Riley's Health and Fitness Centers Inc., Little Rock, AR, has sold the Little Rock Athletic Club (LRAC) and three other clubs to a local group.
Pat Riley Jr., who had owned the LRAC for 28 years in addition to the Little Rock Racquet Club, Downtown Athletic Club and North Little Rock Athletic Club, recently sold all four clubs to a group from Stephens Inc., a financial services firm located in Little Rock. The announcement of the sale was made on April 1.
Riley, who first acquired the LRAC in 1985 when it was the Westside Tennis Center, declined to disclose the terms of the sale. Riley did tell Club Industry that he had been thinking about selling the clubs for the past two to three years.
"I didn't sell it because I had to or because I wanted to go do something else," Riley says. "Instead, it just felt like my work was complete and it was time to let someone else take the reins."
Riley adds that he was pleased with where the clubs are in terms of staffing, facilities, service, satisfaction of the membership and the financial metrics of the company. Riley's Health and Fitness Centers Inc. was No. 63 on Club Industry's Top 100 Clubs list in 2012 with a reported $11.2 million in 2011 revenue. Riley wanted to turn the clubs over to someone "who had the same passion as me but who was fresh and motivated to take the business to the next level."
The new owners from Stephens Inc. are led by Brad Eichler, according to a report in the Arkansas Times. Frank Lawrence, who is not an employee of Stephens Inc., is the new CEO of the newly formed Little Rock Athletic Centers. Lawrence and the Stephens executives have been members of the LRAC and friends with Riley for many years. Lawrence also owns two CrossFit gyms in Little Rock.
"For more than a decade, Brad and I have developed a great deal of admiration for the
business that Pat has built," Lawrence wrote in a letter to members. "It is a winning combination of a wonderful membership base, outstanding employees and world-class facilities. Our goal is to build on this foundation and continue to focus every day on delivering the best possible experience to our members."
Riley will serve as a consultant to Lawrence but has no specific plans upon leaving the clubs.
"Running a service business with thousands of customers and that's open as many hours a week as we are is practically a round-the-clock affair," Riley says. "Until I am able to slow down and ultimately disconnect from this business, I won't make any plans for what's next. Eventually, I'll take some time and see what I really want to do. I have many interests, so I don't worry for a second that I'll be bored. At the moment, what I do next is a mystery."