When Jon Stevenson was in high school, he needed a job to make ends meet.
"I got involved in fixing fitness equipment for Richard Mercer, owner of Super Store Exercise Equipment," Jon says. "To boil it down, a nice old man took pity on a kid."
It's a high school job that has continued to pay off. With his brother, Clark, Jon now owns the Memphis-based Treadmill Doctor, the largest fitness-equipment service company in the nation.
"We decided to start [Treadmill Doctor] in 1998 as a result of going back to graduate school," Clark says. "Both Jon and I had worked in fitness assembly, repair, and sales. It was a natural fit to do something that we didn't need additional training to do well."
The company, which repairs commercial and home fitness equipment, grossed more than $2.5 million for each of the past two years.
"We have a 70 percent growth rate in our sales year over year," Jon says.
For 2009, they've already grossed about $6 million.
"The growth of the company was completely a surprise," Clark says. "And it was a result of putting up a website where people could get answers to commonly asked questions."
On the site's forum, customers can ask questions about servicing equipment, which has led to requests for parts and supplies.
"You try to identify products and services that have a good potential for high-gross margin and then work really hard to control your expenses," Jon says. "If you do it okay, you end up with Treadmill Doctor."
Repairs are performed either in the company's offices or at the client's property. The company has six locations scattered throughout the South and Midwest, including St. Louis, Atlanta, and Nashville. They plan to open an office in Boston by the end of the year and hope to open locations in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami in 2010.
"Our five-year plan has us continuing to grow the parts business with a strong focus on expanding our remote repair operations," Clark says. "We hope to have a geographic representation in the entire continental United States, as well as offices in Canada and Asia."