Author: Brooke Johnson, BSU student
Located at 81 Sterling Road, in the heart of Eastside Brockton, Centre City Gym and Fitness Inc., has been the hub of competitive weightlifting for over thirty-five years. “I was a competitive weightlifter for eighteen plus years with a business degree from Northeastern University,” said owner, Edward V. Puopolo II, often referred to those who know him as Ed or Eddie. “I grew up on the South Shore and have lived here my whole life. I could not find an adequate place to train. So, at a part-time job, I met a co-worker that was a member of a small gym in Brockton, MA that was in trouble, which is when I was first introduced to what is now, Centre City”. When asked what was behind his motivation to start this business, Eddie listed off the following reasons, “Being a competitive weightlifter with nowhere to properly train, driving all over the place trying to get workouts wherever. But more, the lack of a real gym dedicated to strength athletes - powerlifting, weightlifting, field events, track, football players, wrestlers, etc. That is when I put together a business plan and applied for a small business loan”. When asked how long ago that was, Eddie answered, “Thirty-seven years ago, and here we are”. “Well, I have a series of questions for you, so let’s get into it.”
Q: What was the toughest thing you went through when opening? What inspired you to keep going as you were getting the business off the ground?
A: The horrible reputation that the gym I bought had in the community, it was run very poorly. Also getting the initial loan to buy the business, as the gym business has a very high failure rate. It took five years to change people’s perception of the business.
Q: If you had to start over from day one, what would you do differently? Or what was your most difficult challenge?
A: I would have borrowed more money. Reinventing the way I run the business several times because of the changing nature of the gym business over time. Growing the business into one of a durable competitive advantage with a moat that is nearly impossible to cross.
Q: What is the toughest part about having a business in 2020?
A: Dealing with all the noise on social media that is ongoing, 24/7, that distracts your customers and creates problems to be dealt with - most of it being inaccurate opinions of marketers with no factual basis behind it.
Q: If a customer was to choose between your business and three others just like it, why would you suggest they at least give you a try first? What makes you stand out?
A: There are no others like me in the state. Check out my Instagram page and see for yourself. Elite level lifters come here to train from all over the place.
Q: What is the number one way you currently bring in new customers?
A: Posting on Google, Instagram, and Facebook. Our lifters travel and compete all over the country. It creates a buzz which leads to future business.
Q: Has internet technology played a big part in your growth and making your company more successful?
A: Yes, in the last eight years, it has been tremendous for us, especially, Instagram, Facebook, Yelp, and Google. Almost all our new business comes from these sources.
Q: Do you feel that internet technology could play a bigger role in your business if you had the right tools?
It is possible, we are always tweaking things and looking for ways to get more exposure.
Q: If you had to look six months to a year into the future, where would you like to see your business be?
A: I would like to see 2%-3% growth going forward. This may be the last year of this economic expansion we are overdue for a recession.
Q: Increase or decrease, step away and be more a manager, passive owner? Why?
A: I think in small business you have to be relentless in your pursuit of it. If you become complacent, you will be run over. Also, you should build your business to last.