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Ep 9: Phil Wendel


Phil Wendel, Owner, Atlantic Coast Athletic Club

Phil Wendel was a high school teacher in 1967 looking to make extra cash when a friend asked him to help chaperone a junior high trip to Washington, DC. That trip spurred an idea that turned into Lakeland Tours and made him a millionaire. It also gave him the bug to dive into another business – opening the first Atlantic Coast Athletic Club in 1984. On this episode of “Gym Class: Heroes of Fitness” Phil joins Hossein and Leigh to talk about medical fitness, entrepreneurship and how he learned that he had to pay attention to his clubs if they were ever going to succeed.

LISTEN to Phil Wendel's episode on iTunes 

"We invest a lot of money in employee growth and we teach customer service. Our orientation of all new employees is rather strict. Even back in my 20's I thought every time I went into a business where I was treated with respect, was the kind of business that I wanted to frequent. That's the service model I wanted to offer. To treat people with respect. For me, that's been a life-long non-negotiable."

        - Phil Wendel on providing first-class customer service at his clubs

Teaching and coaching in Chicago leads to first big business idea providing tours of Washington D.C. - 2:46

Warm weather spurs his company's move from Chicago to Charlottesville - 8:30

Partners with a University of Virginia strength coach to launch the first Atlantic Coast Athletic Club - 10:14

What's the next big thing in fitness? Medical Fitness. - 13:12

Obesity is now considered a disease by the AMA. What it means for club owners - 14:13

A trend in fitness Wendel didn't see coming - 17:08

What workout would you do every day for the rest of your life? - 18:41

Consumer Reports show that it's never too late to get back in shape - 19:41

How to bring in younger people and families to your club - 21:56

Wendel's mentor and luckiest moment - 23:44

How Wendel stopped the ACAC from bleeding cash and got his business right - 27:00

Two pieces of advice for someone starting a new club today - 30:08

The impact of low-cost, high-volume clubs on business - 32:13

How to create a first class customer experience - 34:00

Worst decision running the company - 36:55

Convergence of healthcare, fitness and the internet for millenials - 40:28

Word association - 44:24

<Next Episode: Randy Hetrick >>

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