What is in this article?:
Rick Caro, president of fitness industry consulting firm Management Vision, is the recipient of the 2006 Club Industry Lifetime Achievement Award.
Why the Cowboy Hat?
Those who have been around the industry for awhile probably recall Rick Caro's black cowboy hat with the blue feathers. He used to wear it to certain IHRSA events. Why would a boy from New York City wear a cowboy hat? Sentimental reasons, it turns out.
Caro had long admired the cowboy hat worn by fellow IHRSA board member and Boise, ID, club owner Bob Peterson. When Caro left his first term as president of IHRSA, the board members chipped in and bought Caro the black Resistol cowboy hat.
“It meant so much to me emotionally that I've worn it to many IHRSA events as a symbol of what the early days of IHRSA meant,” Caro says, adding, “My wife doesn't feel that I need to wear it a lot in New York City.”
And then there is the pair of leopard-print tights he was spotted in once…but if you want to know that story, it's better left to Caro to explain. Just suffice it to say, it had to do with being a “good team player and not knowing how to say no,” Caro says.
Sidebar: Wedding Stories
More than 100 people from the industry (out of 300 guests) attended the wedding of Rick Caro and Sue Denison, who is an executive recruiter in the media and entertainment industry. Few people turned down the invitation to be at the ceremony.
“They wanted to be witness to the fact that I was actually able to ‘close the deal,’” Caro says.
Rudy Guiliani, former mayor of New York and Caro's friend of 30 years, officiated at the wedding, which was held at Tavern on the Green in Central Park just six weeks prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
When Caro visited Guiliani at city hall prior to the wedding to review the ceremony with him, Guiliani closed his door and asked Caro if he really wanted to get married.
“He said ‘If it doesn't work out, do you have an exit strategy?’ I said, ‘Rudy, I'm trying to have an entry strategy’ because before then I hadn't had one,” Caro laughs.
On the morning of the ceremony, the couple practiced putting on the rings but found that Denison's band wouldn't go over her finger. A jeweler friend suggested that spraying Windex on the finger would help, which it did. Prior to the wedding, Caro handed a bottle of Windex to his best man to hold onto during the ceremony, explaining to him and Guiliani, who was in the room at the time, the contents of the bottle and its possible role in the ceremony.
The Windex wasn't needed, but the possibility of its use resulted in a photo of Guiliani leaning in with his head almost on the rings waiting to see if it would be needed.
“He was so disappointed that I didn't have to use the bottle,” Caro says.
Sidebar: Secrets Only Caro's Friends Know
Rick Caro isn't that comfortable using a computer. He often hand writes his correspondence and someone else in the office types it into e-mail and sends it. At the end of the day, he gets print outs of all the e-mails that have come to him. But, says Norm Cates, publisher of Club Insider, “He's good at using the fax machine.”
Coming to his defense, Brian McBain, president of Club Market Vision, says, “He can actually send an e-mail now.”
Caro is the “smallest note taker in the world,” according to Cates. When Caro visits clubs, he takes notes in a Daytimer about 7 inches high and 4 inches wide and it is full of his tiny writing.
Caro's office is a mess. He mind is organized, but his office has “more paper than you've ever seen in your life,” Caro admits.
McBain says, “He's a pack rat, but he claims to know what's in every pile. No one has the nerve to test him on it.”
Caro can't dance, although as frequent dance partner and Maryland Athletic Club co-owner Liz Rhode attests, he has gotten better over the years.
“I don't know if he takes direction from a woman very well,” she says.
In his home office, Caro displays industry-related memorabilia and certificates that individuals made for him years ago referring to him as the “Father of the Industry.”