Every month, Club Solutions sits down with an industry expert to share in their wealth of knowledge. In the June issue, the conversation features Marvin Gresse, the assistant general manager of Stone Creek Club & Spa.
1. What was your first job in the health club industry?
I started in the industry at Elmwood Fitness Center in the Sports Performance Training center for high school and college athletes. I was 16 years old, and little did I know that a high school job would lead me to a career path of growing with this industry and learning from so many fine people in our industry.
2. How did you get your start at Stone Creek Club & Spa?
We were asked to look over a new project in the Northshore area. We assisted with design of the club and did the construction administration, building start up, pre-sales, FF&E selection and procurement and startup of the club operations. We took great time and effort to introduce Stone Creek to the community and as our member’s new “Everyday Getaway.”
3. If you had to pick one thing about Stone Creek you’re most proud of, what would that one thing be?
Making a difference – in a few ways – certainly in our community by giving back through raising awareness and fundraising for causes close to us. But we also make a difference daily for our members — when we help a member no longer need blood pressure or diabetes medication because of their efforts at the club. Or we help a member overcome stress or a difficult time in their life through the many facets of the club — exercise, sports, social activities, relaxation.
4. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome, either personally or professionally?
Professionally would be the opening of Stone Creek Club & Spa. We had construction delays and weather hamper the building completion. In addition to the tangible things like ordering furniture, fitness equipment and café items to operate the club, we also had to establish the soft side — marketing, member and employee policies and operating standards.
5. How did you overcome that challenge?
As it was maybe my biggest challenge, I think it was also the biggest triumph and accomplishment for our team. I was hired 18 months before the club opened, and when I look back, we accomplished an immense task and opened one of the finest clubs around. It started with a team of three — and we added an incredible group of managers and front-line staff to fill the club and bring it to life.
6. What is the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever been given?
Be humble and work hard. My mentor, Larry Conner, naturally displays these traits daily. It is contagious. Our team works for the betterment of Stone Creek and our members each day. You can see it and feel it on display as you walk through our club.
7. What’s your favorite part of being in the fitness industry?
The people — co-workers, members and vendors. I have lifelong friendships and connections with fellow team members I work with now, and those I worked with 20-plus years ago and still keep in touch with. I’ve been in their weddings, and watched their children grow.
8. If you weren’t in the position you’re in now, what job do you think you’d be doing?
That’s tough, I truly love this industry. I suppose I would be in the hotel business. It has many similarities and you have the opportunity to interact with people, serve in a hospitality setting and make a difference in their lives.
9. What’s the best leadership book you’ve read?
I really enjoyed “Great by Choice” by Jim Collins. His discussion of rifle shots and cannon balls in business is excellent. We have used it in our business and I’ve seen clubs use it with great success for their next best idea and to save on costly mistakes.
10. What’s a trend you’ve noticed in the industry other operators should pay attention to?
Adaptability. I think we have to be ready to adapt as we see members and environments around us change. The hot buttons right now are still functional training, sports or weekend competition training. We need to be able and ready to make the changes in our club both physically with equipment as well as with our staff and policies of the club.