The Sam’s Fitness Story
Well it all started in 2004 when my wife and I got sick of waiting for equipment at our local gym. It was crowded at 6 am when it opened!
So it was time to set up a home gym. I wasn’t happy with what was offered locally, it was either really expensive, very flimsy or in some cases both. So if you think gym equipment is expensive now, trust me it is not.
My next step was to jump on the internet. The minute I saw both the Powertec and Ironmaster products I fell in love – they were well designed and heavy duty. You just couldn’t get them in Australia.
I made my mind up there and then that I was going to bring the products into Australia. I quit my job and become the Australian distributor for both Powertec and Ironmaster. It didn’t matter that I had no experience, warehouse or website. I made up for this with my genuine passion for training.
We started out in very humble beginnings at St Peters in Sydney. It was the worse place to sell gym equipment from, but it was cheap! The premises had a steep incline path the whole way up. So every box was moved by hand on an upright trolley. There was no pallet racking or forklift so all boxes were hand stacked by me. It was brutal!
But it didn’t matter that the place was old or I had no idea about selling. The Powertec and Ironmaster Equipment just sold itself! So we needed to expand.
The next place was a bit better, but still in the old complex at St Peters. We now had a forklift and pallet racking, but it was still a nightmare getting stuff in and out of the place.
I got tired of doing the heavy lifting so we got my old mate Matt “Trunk” Grimshaw in to help. Matt and I have been mates since kindergarten, so I had someone who I could trust to provide the same level of service and passion that had built the business. Go through our many reviews and you will hear all and sundry singing his praises.
Now that Matt was onboard we were in a position to really move forward. So it wasn’t long before we were bursting at the seams and needed to move again. Now it was time to get fair dinkum and moved to a proper warehouse at Banksmeadow.
We had over 700 sq meters now and thought we would be there for years. Especially when the Global Financial Crisis hit. But the tougher times got, more people bought Powertec and Ironmaster. Why? When you are worried about money, you want great value.
Just when we thought nothing could slow us down, Alison and I decided to have kids! Like any newborns Jacob was a handful, but as you can see he slotted in to the weight training business no problems.
Just as we getting on top of things, we decided to go again. This time we had twins! Now we had our hands full – 3 kids under 2 years old! After a very challenging start, Claire and Chelsea have both grown into health and happy girls.
Around the time the girls came along I started to get more involved with Powertec and offering suggestions to improve products and develop new ones. I was lucky enough to go to their factory in Shanghai in 2010.
This was a great trip. I was treated like family and got to see that the Leewards group, of which Powertec is a division, shared a lot of the same values as I did. The factory was way better than I had imagined after hearing horror stories about Chinese factories.
Even though I couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin, a happy smile and an enthusiasm for our work, was all we needed to have a good time!
After the factory visit, Leewards asked if I would like to become the distributor for their new Sportek range of inflatable boats and kayaks. At that time we were going through a terrible time with our twins having a few health issues. So expansion was the last thing on my mind. But I never say no to a challenge and we took it on board.
Now with this new area of business, we started to plan to expand our warehousing. A bigger warehouse in our complex came up and we grabbed it. As you can see we have come a long way!
Once we fully fill it, the new warehouse will have double the capacity of our first Banksmeadow location. It is probably 50 times bigger than the first place at St Peters.
When reviewing our new website, I thought I might update the story. In April 2013, I travelled to FIBO in Germany to work on the Powertec booth. Wandering around the expo I got to check out the Barbarian Line by IFS. At the time IFS was the German importer of Powertec, so I was familiar with the Barbarian Line. Martin, the owner, probably thought I was a little wierd because I spent over an hour going over the handful of machines on display.
We had been looking to expand our range for a long time, and after checking out these machines I knew that I had found exactly what I was looking for.
So in October 2013 I headed back over to check out the full range and we became the Barbarian Line distributor in Australia.
This created a problem. I mentioned above that we had not fully fit out our warehouse. Well we had completed that at the start of 2014. Before completing I knew we would be tight on space. So reluctantly we decided to put the inflatables business on hold. The gym equipment business was booming and I simply did not have time to move warehouses again.
Plus it is allowing us to better focus on selling just quality gym equipment – we have a new range, more equipment on display and a new website to showcase it all.
Wow what a ride! As we put the finishing touches on our new website I thought I would add to the story, especially given all that has gone on in the last few years.
My kids will all be in high school next year, and you may see them after school or on weekends giving Dad a hand so they can partially offset the money they now spend! My son and his mate Sean are training 4 to 5 times a week. The girls are traing a bit, but between netball, oz tag, dancing, aerial and swimming they don’t have much time.
Seeing our kids work and train in the business has made all the long hours and stress of the business worthwhile. Having a work ethic and passion for traing of any form will take them a long way in life.
Sadly we parted ways with Powertec. It was a tough decision as I had given some of the best years of my life to that company, but one I had to make. Prior to covid, their products simply did not sell at the price I needed to make money. This had been an issue that I had been trying to work through for years but one they could not address.
On the flip side IFS has gone from strength to strength. IFS rebranded their Megatec and Barbarian ranges all under the ATX banner. The ATX brand is now recognised as a leading brand worldwide and their innovation is next level. The range is massive and we will aim to offer it at the best price possible so that more people can get their hands on quality gym equipment.
No update would be complete without touching upon covid. It has changed so much in our business and the industry. For me the most important part was that you got to see people’s true colours…….
Every website you read or business you speak to will tell you how much they love their customers and that they always have your best interests at heart. Covid presented an opportunity where you could make a lot of money off desperate people. Whether or not you satisfied that customer was a gamble at the time.
We decided to sit this out. I couldn’t guarantee when customers would get their items or if at all – it was the first global pandemic in this technological age so I had no clue what would happen. For all I knew, the global economy could grind to a hault and people would need money for food, not gym equipment.
We copped some flack from our response to covid and a missed out on a lot of business. But it was so heartening to hear from people who shared the same beliefs that making sure we looked after each other and got through the pandemic was more important than gym equipment.
We were so much luckier than other small businesses like gyms and personal trainers, but our stance on covid has had an impact on our business. For the last 2 years we have been struggling to get stock – since we only sell the good stuff it became hot property and Australia’s small market gets pushed to the end of the queue.
For the last two years we have closed the showroom (what we have set up wasn’t in stock) or even had the phones on (we were answering emails all day about stock that we didn’t have). Long term customers who previously called or came into the showroom know we like to have a chat, so it has been tough and we all miss that part of our work. But my aim during this whole saga has been to get through covid and come out stronger on the other side.
Despite being on the brink of World War 3, I am confident that things are starting to get back to normal. Stock is starting to become available. The main challenge now is keeping a lid on costs, which I feel that we are best equipped to handle. As an old accountant and tight ass, you can rest assured that there are no unnecessary overheads, and you will always get the best deal on quality equipment.
The reason I have gone into such detail, giving you a blow by blow description, is to show you who we are and what we have achieved. We sell direct to customers because it enables us to give you a better product, at a better price with better service. The internet has made this possible.
Sadly though, a lot of other fitness equipment suppliers have taken advantage of the internet and made outrageous claims about their equipment online. Covid attracted new entrants all keen to get rich quick. They were selling items that they had never seen in their lives, but yet claiming they were the best products. Online reviews during the covid period tell the other side of this story.
The bottom line is that everyone is the biggest and the best on the net.
We do not claim to be the biggest, but we do our best to give the best equipment, price and service.
Although this is a business and we need to make money, I hope my story tells you that this business more than just dollars and cents. Weight training has so many positives. It has been a powerful force in my life and something that I want to share. It is not a fad and requires long term committment, but well worth the reward. I have seen it change so many lives which has been so rewarding.
If you are thinking about getting into weight training don’t hesitate for another day. You don’t need fancy equipment you just need the desire to make yourself into a better person. I can guarantee that you will not regret it.