Todd Wadler, CEO and Co-Founder of The Midget BoxUnionI got a call from John Rotche last September. Rotche, CEO of Title boxing clubThe heavyweight of the box chain in the franchise area with 166 units was looking for potential acquisitions to expand its company.
Wadler turned the tables. “I said so quickly that we are not for sale,” recalled Wadler, but then changed his answer. “We’re always on sale at the right price. I don’t think you’re going to pay the right price for what we have. I think we should look at it differently,” suggesting the three-way deal that BoxUnion will buy Title Boxing instead.
Rotches reaction? “I think he almost fell from his place, who are these people?” Said Wadler with a laugh. BoxUnion announced the takeover of the Title Boxing Club on January 6th. Wadler became CEO of the chain and Rotche retained a seat on the board.
“These people” are Wadler, a former investment banker and co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer Felicia Alexander. They opened their first BoxUnion gym in Santa Monica, California in 2017, then opened a second and then a third in February 2020, just before COVID-19 hit. BoxUnion quickly launched a digital platform so customers can train anywhere.
Wadler said his idea for the future of fitness was a combination of stationary studios and online platforms. “I said this to the franchisees: The consumer still wants digital. And we will be there for our consumers who need a digital piece for our training. If we believe that the online experience is better than the club experience, then it’s us. ” I’m not doing the right things in our clubs because it should never be like that. “
Wadler believes that BoxUnion will bring innovation, technology and a training focus to the table that he suggested to Rotche during the first interview. “For the first few minutes I said I understand. Your brand awareness, we don’t have that brand awareness. Your scale, we don’t have that scale,” he recalled.
“But for me, the next phase is training the franchisee to have a successful presale. It’s about training the franchisee how to get open. It’s about getting the franchisee into marketing and lead conversion It’s about training coaches. You need a consistent product. I’ve been to a few title boxing clubs and there are different things in different clubs, ”said Wadler, noting that drift can be inevitable over time. “Remember, this is a business that started in 2008 and we are 12 years later.”
Neither Wadler nor Alexander have franchise experience, but Wadler said Rotche will remain on the board and serve as mentor, and veteran franchise managers Shelly Sun, David Barr, Doc Cohen and NFL superstar quarterback Drew Brees will retain their minority stakes. “So we’re tapping into some incredibly talented people,” said Wadler.
BoxUnion client Jose Feliciano, managing partner and co-founder of Clearlake Capital in Los Angeles, with $ 25 billion in assets under management, is the financial backer of the business along with Kwanza Jones, the American artist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. The two were classmates in Princeton and their company is known as KJSI for the Kwanza Jones & Jose E. Feliciano Supercharged Initiative.
Wadler said the first six months will be focused on building the new company’s management team, including hiring outside staff, and that the second half of the year will be focused on growth. “For me, it’s about the next phase. It starts with listening to whatever we can do to help people during this time,” he said, referring to COVID-19 and the gym closings that have come with it. “But then we’ll go to the same page as what the deal will be.”