's a few more pics...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Civic Duty

Well, between work and our other project (I'll explain later), it's been really busy for us lately. Hence the lack of posts on the blog. I promise we'll get back to some consistency soon. So with that said, when I got a jury summons in the mail a few weeks back, I sort of looked at it like an inconvenience with my schedule. Too much going on already, now I have to spend a few h0urs down at the Fort Bend County Courthouse (Tues 5/6). I moved some meeting schedues around for that Tuesday, but it never occurred to me that I could actually get chosen to serve on a jury. It seems like most people I know get called down and then released.

So I show up that morning to a room full of over 500 people...including former Rocket great Moses Malone. After some words from a judge and a short video, they then call about 50 people, including mysef at #13. They walk us over to the courthouse, take us into the courtroom, and prepare us for questioning from the attorneys. I had never gotten this far in the process, so it was all new to me. Basically they ask some questions, the lawyers make their "strikes" of who they do not want, then take the first 12 remaining to make up the jury for the case. As #13 in the line of 50, I realized that my chances of getting selected were pretty high....and that's exactly how it played out. The judge explains the process and a brief description of the case and tells us it will probably last 4 days!!! So their went the rest of my week.

While highly inconvenient, the case and the experience turned out to be pretty interesting. In a nutshell, the Missouri City Little League was hosting their annual fund raiser gala at the Quail Valley Country Club (very close to Sienna actually) back in May of 2003. It's an adult only event which includes dinner, drinks, silent auction, etc... In addition, they always have a theme to the party, and this year it happened to be Urban Cowboy. Of course, you can't have an Urban Cowboy theme without a mechanical bull right? So they hired Bull Power, Inc from Dallas to come down and operate a bull for the party. About 5 hours in, a man rides the bull, gets thrown off, and the bull comes down (or spun back around), and hit the guy it the head. This causes his neck to bend downward and left him paralyzed on the mat. After 4 days without much movement, he did have surgery and eventually regained movement in all parts of his body. This was a civil suit in which the man that was injured was suing the Bull Power, Inc company as well as the Quail Valley Country Club for a total of $1.7 million. The reason the club was included in the suit is because people allegedly saw the bull operator drinking beer, which was being supplied by the club.

I'll save you all the details of the testimony and drastic differences that we heard from each side throughout the 4 day trial. In the end, there just wasn't enough evidence to hold anyone accountable for what happened that night. Basically, we decided it was an unfortunate accident that occurred. Like I mentioned, it was inconvenient, but I actually enjoyed the experience and seeing the justice system in action.