BRINGING FUN AND INNOVATION TO THE FITNESS WORLD
There are those who say that opportunities don’t just happen; you create them. There is perhaps no one who brings this philosophy to life quite like Mark Gurley and Al Palladino, co-founders of the popular Rebounderz Indoor Trampoline Arena, a rapidly growing franchise of indoor jump arenas and family entertainment facilities based in Sanford, Florida.
A remarkable series of events led Gurley from ve-time, world- renowned martial arts champion to successful entrepreneur and CEO with 11 indoor trampoline arenas in America and abroad. Along with his partner, Al Palladino, a black belt with years of experience in business and IT, he has revolutionized the indoor trampoline market.
After sustaining an injury at a trampoline facility in Las Vegas, Gurley came home to Florida and immediately undertook a plan to design a state-of-the-art facility with patented improvements to the safety of participants and durability of equipment. Gurley had a phenomenal idea but, like many trendsetters, needed help turning it into an actual business. That’s where Palladino came in.
Palladino saw Gurley’s design for a trampoline arena and immediately knew, thanks to his impeccable eye for business, that it was something special and advantageous to the area. Both were also concerned dads who realized that kids and teens need exciting, athletic experiences to help them burn off energy and log much needed exercise.
Just a few months later, the plan became a business when the two turned approximately 18,000 square feet of space into the first Rebounderz arena, complete with an innovative trampoline design that others in the industry have since adopted. Using aggressive marketing tactics to increase visibility, they became an almost instant success.
Based on the same type of enclosures used for swimming pools, which Gurley had designed and built in the past as part of his construction career, the unique design for Rebounderz Jumpers includes two trampoline beds sewn together in a way that ensures that jumpers don’t fall through and make contact with the oor below. Other company developments include a special exoskeleton for the trampolines and red safety lines, deemed “Joshua lines” after Rebounderz COO Joshua Coates, designed to keep jumpers away from the pads that protect the trampoline springs.
These elements also serve to extend the life of the equipment so that the arenas cost less to maintain than their competitive counterparts. This is an especially attractive incentive for the franchisees who are helping to advance and expand the Rebounderz business model.
THE NEXT LEVEL
Yes, like other successful entrepreneurs before them, Gurley and Palladino realized that they could take their initial idea and turn it into a franchise opportunity. With so many people seeking entertainment options the entire family can enjoy (without sitting in front of a screen or being at the mercy of uncooperative weather), indoor trampoline arenas offer the opportunity to ll a vital niche and run a pro table business.
The partners researched, examined and documented every aspect of the Rebounderz model. They met with attorneys, consultants and accountants for the nal touches and then took their business national…then international.
As part of the Rebounderz family, franchisees can take advantage of marketing development, materials and guidance designed to drive new customers to their sites and gain a competitive advantage in their markets. The company is SBA-approved.
Franchisees’ investments vary between $1.2 – 2.9 million based on location and property size. The ideal location for a Rebounderz franchise is somewhere with high visibility in a building ranging in size from about 28,000 – 55,000 square feet.
Each franchisee enjoys the bene t of sharing corporate resources and an already established system of innovative safety standards. However, unlike some other strict franchise models, Rebounderz franchisees can also choose their own features to add, based on the area and feedback from local residents. For example, the franchisor in Jacksonville, Florida, added a tactical two-level laser tag arena, and the one in Newport News, Virginia, created a Ninja Warrior Challenge, styled after the wildly popular obstacle course competition TV show.
While the business continues to grow, the partners take steps to keep it from growing too quickly – they don’t want to get so big that they can’t support the franchisees who depend on them.
With Gurley taking on the role as the sports and construction industry visionary and Palladino exercising his business prowess and operational leadership expertise to manage daily operations and nances, they make it work. The pair has plans to open four more arenas in the U.S. in the next year and three more international locations within 18 months.
They have also taken their focus on safety a step further as founding members of the American Society of Testing and Materials committee, which helps to improve and regulate indoor trampoline arena safety standards. In addition, the two insist that all Rebounderz materials be made in America, part of their desire to contribute to the nation’s economy.
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal about indoor trampoline arenas?” When the rst Rebounderz facility opened in 2008, there were only ve such arenas in operation nationwide. Now there are hundreds. Indoor trampoline arenas are often sought after by families looking for something fun to do without having to pay the expensive fees typical at most amusement parks.
This trend has continued to rise, even during the recession. While other industries ounder, the indoor trampoline market has grown from $12 million to almost $700 million in fewer than 10 years.
Low operating costs and growing popularity make it an appealing option for entrepreneurs everywhere. Rebounderz expanded into entire family entertainment centers, with some offering tness classes, basketball courts and jump towers.