Andy Gundlach, Anytime Fitness
IB's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Andy Gundlach, a franchisee with Anytime Fitness.
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Business Address: 18 Anytime Fitness locations in southern Wisconsin
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Gina Kiel
Board Membership: Franchise Advisory Council of Anytime Fitness, international organization
Organizations: Chambers of commerce in all the cities where we have Anytime Fitness clubs, such as Sauk Prairie, Mount Horeb, Monona, Middleton, and many more.
Andy, when did you buy into the Anytime Fitness franchise, and what’s your day-to-day role as a franchisee?
I have owned and operated Anytime Fitness clubs in the greater Madison area going on seven years now. I oversee the growth and development of the company, and work on the vision and the direction we are going to go.
You’re not just a franchisee – you own 18. Is that typical?
No. I was awarded the Franchisee of the Year in 2011 and 2012 with Anytime Fitness, internationally.
Was that a career highlight for you?
To be recognized as running the top clubs in the world in an organization of over 2,000 clubs was very satisfying. I am the only person who has earned the award twice. I was also honored to be named an IB 40 Under 40 honoree a few years ago, and our clubs often win awards for best fitness center.
Did you always want to own a business, or was it a progression of being interested in fitness?
I had always wanted to run my own business. I have always had an “entrepreneurial itch” since I was a little kid. My first money earned was when I was about 8 years old. A friend and I picked seeds off a random tree in my backyard and we went door to door trying to sell them. We ended up selling quite a few bags until my father explained to me that they wouldn’t grow!
And the reason you chose to invest in a fitness franchise?
I am happy to say that I have been able to [own a business] in an industry that I have a passion for with Anytime Fitness. One of my main enjoyments and activities that led me to Anytime Fitness is my love of working out. I work out every day, usually at the Anytime Fitness in Monona, since it is the closest to my home.
Having achieved all of that success already, what’s next? What’s your long-term goal now?
To have a measurable impact on the health of our residents in and around Dane County. I was born and raised in the Madison area, and I see so many health problems caused by obesity and inactivity. Our goal every day is to help people with that.
Who has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
Jim Williams, COO of Pizza Hut of Southern Wisconsin. He spotted me when I was 18 and a delivery driver for Pizza Hut in McFarland. He got me into management at Pizza Hut, and continued to mentor me all the way up to director of operations. He instilled in me a “people first” attitude and taught me how to run a business.
It sounds like you had a knowledgeable mentor, and now we’d like to turn the tables and tap into your wisdom. What is your business owner’s assessment of where the economy is going? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
I feel very good about the economy, and I also feel we have been very lucky in Madison and many of the surrounding areas, compared to other parts of the United States. My business began pretty much at the beginning of the recession, and has flourished through it. I was very nervous in 2007 and it really made me be on top of my game every minute of every day. Tough economic conditions can really make you analyze your business and run it tight. You have less room for error, so it can make you a better operator.
How do you keep yourself motivated when it comes to leadership or business skills?
I enjoy reading biographies of successful business owners and entrepreneurs. There are so many takeaways and so much to learn from them and they make very interesting reads about their successes and challenges along the way.
An example of a motivating story?
I really gained a new respect for Steve Jobs reading his biography. He was by no means a perfect man, but his belief and success in doing the impossible really had an effect on me.