Jackson man introduced health clubs to the area during the 1970s
For some, Chuck Miner is the godfather of the modern health and fitness club in Mississippi.
But make no mistake — his business acumen is respected as well.
“I’ve known Chuck Miner for 15-20 years and I’ve always known him for having a strong business savvy,” said friend Ralph Hall, a Club member. “Chuck is pre-eminent in the health club business and he is so influential in the community.”
Now owner/CEO of The Club at Crossgates in Brandon, the personable Miner has been in the fitness business since 1978, when he launched the Courthouse fitness center in suburban Jackson. After 20 years of expansion and growth, the 67-year old sold the ultra-successful Courthouse properties to one of his partners in the late 1990s, only to conceive The Club, which now boasts five locations in metro Jackson and one in Hernando since Miner opened the original Club in 2002.
The Club at Crossgates is a membership-oriented health facility that offer clients a total gym experience, with an emphasis on professionalism and cleanliness.
“The people, our members, who pass through here are who make this business,” Miner said. “Friendliness to our members and cleanliness of the facility – those two things fit together and are the basics to keeping any business successful.”
After 31 years, Miner apparently knows a thing or two about small business — and he knows what he likes, he explained.
“I am a round peg in a round hole. I enjoy this industry and I get excited coming to work everyday,” he said. “My advice to anyone wanting to start a small business is to find your niche, the thing you enjoy the most, and go for it.”
Contrary to popular belief, according to Miner, the fitness and wellness industry is not immune to a recession.
“Certainly, we’ve been affected by the economy but not to the extent that so many small businesses have,” he said. “Unlike a lot of businesses, though, we depend on people’s expendable incomes. What I’ve noticed is that in the past year and a half, we’ve had members that have had to relocate to other cities for employment opportunities.”
Miner added: “One thing I can say about the fitness industry — in poor economic times, people work out to relieve stress. In good times, people want to work out to look and feel good about themselves.”
Miner’s journey as a small businessman hasn’t always been fun and games. A few months after opening the first Courthouse location in Flowood, the infamous 1979 Easter Flood devastated a large portion of northeast Jackson and Rankin County, leaving Miner’s brand-new facility a watery mess.
“We got 42 inches of water inside the club,” he said. “To this day, I still hear from people that tell me they were there helping us fill sandbags to keep the flood waters out of the place.”
Miner was undeterred by the experience and says owning a small business, despite the associated risks, is worth it.
“Owning your own business is a privilege, a great opportunity,” he said. “Until you’ve experienced it, one doesn’t realize all that it requires. Running your own business is not as simple as some make it out to be.
“The bottom line is that owning a small business is not for everyone.”
Miner’s advice is simple to those who wish to become their own boss.
“I would tell them to make sure you establish a great relationship with the banks,” he said. “You always have to keep your banking doors open, as well as with the Mississippi SBA. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to be able to maintain those strong relationships.”
Ray Riley, first senior vice-president for Community Bank of Mississippi and Miner’s lender, says the health club owner’s secret to small business success isn’t complicated.
“Chuck is a very energetic person,” said Riley. “He first and foremost want to please everyone — his service to his customers, the club members, is unparalleled.”
By NASH NUNNERY I STAFF WRITER
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