Jim Worthington 0:00
I had to create this tribe of people that want wanted to be together.
Angela Giovine 0:08
Pop culture has become obsessed with entrepreneurship stories from Silicon Valley, and big startup, but the backbone of our economy is made of small local businesses. Every day millions of small business owners deliver quality products and services, support the local economy, employ their neighbors and follow their passion. We think their stories are worth telling. I’m Angela Giovine. Welcome to the extra ordinary small business podcast. Today on the show is Jim Worthington, owner of the Newtown Athletic Club from troublesome teenager to hard working hustler. Jim takes us through his journey of building one of the most aspirational local gyms in the country. What it takes to go from employee to owner and how he pays it forward.
Angela Giovine 1:02
Jim Worthington has a reputation that precedes him. Some know him from his colorful youth. Others know him from his passionate fundraising efforts for ALS. Others know him as one of the health club industry’s most successful club owners. We sat down at Jim’s office inside the Newtown Athletic Club. And he got real. He shared with us some key moments in his career that pushed him forward on the road to success and the role mentorship has played in his life, first as a mentee, and then later as a mentor.
Angela Giovine 1:43
Jim Worthington 1:44
Thank you. Thanks for having me today.
Angela Giovine 1:47
So I’m very familiar with the Newtown Athletic Club and I know you are in a number of other businesses, but I want to go back to the beginning. You’re in your 40th year of business at the Newtown Athletic Club, go back to 1977, young Jim, Philadelphia native, you have an idea. What’s the origin story?
Jim Worthington 2:08
That’s kind of scary. 1977 I was just getting out or starting my last year of college at West Chester. At that time, unemployment was high, I had it through I was going to get a teaching degree that spring of 78. And I had was sitting in a classroom with a group of 300 other people that had the same degree I had, Health and PE at a minor in physiology. And I remember the professor got up and drew the number 2 on the chalkboard and asks us all what it meant. Or a handful of us came up with different explanations what the number 2 meant, but none of us had the correct answer. What it was is that of the 300 people that were in that auditorium, that day, only two were going to be getting jobs in the field that they studied. So that was kind of alarming that I had spent three years or three and a half years and the job prospects-
Angela Giovine 3:00
It’s a wake up call.
Jim Worthington 3:01
Yeah, it didn’t look good. So I had to start thinking about other things. My my intention was to graduate the following spring in 78 and go back for a master’s in physical therapy. I was going to go to Duke. And that spring semester I picked up a part time job at a racquetball club called the Babylon Racquet Club in my hometown. I was commuting my last semester to West Chester, 40 minutes each way. And I started working there and by the end of that spring semester, I graduated. The there was a manager at that club it was you know, maybe six months old at the time. It was a new industry at that time, racquetball these these clubs just were starting up they
Angela Giovine 3:45
And when you say racquetball, you mean just racquetball?
Jim Worthington 3:48
Just racquetball. This was a a 10 court, racquetball club nothing else. But remember, this is pre fitness clubs as you know it now. I mean, it’s even hard to compare to someone your age, that you know, this was like rotary telephones versus you know, you know, your your iPhone now
Angela Giovine 4;06
Jim Worthington 4:06
So there was no such thing as health clubs. So I guess the girl that was running it at the time was not doing a good job. So the owner asked me if I was interested in in running it being the manager and I, heck, I was just out of school, 21 years-
Angela Giovine 4:20
He just saw your your work ethic.
Jim Worthington 3:22
Yeah. You know what I think what happened was he interesting story, he came in, I used to work the Sunday night shift. And he came in one night at about seven o’clock at night, and I was on the phone. And he didn’t understand why I was on the phone. He just thought I was just talking to someone, you know, one of my friends, so on and so forth. So when I got done of conversation, he kind of started to chew me out a little bit. He says “You know, you know why you’re on the phone. You’re supposed to be, you know, working the desk here as well”. And I said, “Mr. Hefran, I I was calling people on the phone that were members of the club they asked them if they wanted to come in and play racquetball this week”. He said, “Really?” said “Yeah, I mean, we’re you know, we have all these courts that are empty during the week and I thought-
Angela Giovine 5:03
No one asked you to do that?
Jim Worthington 5:05
Nobody asked me to do it.
Jim Worthington 5:06
You just thought it was a good idea.
Jim Worthington 5:06
Yeah, I was just sitting there with nothing to do. And I noticed that there was nobody playing. I thought, well heck, I can match people up with other people to get them to come in and play.
Angela Giovine 5:14
That impressed him.
Jim Worthington 5:15
That impressed him. So that stuck in his mind. And I guess he was having trouble with this girl who was managing it and he came up to me one day said, “Would you be interested in managing?” I said “Well frankly, I’m thinking of going back to school”. He said, “Well give me you know, a two year commitment. I’ll pay you-” you know, I can’t remember what it was. I think it was like $15,000 to me that’s like $100,000 at the time, and he gave me a shot to run it. So I that was my first it was in my hometown and a lot of my family and friends and people I grew up with were members. And it was it was awesome. So I ran that for a couple three years
Angela Giovine 5:51
Jim Worthington 5:51
until another story where where I got hired by the Newtown Racquetball Club was I was running this team match at the Babylon Club on a on a Saturday, and this is where another other clubs came to play against your club in a in a racquetball tournament, and the Newtown team was coming in that weekend. And they came in and they were all supposed to pay, they would go down to the court, and then they match up against our guys and women on our courts, and they were going to play in a match. Well, I hadn’t collected all the money from everybody, one person hadn’t paid so I, I stopped the matches before they began. And I said, Look, so-“, and I, you know, went to the top of each court and I said, yelled out said “Look somebody didn’t pay until the Newtown member didn’t pay comes up and pays we’re not starting”.
Angela Giovine 6:40
Jim Worthington 6:41
Well, after about five minutes, the guy that didn’t pay, did come up and pay. Well, at the end of that match, unbeknownst to me, a lady by the name of Dottie Mentor came up to me and she introduced herself and she’s “Look you know, I’m the owner of the Newtown Racquetball Club along with my husband and a few other people. I was really impressed by the fact that you wouldn’t let the match go on-“.
Angela Giovine 7:02
Right, and you did it in the professional way.
Jim Worthington 7:04
Yeah. And she said, “My, my managers, which we’ve had, we’re on our sixth one in our third year, they wouldn’t even have cared about the money in fact they would have been down there playing and wouldn’t even care that was collected goes “Would you be willing to talk to my husband, Charlie, sometime next week?” He was a big Wall Street guy and successful guy. So I called him up on the phone we spoke he said, “Would you consult for my manager we got now we’re on our sixth one in the third year, his name’s Jim Baird. He’s Wharton School grad. He doesn’t seem like he he’s getting it. We’re kind of like losing patience. This, you know, we’ve tried all these people from pro athletes to this, this and that, would you? Would you talk to him?” I said, “Sure”. So I started working with this guy, but I mean, he was more educated me was a Wharton School grad, but he didn’t have. I mean, he didn’t have the common sense, you know.
Angela Giovine 7:52
Right, because in both instances where you were able to get ahead, it was something that came totally naturally to you. You thought to call people on the phone, no one taught you that. And then before the matches started, you just, it was basic to you.
Jim Worthington 8:06
Well, yeah, I mean to me, my main job as the manager was to collect all the money and wasn’t and I was representing the owner of the club.
Angela Giovine 7:13
Jim Worthington 8:14
So make a long story short, I worked with his manager for like six months. And then finally I said to the owner, Charlie, I said, “Look Charlie, this guy’s just not getting it done. You got to do something different because I talked to him each week, but he’s not implementing the things I-
Angela Giovine 8:29
Jim Worthington 8:29
just doesn’t have the common sense or the interest of doing it. Remember, it’s a brand new industry.
Angela Giovine 8:35
Jim Worthington 8:25
So a lot of what’s going on is it wasn’t like, you could look back over 20 years of racquetball and say- Exactly, there was no manual and how to do it was all instinct. So he came to me and said, “Look, we’re how would you feel about coming to work for us?” And I said, “I would put my education on hold for three years now, I said to become a physical therapist, I said I’ll I’m willing to listen to your offer.” He said, “Well, I’ll give you $30,000 A year and some some bonuses based on how you do.” I said, “Well, I’ll give you a two year commitment, but that is it. I’m going back to school.
Angela Giovine 9:07
Jim Worthington 9:08
I went to work for these guys. They were 11 court racquetball club 15,000 square feet, three acres, a few hundred members probably doing $700,000 a year in sales.
Angela Giovine 9:20
Jim Worthington 9:20
There was four partners at the time. By the end of the second year, which I told him I was going to leave, they said, “We didn’t want you to leave. We have a partner that was a former manager too, who is an educator. We’re interested in your taking his spot”. He needs the money. He wants to get out. We all originally put in $40,000.
Angela Giovine 9:39
Also he was a partner.
Jim Worthington 9:40
He was a partner.
Angela Giovine 9:41
Jim Worthington 9:41
but he they they were losing money when I got there. So they’re got to keep kicking money in.
Angela Giovine 9:46
Jim Worthington 9:46
When I came, I stabilized it and started to make money but he still wanted to get out. The other three guys were pretty wealthy guys, Wall Street guys.
Angela Giovine 9:56
They could take the flounder.
Jim Worthington 9:56
They could do it, but this guy couldn’t and I think he had just had enough. They said, “Well, he’s interested in getting out. Would you take his spot?” I said, “Well, yeah, I don’t have 40,000 bucks”.
Angela Giovine 10:05
Jim Worthington 10:05
They said, “Well, we’ll go-”
Angela Giovine 10:06
How old are you at that time?
Jim Worthington 10:07
Heck, I was 20…4? I guess at that point when it was 26 when I became a partner.
Angela Giovine 10:15
Jim Worthington 10:15
or when they offer me the partnership. So I said, “Look, I can’t swing that”. And they said, “We’ll let you pay it out over, you know, three or four years, we’ll just take it from your bonuses that you would get”. So that’s how I became a partner.
Angela Giovine 10:27
Jim Worthington 10:27
So and then, you know, over the years from that point on, that was like 1984. Well, I just started to expand the business grow and do all kinds of things. But one thing I want to tell you, I think that impressed them two things was that where they wanted me to be a partner, my first week that I got here, they were not making money, they were losing a little bit of money. So I came in and it was it was just a circus. I mean, everybody there was stealing and they were playing racquetball for free, you know people be supposedly working in the front desk and would be down playing racquetball-
Angela Giovine 11:02
Right. And the owners had a full time job so they weren’t there to see it. There was no such thing as surveillance cameras.
Jim Worthington 11:08
No. No, no, there was nothing. It was just maybe you’d hear word of mouth.
Angela Giovine 11:12
Jim Worthington 11:12
So and they knew all this was going on because they had been going on for three years.
Angela Giovine 11:16
That’s why they wanted you.
Jim Worthington 11:17
Exactly. So and within the first week, I had got I got rid of almost every employee that worked here. And what I did is I started with the front desk people so I got rid of them. I got rid of the morning front desk person and I work that shift and I would interview during that shift to replace me and then I fire the afternoon people
Angela Giovine 11:36
Wow! You were just like bugs bunny behind each of the desk-
Jim Worthington 11:39
I just I just kept firing people replacing them. And then once I got through that, about three or four weeks into it, we were still weren’t making a go of it. And I started to look at where else could we cut and we had a janitorial company that cleaned the building seven days a week, so I knew I didn’t have the time to clean it seven days a week but what I did is I cut them back so they didn’t clean the weekend.
Angela Giovine 12:02
Jim Worthington 12:02
So I started cleaning on Saturday and Sunday at five in the morning we would open up at eight. So I would clean the building on both those days that saved the payroll I also got a better understanding what it took to clean and I then backed into what they were charging me Monday through Friday figured out I was getting overcharged because it was taking me a few hours to do it.
Angela Giovine 12:22
Jim Worthington 12:22
You know, if I was employing the people myself, I would be saving like a third you know, two thirds of what they were charging me. Eventually got rid of the cleaning staff, hired my own people that did it and then the kind of the byproduct of that I started my own janitorial company.
Angela Giovine 12:39
Jim Worthington 12:39
And shortly thereafter, I started cleaning buildings in the industrial park while running this place.
Angela Giovine 12:46
Jim Worthington 12:46
and then about three years later, that was the first company I sold-
Angela Giovine 12:52
Wow, I didn’t know that.
Jim Worthington 12:53
Yeah, I sold that. I’m like about 28 years old, was called JNW Janitorial Service. And at those times, it was big money. I sold it for $300,000 which would today would be like a million and a half or-
Angela Giovine 13:04
And how did you do that? How did you sell it? How did you find someone to sell-
Jim Worthington 13:07
Well, basically a guy that that was the high school principal where I went to high schools, I was friends with him and his wife and his wife worked for me. And they were trying to find another, you know, something besides him being the principal, another source of income, and he can he knew that, you know, I was making I had to make a decision, was I going to stay in the health club industry and grow that? Or was I going to get out of the health club industry and do this janitorial business,
Angela Giovine 13:36
Jim Worthington 13:36
which is really flourishing and doing well it’s making a lot of mo-
Angela Giovine 13:38
That’s a hard decision to make.
Jim Worthington 13:40
I was real close to stay in in the janitorial business.
Angela Giovine 13:43
What threw you over the edge to health and wellness?
Jim Worthington 13:45
Well, first of all, I was was an athlete when I was younger, and I loved it, and I was a racquetball pro.
Angela Giovine 13:45
And you went to college in that industry as well.
Jim Worthington 13:53
Well, there was really I was into health and fitness because of the physical education but there was really no sports management or anything back in those
Angela Giovine 14:01
Jim Worthington 14:01
because again, this is a urgening brand new industry, even the health club and there was no such thing. So I just had to make a decision what I thought I’d rather do, would I rather clean buildings at night, and that? or did I want to stay here and work at the health club and they made me a partner. And I was making good money at that. I thought, well, you know, I’ll sell that and I’ll find something else to do. So that’s what I did. I sold it, and I sold it to this guy and him and his wife. They kept it for many years. But you know, as far as profit, you know, like I said, it would be worth probably a million and a half-
Angela Giovine 14:34
Right. And that made you really secure at that point. And you said, you’re only 28?
Jim Worthington 14:39
27 28 but-
Angela Giovine 14:40
Jim Worthington 14:41
Angela Giovine 14:41
Jim Worthington 14:41
but I still wasn’t happy. And my partners were Wall Street guys and that back in those days, that was a very sexy-
Angela Giovine 14:49
Jim Worthington 14:49
This is Michael Milken
Angela Giovine 14:50
Wolf of Wall Street times.
Jim Worthington 14:51
You got it. Big big money, big money was going on. And I saw them commuting to New York or him Charlie commuting to New York and you know, business suit every day and I was running around in gym shorts and I kept saying him you know Charlie, you know nothing for nothing but I’m running around in short shorts. I don’t feel like this is you know, that my career path so on and so forth. I mean, so when I was about 28 he he left Merrill Lynch to start his own money management firm called Comstock Partners. And he was it was only a small office six seven people plus the three partners but he was having trouble again managing the people because that’s what they weren’t good at. They were more Wall Street people but they weren’t like Main Street people-
Angela Giovine 15:33
Jim Worthington 15:34
He said me look you know, we’ve got some probs up on on Wall Street on Broadway because come on up and help me manage the office. I went up and started managing the office these six people, now you’re talking about like these high level people.
Angela Giovine 15:45
Jim Worthington 15:46
and what I found out these high level people were no different than the people that work at my club. They were just as you know, they needed to be supervised and held accountable just as much the only difference they were making hundreds of thousands of dollars. My goal when I first started out is I wanted to be this Wall Street guy. Well I worked there for three years and I was so frustrated and saw, I mean everything that Wolf of Wall Street on that, that all that stuff’s true. It was it was like fraud on Wall Street. And it was really ridiculous what people were getting paid and even myself. And I was never more unhappy in my life because I felt like I wasn’t really contributing or doing anything for the good of the cause. So I told my partner that I was leaving. I want to I want to go back. It just wasn’t about the money-
Angela Giovine 16:32
So you told him you’re leaving his Wall Street company, but not-
Jim Worthington 16:35
Angela Giovine 16:36
Jim Worthington 16:37
So I came back here and the two other partners were thrilled with that. Because they never wanted me to leave in the first place.
Angela Giovine 16:43
Jim Worthington 16:44
They were happy with it. So we started acquiring more ground next door. So we went from three acres to six to 10. And before you know it over time, now we’re at 25 acres and you know,
Angela Giovine 16:56
So we’re sitting here in your office, on the original location of the Newtown Racquetball Club.
Jim Worthington 17:01
Angela Giovine 17:01
And you said it started at how many square feet?
Jim Worthington 17:04
15,000 square feet.
Angela Giovine 17:06
What are we at today?
Jim Worthington 17:08
Uh, you know, counting the outdoor in the field house, we’re pressing 250,000 square feet 25 acres.
Angela Giovine 17:13
That is a lot of growth. And obviously a big turning point for you was the move from only racquetball to like you said, the aerobics and wellness and exercise industry. Tell me about that switch.
Jim Worthington 17:26
So what happened was a game changer for me, which was the biggest thing that ever happened for me personally. And also this growth. It was it wasn’t like I just woke up one day and I just this all popped into my head
Angela Giovine 17:39
Jim Worthington 17:39
but when I did get interviewed here in May of 81 when I first came, asked me what the long term vision for here was? and I said “A country club without a golf course”. In fact, over on my wall, there is the article that, that I said that back in May of 81. And that was like, that would be likes saying-
Angela Giovine 17:54
That was your vision.
Jim Worthington 17:55
Yeah, I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I did know that, there was going to be more to it than raquetball. I knew that weights and fitness and, you know, aerobics, dancing back in those days was gonna be a part of it. What shape it was going to take 1015 2030 years later, I wasn’t quite sure but I knew it was going to be something more substantial.
Angela Giovine 18:13
You knew the direction you were going.
Jim Worthington 18:14
I knew it had to go that way and I, I went to a convention in 1982 was the second one they had. It was the Irsa. It was the actually back then it was called International Racquet Sports Association. I went there and it was like two or 300 people from around the country that had these tennis racquetball clubs that were trying to figure out
Angela Giovine 18:35
Jim Worthington 18:35
what the hell to do with it because they’re all going out of business.
Angela Giovine 18:37
Oh, really? Okay.
Jim Worthington 18:38
Oh, they’re all go yeah, when I-
Angela Giovine 18:39
So it was a fad, and it was kind of dying out.
Jim Worthington 18:42
When I got here in 1981. There was 21 racket pure racquetball clubs in the Bucks and Montgomery County area.
Angela Giovine 18:49
Jim Worthington 18:50
There’s only probably 20 years later, there was only a handful left and there’s only a couple left. They’re all office buildings now.
Angela Giovine 18:58
Jim Worthington 18:58
They all went out of business.
Angela Giovine 18:58
Jim Worthington 18:58
So I join that organization and it was a game changer because I get to meet other people that were in the similar situation I was, trying to figure out how to make money on these courts. And they started converting them over and I started converting them over into fitness and group backs and took out a couple at a time and before you know it, it just kept evolving into where I kept taking more of the courts, because the highest and best use of of space was not putting two people playing racquetball on 800 square feet. It was putting 20 women in that 800 square feet doing an exercise-
Angela Giovine 19:35
The revenue per square foot was jacking up.
Jim Worthington 19:37
You got it. It’s all this that’s what this business is all about.
Angela Giovine 19:41
Jim Worthington 19:41
Getting maximizing the revenue per square feet.
Angela Giovine 19:45
Jim Worthington 19:45
That’s basically so that was a big turning point going that now-
Angela Giovine 19:48
I saw writing on the wall. It was just you started to see memberships go down? or what was it that made you think “I have to make a change”?
Jim Worthington 19:56
Well, the court’s sat empty all day.
Angela Giovine 19:58
Jim Worthington 19:58
So I mean, it wasn’t like-
Angela Giovine 20:00
How long did it take you, like how many months before you were like I need to make a change?
Jim Worthington 20:04
Well for I had already made those changes the club prior. So one of the reasons why they hired me here besides the fact they like my management style was I had already started converting courts there
Angela Giovine 20:15
Jim Worthington 20:04
to fitness and started selling memberships
Angela Giovine 20:18
Jim Worthington 20:18
Annual membership. So when I came here, you know, within months, I started the construction of the first two courts.
Angela Giovine 20:24
Jim Worthington 20:25
So that was 81 and then I knew the trend and I knew what I had to do and then in 82, I went to this conference and started learning some of the things and then and part of what I learned from there was in 1985, another game changing moment for us we, the clubs, started doing monthly payments, monthly dues and that wasn’t stolen from the insurance industry where they would debit your accounts for your insurance-
Angela Giovine 20:52
That wasn’t a thing before that.
Jim Worthington 20:54
Angela Giovine 20:52
What you just invoice people? How did you just
Jim Worthington 20:57
You just you pay, you charge for an annual fee.
Angela Giovine 20:59
Jim Worthington 20:57
So 50% of the people would not renew it each year. So if you pay me $300 for a membership,
Angela Giovine 21:05
And it was a guessing game.
Jim Worthington 21:06
Well 5050 does the cat there was no cash flow.
Angela Giovine 21:08
Jim Worthington 21:09
So it was killing this industry, particularly the racquetball business was, you would be busy in the winter when the weather was bad, but in the summer time you weren’t bringing any money. So what what you had to do is you had to get a steady flow of income. So we went to a monthly dues structure and then we started back in those days we would say we debit your checking account. So we started to get a more continual cash flow and then you know, you could see that every new member you brought in put to the bottom line. Once you got over a certain amount of your expenses covered.
Angela Giovine 21:39
Jim Worthington 21:39
So that that was a huge game changer for industry. Again, I learned that through Irsa ironically, here I am in my 40th year in the industry, 40th year this club, and this year I’m the chair of the of the global largest global trade association the world
Angela Giovine 21:56
Jim Worthington 21:57
Angela Giovine 21:57
You grew with them, they grew with you.
Jim Worthington 21:59
Yeah, and you know it was a pretty big honor but I mean if it wasn’t for me going to that convention I’m not sure that we would even be in here in the form. That that was a game changer.
Angela Giovine 22:10
40 years. I mean, we’ve just sort of scratched the surface on how much has changed in 40 years. What has stayed the same?
Jim Worthington 21:18
What stayed the same is that is a very labor intensive customer service driven industry. Now there are new models that have come out in the last 10 years via 8 vlp high volume, low price clubs like Planet Fitness and so on and people like Retro who basically just give you a facility you walk in, use the equipment and costs you 10 or 20 bucks a month so there has been the advent of this.
Angela Giovine 22:45
Jim Worthington 22:45
these new these new models that are by the way very successful financially if you’re you own them, but what I do which is that more customer service oriented or lifestyle cloth-
Angela Giovine 22:58
Jim Worthington 22:58
Yes, it’s more like the hospitality industry that it stayed the same because even when I didn’t have a lot of members when it was just racquetball only, I had to get people to participate in play. So I had to create this tribe of people that want wanted to be together. So you had to have racquetball leagues and tournaments, and so on and so forth. Well, when I started converting those chords, then you have the tribe of people that work out. So you’ve got to get them, you know, introduced each other,
Angela Giovine 23:26
Jim Worthington 23:26
know each other.
Angela Giovine 23:27
You were cultivating a lifestyle.
Jim Worthington 23:28
And a family of people.
Angela Giovine 23:30
Jim Worthington 23:30
So if that has not changed, if anything, it’s gotten worse because because of our price point and what we do and-
Angela Giovine 23:38
Jim Worthington 23:38
you know, we charge $140 a month for an individual membership,
Angela Giovine 23:40
Jim Worthington 23:40
The expectations are even higher.
Angela Giovine 23:43
Jim Worthington 23:43
So that’s the part by the way, that’s the that’s the thing that stayed the same. And that’s the same reason why I don’t have more than one new tenant.
Angela Giovine 23:50
That was my next question. I you know, you mentioned Planet Fitness and some of these other gym chains across the country. It seems like the popular thing to do is to have multiple location.
Jim Worthington 24:01
Angela Giovine 24:02
So your choice to to and as we just said this, this location is a huge location. Your idea was to focus it in on one location.
Jim Worthington 24:13
Yeah, about 20 some years ago, 25 years ago, I had to make a decision whether we were going to do more of these me personally, or was I going to segue into other forms of income that could, you know, supplement what I’m doing because I want I didn’t want to stay static professionally and financially and I just didn’t feel comfortable doing this model elsewhere because I never felt like we could deliver-
Angela Giovine 24:41
Did you test it? or you just knew-
Jim Worthington 24:43
No we never test we didn’t test it at that time. I did have a long term employee that I cultivated for a good 1520 plus years, we did test it in a club in Horsham in a real est-
Angela Giovine 24:57
Jim Worthington 24:57
a building that I owned 150,000 square foot building that I bought with another guy and we put a 45,000 square foot club in there, the Horsham Athletic Club, nightclub it hasn’t really done financially. It’s just done. Okay. You know, back in the day was I just didn’t feel comfortable not being on location doing-
Angela Giovine 25:16
Jim Worthington 25:16
Now, ironically, financially, it worked out because I got very much into real estate, which is a big part of what I do now, probably 70% of what I do for a living is unrelated to the neck and welcome industry so a lot of people aren’t aware of that but
Angela Giovine 25:32
Jim Worthington 25:32
but I got very big into that and other startup businesses as well. We did do another club about 15 years ago with our accounting firm. Our accounting firm that has been with us since day one 1978 saw the success we had here and wanted to do one in Flemington, New Jersey, but what happened was we were partners and the managing partners for a good I know eight, nine years, but they wanted more of a commitment for me personally to be there on a regular yeah. And I wasn’t willing to do that.
Angela Giovine 26:02
This is your baby that you wanted to be here.
Jim Worthington 26:04
Well, I wasn’t so much stab that we had a guy there. This was this guy I cultivated that I felt that was undermining him.
Angela Giovine 26:11
Jim Worthington 26:12
If I went there, that would mean he would, in theory get less pay because it would look like I’m
Angela Giovine 26:18
Jim Worthington 26:18
doing his work
Angela Giovine 26:19
Jim Worthington 26:19
and I didn’t feel comfortable with because he was he was, very much is knowledgeable. He was more than capable.
Angela Giovine 26:24
Jim Worthington 26:25
And I remember back when I was going back to my first boss, I remember that I would be working 60 70 80 hours a week.
Angela Giovine 26:24
Jim Worthington 26:34
And I remember like clockwork, on the busiest night a week Monday, Tuesday night he would walk in the club at seven o’clock at night like walk around slapping people in the back acting like he was you know, taking all the all the glory. Yeah, all the credit and all the glory and I said I looked at him just I never say any but I felt like if I was ever in that position, I would not do that because really the people that run the club are the ones day to day. They’re the heroes.
Angela Giovine 27:00
Jim Worthington 27:00
They’re the one that make it work. Even in that now, I’ve we’ve actually had comic cards where people say I had Jim Worthington, he’s you know, he’s kind of uninvolved this that, but that’s by purpose.
Angela Giovine 27:09
Jim Worthington 27:09
because if I’m walking around acting like I’m important that takes away from the fitness dress-
Angela Giovine 27:14
Jim Worthington 27:09
group fick Linda Mitchell all the people that work here all the years Joe, I mean, they deserve if the clubs run well day to day it’s because of them.
Angela Giovine 27:22
Jim Worthington 27:22
I create the vision. I give them the tools, I provide the finances, I you know, I come up with the ideas but they’re the ones doing it every day. So I basically try to stay away from that.
Angela Giovine 27:35
Is that hard for you? Because we talked earlier about how you literally have done every job in this building. And I can imagine as a business owner myself, sometimes you feel like I can do this better than everybody else. How do you restrain yourself I guess to help people?
Jim Worthington 27:50
I don’t restrain myself.
Angela Giovine 27:53
Jim Worthington 27:53
So what so what what happens when it comes to interactions with the employees when I’m out and about and working out and so on and so forth I let them know. When I’m out now I’m not out of the office that much but when I’m out of the office particularly in the fitness center which I use every day so
Angela Giovine 28:09
Jim Worthington 28:09
The poor Brittany who runs the fitness center downstairs, she has to hear me every day. I was just out at the pool before we sat down to do this talk. I was spending some time with the manager on duty out there saying you need to look for this this this this and this where I draw the line is I don’t go to the members-
Angela Giovine 28:27
To the customers.
Jim Worthington 28:28
to the customers. So I will tell the managers what need to be done and things I’ve seen. You know I pulled in today and I saw you know I pull in the driveway and I see like five different things that are you know, right away and on the phone to my son he’s the facilities manager jack is jack you need to do this, this this this this. And by the way, I when I pulled up three or employees were standing in the parking lot, just talking and then when I told him to get going, 2 of them hopped in a truck and I had to stop the trucks and where are you going? You don’t need two to people to go to
Angela Giovine 28:54
Jim Worthington 28:54
deliver something you only need one
Angela Giovine 28:56
Right, right, right.
Jim Worthington 28:57
And then he explained to me so then he explains to me he goes “Well they’re going to take scrap metal back to the the scrap place”. I said Jack, think about this, business 101, you’re going to get $70 for the scrap by the time they get back, it’s gonna cost you $45 in their hourly thing. It’s your salary you should be taking that.
Angela Giovine 29:14
Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jim Worthington 29:15
The little things like that, you know.
Angela Giovine 29:16
Right, but instilling that in people so that they understand because it sounds like from the beginning, the reason you’ve been successful is managing the numbers.
Jim Worthington 29:24
Yes, managing the numbers, managing the payroll, I mean the big issue in a health club like ours is payroll. Now, ironically, you could pay your top your top people well, and it doesn’t mean you don’t pay your lower level people well, you pay them well too. You just don’t over staff and you get more productivity out of those people. So like I just said to the MOD it’s ironic, we’re talking about that. When I was in the fitness centers where I’m looking out to the pool. And here’s 4 other servers standing around and talking and the MOD, the manager on duty is running around picking things up.
Angela Giovine 29:57
Right Why? Why aren’t the other servers?
Jim Worthington 30:00
Right. And so I go out to them I say, you know, Josh, nothing for nothing. But there’s five of you. Now you’re working as hard as you can. So I want 100% productivity out of you, but you represent 20%. I’d rather you make sure those other four people give me 100%. That’s 80% productivity. You could sit in a lawn chair and watch them. And I want you to get more done than if you’re running around like a nut now, get them working and run around half as much as you’re doing now, still keep an eye on him. And you’ll see the place will be cleaner, people be happier. I mean, little things like that. But you know, when you’re-
Angela Giovine 30:33
BUt all the little things add up.
Jim Worthington 30:35
For sure. So we’ve been able to keep our higher level employees for years because I’ve been able to compensate them, incentivize them, pay them well, but also find ways to control the payroll so that I don’t waste money.
Angela Giovine 30:48
So you mentioned that back when you gave one of your first newspaper interviews in the 80s, you had the vision then – the country club without the golf course. You also said you weren’t sure exactly what it looked like and this club has evolved over 40 years little by little step by step. But tell me about a time where you made a big change or took a big risk. And it either paid off or did not pay off. Sometimes there’s that big Domino.
Jim Worthington 31:14
Let me tell you real quick, too. I just not that not that not answer that. But I did read a book in the mid 80s, a guy named Ken Dychtwald that said The Age Wave was the name of the book. And it had to do with baby boomers, and it basically was saying, if you follow what baby boomers want, because it was biggest group of people at that time, and even up until recently, if you provide them services they need, then you can create a business that will stand the test of time.
Angela Giovine 31:40
Jim Worthington 31:41
Yeah. So I read that book, and I don’t read a lot of books, but it was one I read and basically, I pattern the growth of the club.
Angela Giovine 31:47
Jim Worthington 31:47
And so when these people were racquetball players, and then they got married, I knew they needed babysitting and then they needed kids programs. And then-
Angela Giovine 31:55
So for you, it wasn’t about specific passion around a certain business type. It was you always had your mind on a specific customer set.
Jim Worthington 32:02
Yeah, I was just growing-
Angela Giovine 32:04
How am I going to serve this customers?
Jim Worthington 32:06
Angela Giovine 32:06
And what different ways I can make money that way.
Jim Worthington 32:08
Yup, it was what that customer needed and what the surrounded area surrounding area needed. So I grew based on what the supply and demand was needed for the area and my client group. So you know, that’s how I decided to add everything going for whether it be the basketball courts or the kids program, the kids wing, or, most recently, the outdoor pool areas, which you know, everywhere, every step along the way, when I was converting things and changing people, everybody, half the people resisted. This is going to fail, you’re going to go out of business, you know, I can’t believe you’re doing this. You’re getting too expensive, so on and so forth. So I’ve heard that from when we had 400 members to now we have 12,000 members, so I’m going to go out of business.
Angela Giovine 32:49
How did you know you were right?
Jim Worthington 32:51
Just instinct. And I just knew that if if I did it in a way that it was not the norm, you know, I was always trying to lead the industry, I was always trying To be ahead of the curve, I just felt like my instincts were good. And if I did it in a way that it was beyond their expectation.
Angela Giovine 33:08
Jim Worthington 33:08
Well, I remember like the outdoor pool five years ago before we built it six years ago, particularly the seniors, you know, I can’t believe you’re doing this. We don’t want a pool, we don’t go out to the pool
Angela Giovine 33:18
And to pause, the pool that we are talking about is a five star luxury hotel resort type pool. That is unheard of really for Athletic Clubs, has adult pool, hot tubs, full slides, full bar waitstaff it’s quite unbeliev-
Jim Worthington 33:38
It’s almost like a resort and a health club. So yeah, it’s very, very it’s really the first decline in the industry. I was the first of its kind in industry to do that. But yeah, I mean, was the my vision so remap, imagine this is my vision. I’m going to do this. I know what you just described in my head, and I’m telling these people that are my age 60 65 70 years.
Angela Giovine 34:00
That you’re going to do it.
Jim Worthington 34:00
I’m going to do it and they’re saying, “No, we’re going to quit. We’re going to leave” and I’m there like, “Look, do me a favor, you’ve so many people have been with me 30 some years. Right now, I should have earned your trust. I mean, this is going to be beyond your expectation. You’re going to love this”. When it was all said and done, guess who most of the people that go outside are? It’s the 50 60 70. They’re out there morning, noon and night, they love it. this is their home away from home, this is their resort, this is their country club without a golf course. And to their credit, they’ve come back to me and said, “Hey, you were right. This is amazing”. So you know, you always try to exceed their expectations just like what we’re trying to do with this new addition, this $12 million addition which I’ve lost two partners over but, let me go back to your other question. What the one thing that we did that probably didn’t make sense but but it did at the time was this the what we call the blue gym, the back gym there, which is like 11,000 square foot gymnasium. We we created that some 20 some years ago, as a thing for roller hockey. It was really designed for kids roller hockey. It did have basketball hoops in it too, but, and we came out of the gate and it was booming. Well, it was so successful that other people started building just roller hockey rinks for floor-
Angela Giovine 35:17
Jim Worthington 35:17
This is part health club, they built one specifically for that. So they built a better box.
Angela Giovine 35:22
Jim Worthington 35:23
So people went to that. So all of a sudden, I’ve got this big space back there that now people aren’t using it.
Angela Giovine 35:28
Jim Worthington 35:29
So over the years, it’s involved in other different things. Now we do six own back there and some other things but the good news is that’s that’s the lower level. The two levels above it is the children’s programming which has just blown up in the phenomenal.
Angela Giovine 35:42
Jim Worthington 35:42
So the bottom space is not done as well per square foot as you’d want to do as far as a revenue producer, but it is my ace in the hole for what’s going to happen down the road and whatever that is, that’s my spot then because you could take that two story space, I could put a floor across the middle just like I did the old racquetball courts, I can make that 11,000 square feet 22,000 square feet. And for instance, some of the ideas that are running in my head now like that we work where you can go and do the the work. I could do that there. There’s a medical component. I was first going to do my preschool in there, but I end up buying the building next door about eight months ago. So I’m doing my preschool right, right next door on this campus of the building I bought at the end of my parking lot. So it didn’t pay for itself day to day, but it’s it’s my expansions, my next vision spot, and I’m already working on things. Yeah.
Angela Giovine 36:38
Did you build it, knowing that it might change over time?
Jim Worthington 36:42
Not at the time I didn’t. But I also knew when you build a shell, that has you know, nothing in it a clear span, you know, in the back of your mind, because I went through with the racquetball courts, you can convert it easily into other things. So I didn’t know what it was going to be. I didn’t think that the roller hockey was going to fail.
Angela Giovine 37:03
Jim Worthington 37:04
It did. But I wasn’t concerned because I knew it was very, very convertible space.
Angela Giovine 37:09
One thing that is a theme that I’m hearing with you is throughout your entire career, you’ve never been afraid to change, whether that be technology, completely appending a space, changing your career completely going into new lines of business, often with small businesses, people are afraid of change. What gives you I guess, the courage to change or what keeps you wanting to change?
Jim Worthington 37:34
Well, I mean, for me, it’s simple. Money is not my motivation. It’s funny when when people think of business people, they think that that’s really that that’s all they’re driven for. It’s never been, I’m willing to rate take a chance because I have no problem going back to zero and starting over. And I don’t mean necessarily going out of business. But I mean, if if for some reason that my vision doesn’t work, and the profits are less, I mean I can survive off whatever it is.
Angela Giovine 37:59
Jim Worthington 37:59
I mean, I don’t don’t get me wrong, I think things have gone very, very well. But if you took it away tomorrow, I’d still be the same guy. I work out in the gym every morning, you know, two hours and, you know, I try my best to be the best I could be. And because you really get in once in life, you get one shot to make a difference. And I think what’s cool about the NAC, it’s almost been like a test lab for the industry because we get a million visitations here. Like in the last couple, three months, we’ve had at least 40 club owners from around the world come to visit to see what we do. And I’m all about sharing and growing industry and give me-
Angela Giovine 38:32
And that’s interesting to me that you are willing to share.
Jim Worthington 38:36
Angela Giovine 38:36
So many small business owners are so afraid.
Jim Worthington 38:38
Early on remember when I told you in 1982, I went to my first IRSA convention.
Angela Giovine 38:43
Jim Worthington 38:44
There was guys that had been in the industry that were in it longer than me
Angela Giovine 38:48
Jim Worthington 38:49
even though I was new, guys like Kurt Huseman who was a club owner, The Saw Mill Club in Mt Kisco, New York and Rick Caro, Norm Cates. Oh, you know, they’re probably 10 years older than me that we’re sharing their stuff to grow this industry.
Angela Giovine 39:02
Jim Worthington 39:03
because you know, a rising tide raises all ships. I mean, so I benefited from their knowledge. The other thing is not just even people in the industry. I remember when I first got here I was again, I was only like 23 or four and I developed this friendship with a guy by the name of Dr. Ed Pool. He was an eye surgeon.
Angela Giovine 39:22
Jim Worthington 39:22
In fact, he’s probably in his mid 30s. And I knew he did well is that I knew he was a successful guy. And I used to say to him “Look Ed, I really don’t want to know what you really make, you personally but what do you make a year because I want to know what a successful person is”? He go “What the heck’s the matter with you”? And I go, “Well, I need to know I need to-
Angela Giovine 39:40
What’s my goal?
Jim Worthington 39:40
I need to know what what a real successful person would be and he would shares you know, his stories with me and what how he was successful- A lot of people took an interest in me and did that. So, you know, as I became as we became more successful, I felt the need to give back to everybody else that that you know, just the way people would give me a chance, particularly my partners who they, they could have closed this club club up at any time because they’re very well to do and said, you know what, we don’t want the aggravation.
Angela Giovine 40:08
I want to put our money in real estate.
Jim Worthington 40:09
Will do something totally different.
Angela Giovine 40:11
Jim Worthington 40:11
And they bought my vision and gave me the opportunity. So for me, everytime I get the oppotrunity to share with other club operators or you know other people, even other like I got this friend of mine who’s 21 years old. His name is Brandon Lee. 2 years ago he was cleaning for me. I said him “Brandon, you know what’s your plan?” He said “Well I don’t really know”. I said “Why did you get into cleaning business?” I said “I do used to do that”. I set him up, got him a couple accounts, my buildings couple buildings I have, you know here we are 2 years later, the kid’s going to make 100 grand this year. That
Angela Giovine 40:42
Jim Worthington 40:43
him, 21 years old.
Angela Giovine 40:44
Right, right. That’s amazing.
Jim Worthington 40:45
Yeah, so I mean like, I feel as good about that as if it was my own
Angela Giovine 40:50
Jim Worthington 40:50 me and myself and my own son or you know, so because people do that for me.
Angela Giovine 40:55
Jim Worthington 40:55
So anyway that that’s why I’m willing to share.
Angela Giovine 40:57
And to that end, we’ve touched on the fact that you’re in to the real estate business in addition to this but now, you’re ambitions have turned into the non profit space.
Jim Worthington 41:09
Angela Giovine 41:11
Jim Worthington 41:11
Angela Giovine 41:12
Well sure, but I’ve seen you raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for ALS.
Jim Worthington 41:18
Angela Giovine 41:18
Millions of dollars for ALS excuse me. Were you able to do that because you already were successful as a business person? Or were you doing that all along and just became more visible, where did that passion come from?
Jim Worthington 41:33
Frankly, it’s been part of my life since I was a kid. And I learned it from my parents. My father was very active in his community. Commute in New York from Horsham, three hours a day each way.
Angela Giovine 41:45
Jim Worthington 41:46
And he he wasn’t rich wealthy man when he die he had a couple hundred thousand dollars but very very generous with his time, helped he founded the footbal program in Horsham, he little league field named after him, my mother was, somebody who only went through the eighth grade because her she had 7 brothers, her mother died and her father was going to she had to raise the kid.
Angela Giovine 42:07
Jim Worthington 42:07
And just a very generous woman and just grew up in that environment. When I go out of college, I was very active in my local high school, I coached football and some other things and some years later few years later I found in my high school alumni association in fact, I own my own high school. I mean really, I own it. It’s a 501 C3 I own it. It’s the half of Horsham Alumni Association and the school doesn’t even have it and it’s mine, because I knew I was going to raise a lot of money, and I didn’t want something to happen where somewhere down the road something happened to me, and you know somebody came in to the side they’d give all the money to the football team or the band, it’s designated just for kids scholarship. I also founded their educational foundation-
Angela Giovine 42:52
So even when you didn’t have…
Jim Worthington 42:54
Angela Giovine 42:54
all that money,
Jim Worthington 42:55
Angela Giovine 42:55
You’re finding time to do all these non profit
Jim Worthington 42:57
Because I want to give back I was a complete moron in high school, I was an athlete good guy you know good athlete all that stuff but I wasn’t you know the, I wasn’t the you know nicest kid. I mean I wasn’t a bad kid, that used to fight a lot and get in trouble and do stupid things, and but I was captain of football and baseball team but I was a pain in the ass and and I actually thought then I was normal. And when I got to college I realized you know what, I I wasn’t as nice a guy as I should have been.
Angela Giovine 43:22
Wow, you realized that.
Jim Worthington 43:24
I realized that I was a jackass so I ended up wanting to do things to go back and give-so my high school gave me a real good foundation. They gave me a great work ethic.
Angela Giovine 43:32
Jim Worthington 43:33
I learned through sports that you could be successful base on how much effort you put in it and that’s what I learned early on.
Angela Giovine 43:32
Jim Worthington 43:42
And I always felt that it was time for me to give back so now, it’s the one of the largest public school endowments
Angela Giovine 43:49
Jim Worthington 43:49
in the state of Pennsylvania. I’ve got $750 000 in an account. The interest and dividends thrown off each year I award to 68 kids for at my high school, I even since started one in memory of my mother.
Angela Giovine 44:02
Jim Worthington 44:03
For kids that she my mom only went to eighth grade or ninth grade but she was very big into cooking and culinary so I started a scholarship through that for a kid that wanted to go to culinary school and then
Angela Giovine 44:14
Jim Worthington 44:15
I started this stuff way back when I been and the next been doing it forever.
Angela Giovine 44:19
Jim Worthington 44:19
In fact we put in all financial assistance plan, almost 20 years ago that there are hundreds and hundreds of people that come to the NAC that pay nothing. You don’t know who they are because only Nancy and I do but we actually took the YMCA’s program, saw that, realized it wasn’t nearly as generous it should be, we enhanced it, to make it 5 times better than they what they do. And now, anybody no one ever gets turned away here based on financial mean
Angela Giovine 44:45
Jim Worthington 44:45
It’s been that way for 20 years but we’ve raised here, you know tens of millions of dollars for charity through donning our facilites, membership for free, raising money. It’s just been recently in the last 4 years or so that we really started to leverage our initiative because we took this guy Matt Belina,
Angela Giovine 45:06
Jim Worthington 45:06
who has ALS and we made him the local face of our ALS mission Matt’s mission, one of the things I did that was a choice I made I got involved in the political world 3 years ago that that and people a lot of people don’t understand why but I got involved in it because it was a good oppotunity to advance the causes that we were trying to get done which was the right to try, which is the bill that got signed by the president a few months ago where you know terminally ill people have the right to try experimental drugs. So I’m really an advocate, Lin and I, Linda Mitchell who does like 90% of all the work and I 100% of the credit, we’ve expanded our work to advocacy so now when we do raise money for good causes, now were trying to change the world by by getting good legislation pass.
Angela Giovine 45:53
Would you say that those accomplishments, where do they rank on your meter?
Jim Worthington 45:57
They’ll be nothing remotely close to that, that I can think. You’re talking about helping people that you know are experiencing the option of life or death. As I’m going through this bill trying to get it pass which we got we got involved 2 years ago. Now remember this was for 18 years trying to get done. We got involved my sister got pancreatic cancer about a year ago. Well you know so she was given the death sentence, terminally ill. If it had passed in the last four over we hoped it would in in because it passed in the senate,
Angela Giovine 46:29
Jim Worthington 46:29
the house shut it down, she would have been been able to get experimental drugs that could have saved her life.
Angela Giovine 46:35
Jim Worthington 46:35
By the time it got passed, and signed by the president on a Wednesday in June. The next day coming back from Washingtington, I got the news from my nephew, her son that she went in the hospice. It was too late for her. She died two weeks later.
Angela Giovine 46:52
Why do you think you were able to get it done? I mean other than picking a team.
Jim Worthington 46:57
We stomped for him, we worked for him, he didn’t even know what the right try was until he came to the rally here. If if Donald Trump wasn’t a nominee, it would whoever would have been, was if they need to come to Bucks County, if they came here they were going to need to talk to us about the right to try. I don’t care if it was Hillary. If you come here, I’ll host you. We need to talk to you about the right to try.
Angela Giovine 47:19
Jim Worthington 47:20
So he was the nominee. He came, they said he was going to come, we said “Fine, we want 20 minutes with him or it can’t happen. He gave us 20 minutes, Matt Belina, myself and Linda talk to him, we explained to him what the right to try was, didn’t know what it was, 2 years later he sign in the law. So I mean
were a grass roots of regular people walking the halls of congress. These 4 families Frank Mongealo, Matt Belina, Tricket windler’s family and Laura Mcleaner and little sin Jordan. And we just got in there and just talked to every single person and before you know it we got it passed in the senate and the house and the president sign it but it took 2 years and so many lives were lost during that time period.
Angela Giovine 48:01
Right, and you could have easily said, this is never going to happen, it’s been forever, I’m going to give up.
Jim Worthington 48:06
We never got that point because Matt Belina, he was here and I said to him 2 years ago because I knew his time was limited when I said “Matt, you got ALS you got 3 to 5 years to live, 90% of the people die.” Right here in this office were sitting right now.
Angela Giovine 48:19
Jim Worthington 48:19
He’s sitting right where you sit at that time sitting, he walked in.
Angela Giovine 48:19
Right and now he’s in wheel chair.
Jim Worthington 48:24
He came with his arms and legs,
Angela Giovine 48:26
Jim Worthington 48:26
he can’t feed himself, he can’t he can’t scratch his nose, so I said to him “I said Matt, we need to do something else. Do you want to go to another county? What is it do you want to do? You know to get access to drug. He said “Well there’s a bill called the right to try.” I go “What is that?” He goes “It would allow me as an American to try experimental drug”. I was naive I said “Well let’s let’s do it. Let’s get it done. I know what that said”. Before you know it, we were we were advocates for the Right to Try through my foundation Have A Heart. Because at the end of the day, nobody cares about how much money you have, It’s not about politics, you got to pick as team, I pick the team.
Angela Giovine 49:02
I don’t want to take up too much more of your time but I’m going to ask you two more questions.
Jim Worthington 49:05
Angela Giovine 49:06
Finish this sentence. I wouldn’t be standing here today, if not for.
Jim Worthington 49:13
Three things one my parents, 2 was IRSA, the organization I mention earlier. And three would be my partners. Early on Charlie Mentor who hired me, because he didn’t need to hire me so for sure, in terms of giving me an opportunity other than my dad no one did anything more for me than he did. And along with that, my two partners Howard and Peter that like supported my vision forever. So you know ironically they stayed up until 4 years ago and what broke their back, Howard got to be about in his late seventies and Peter was in his mid seventies at the time. I told them that I was going to do this next expansion which is going to be 10-12 million dollars and they said “Well what the return of investment?” And I said “There really isn’t”. And they said “What do you do you mean?
Angela Giovine 50:04
Jim Worthington 49:13
Why are we doing this?” I said “Because it’s part of a 40 year vision. We could be a leader in the industry if we go with what what I want to do because nobody’s done what I’m going to do next and it will be our give back and we’ve all done functioning extremely well. And they said “Well you know, we get it but we’re up in age” and said “Look you know I I depend on this income that I get from the club so if I get cut back in my disbursements, I can’t live the lifestyle I want to live”. And I said “Well guys you know
Angela Giovine 50:37
I’m doing it.
Jim Worthington 50:38
I’m doing it. So-
Angela Giovine 50:40
In or out?
Jim Worthington 50:41
Yeah, so what do you want to do? And they said “Well, I we like to be bought out”, And I said “Well you name the number”. And each named the number, no negotiation.
Angela Giovine 50:50
Jim Worthington 50:50
They get what they wanted.
Angela Giovine 50:52
Jim Worthington 50:52
And they laughed because
Angela Giovine 50:54
That’s got to be hard I mean in small small businesses there’s no like the science of valuing a company can be really difficult. So the fact that you were able to just do that so anna-
Jim Worthington 51:04
But we had a guy that came in that do the evaluation. And he basically said that they kind of bumped up a little bit above that. And I I didn’t have a problem with that. But they by the way, they were dead right. My partners are right. What we’re doing now makes no financial sense.
Angela Giovine 51:20
This is your legacy.
Jim Worthington 51:21
This is- right. And also they were winding down because they got families
Angela Giovine 51:26
Jim Worthington 51:21
And they had to winding down their estates. Made all the sense in the world for them and for me, because of what I said ealier it’s not about the money, it makes sense for me. My partners were dead right, they this this makes no this makes no financial stance but at the end of the day, we’re going to have a club that’s going to be just one of the top in the world. I mean already is but it’s going to be done in the next 2 years there will be nothing like in the global fitness industry.
Angela Giovine 51:49
Wow. What’s one piece of advice you would give your 18 year old self?
Jim Worthington 51:55
You know at that, I was I just started my freshman year in co-
Angela Giovine 51:59
Jim Worthington 52:00
college at West Chester and that it was you know basically we will be time to grow up. I barely I mean highschool I was 300 out of 350 my class rank. I was terrible. I just goofed around. And that it was time to buckle down. And that even though I like sports, sports I was going to make living at so you needed to like apply myself to now don’t get wrong that you know both academically and and and socially because I was a bit of a live wire who likes to get in fights and screw around and raise hell. Now I remember I was laying on hamper at my bestfriend Dave Chiller’s house post each damp front yard. It wasn’t even a post that stumble it was so small. And we were laying out in the front yard one night at 8 o’clock on our backs just literally laying out on the front yard.
Angela Giovine 52:46
Jim Worthington 52:46
Yeah big word talking and I remember saying to him you know “if I could get out, nagger and make 5 bucks an hour.”
Angela Giovine 52:54
There’s the dream.
Jim Worthington 52:55
I’ll be so happy. And I’d figured it out that was like 10,000 bucks “I’d be so happy”. So it really tells you what it was like back then but knew I had to get out and do something and fly myself. Now at 21, I’ll tell you real quick because it’s a life changer for me, that same story I told you earlier about the professor drawing a number 2 on the board knowing that only 2 people are going to get a job out of 300. So knowing that, I started taking real estate classes that semster, spring semester 2 weekends in a row in Lansdale. So I came back from West Chester, we go home, get up Saturday and Sunday morning go to this real estate class in Lansdale from 8 to 5. And I rememeber the first class I got to is 8 AM in the morning, there was like 40 people there and I was the youngest one there. And the guy that was in the front- he goes ” I want to ask everybody here why they’re here”. So he went around the room, everybody had a really good reason for being there. He asked me I said “Look you know, I going to graduate from college and looks like there’s no jobs in my in Health and PE”. So everbody’s answers and he looks up and says “Look everybody here, has a great reason for being here but most of you won’t work out”. And he goes “And I’ll tell you who’s going to make it and who won’t make it”. And he goes ‘The people that make it will live by this motto” He said ” Successful people do, what unsuccessful people could do but choose not to do.” I just say “Successful people do, what unsuccessful people could do but don’t do” Fact they got it up on my wall here.
Angela Giovine 54:28
I just noticed that right before you said it-
Jim Worthington 54:29
Yeah, so I was 21 years old and for some reason that hit home. So I live by that motto and you’re going to say this is bullshit but I’m going to tell you it’s true when I got did enact in 1981, I started a string of working where I didn’t take a day off and it got to be 6 months a year, a year and a half, 2 years it got over 2 years 2 and a half 3 years, I went 5 straight years without not coming in to the NAC, the Newtown Racquetball Club. At least checking in, stopping by 5 straight years never did go on vacation, didn’t go down the shore, didn’t get hung over and miss a day,
Angela Giovine 55:11
Jim Worthington 55:11
didn’t get sick-
Angela Giovine 55:13
If you did you come anyway?
Jim Worthington 55:14
I came anyway. 5 straight years.
Angela Giovine 55:16
Jim Worthington 55:16
I came- because once I got on a role I mean I was obsessed. And it’s a littl f*** weird. I know.
Angela Giovine 55:20
Jim Worthington 55:21
But it’s true. And I just really realized that even my dad passed away, you get all these mass cards. Within one day, I written thank you notes to over hundred different people that’s dropped off mass cards. They got them within 2 days. I knew I knew that that’s some things someone else wouldn’t do.
Angela Giovine 55:40
Jim Worthington 55:40
And I knew that people would think yeah, that’s really good that he reached out. So you know I look at that as being successful, most people won’t even think to do that
Angela Giovine 55:50
Jim Worthington 55:50
let alone to do it.
Angela Giovine 55:51
Jim Worthington 55:51
Angela Giovine 55:52
Well you can really apply it to every part of-
Jim Worthington 55:53
You can do it for every for- I mean and that the good news and the bad news that drives you nuts because you’re always busy because you’re always trying to
Angela Giovine 55:59
Jim Worthington 55:59
to exceed expectations so anyway
Angela Giovine 56:02
Well Jim Worthington, thank you. I’ve learned a lot and been great having you.
Jim Worthington 56:08
Well thanks I hope and that didn’t bore you and all the listeners out there but that’s my life story I what can I tell you. Thank you.
Angela Giovine 56:15
Thanks for listening. For more information about our show and our company, head to extra ordinary small business dot com. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram. We would be so grateful, If you could help us reach more listeners. All you have to do, is go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and rate, review and subscribe. It would mean the world to us. Ratings, reviews, and subscribes are how iTunes decides which podcasts are worth sharing. Help us continue to bring these stories of extraordinary small business owners to the world. By rating, reviewing and subscribing, you’re helping our small business. It’s free and it takes just a minute. Thanks!