DOVER, NH — The hiring of Ben Midgley as president of Planet Fitness was an act to preserve sanity for Mike Grondahl, co-founder of the company. Midgley, who worked for 24 Hour Fitness for nine years and most recently served as an executive in charge of the company's community and business development office, will assume the day-to-day operations from Grondahl. Previously, Midgley led 24 Hour Fitness's corporate sales division.
Grondahl says he and his two partners, brother Marc Grondahl, the chief operating officer, and Chris Rondeau, the chief executive of World Gym, will now focus more on the strategy of the merged company.
“We've gotten so sucked into the business that we've been working in the business, not on the business, and we're driving ourselves nuts,” Mike Grondahl says. “We're to the point now where we're projecting $45 million in sales. We've got private equity firms contacting us on almost a daily basis wanting to buy us. We realize that for us to take the company to the next level, we had to hire some professional talent. [Midgley] grew up in Maine, and he'd been out in California for eight or nine years. It was a good fit. We hit it off right away.”
Planet Fitness paid more than $10 million last year to acquire World Gym's 295 clubs. That number is down to around 250 clubs, Grondahl says, and including Planet Fitness stores, the company has about 450 combined units.
“I've kept a close eye on Planet Fitness, especially once they bought World [Gym],” Midgley says. “If you look at their strategy and the way they're doing things, they've really hit a core that's going to be successful for years. They've found a way to make low price and high service doable, and no one else has found that model. At their stage of growth, for me to come in right now is just extremely exciting.”