Body builder

Henry Dabish and his staff have introduced Powerhouse Gym into new markets by creating relationships and brand awareness like any other large company. But there is a twist: At Powerhouse Gym, the market comes to them.

Dabish, president, CEO and second-generation member of the company’s founding family, makes Powerhouse Gym’s headquarters and corporately owned stores in Michigan a must-see destination for anyone who wants to own and operate a gym in any area of the world.

“We used to have an approval process where we qualified the individual or group we were working with,” Dabish says. “Now we do the introductions face to face. Over time, we’ll interact with the person or group via phone calls and e-mails, but we felt those initial introductions, where we really get to know who we’re working with, have been really important. So we handle those in person.”

It doesn’t matter where in the world you want to build a Powerhouse Gym franchise. You need to make the trip to Michigan to learn the company ropes in a hands-on environment and, most importantly, gain a firsthand knowledge of the company culture and values.

“Recently, we had a group that wanted to buy the franchise rights in Bahrain and Qatar,” Dabish says. “We had them come to the U.S. and stay here for about three and a half weeks. They trained in our corporate gyms, and we got to know them very well. We’re now very comfortable with that relationship. They’ve seen how we operate in Michigan and now they’re going to take that model into their market.”

It’s one example of a larger plan to keep the culture consistent throughout the Powerhouse Gym footprint. To build a consistent culture, first you need to clearly define what it is your company stands for. Then you need to find the people, both at the corporate level and in the field, who will embrace and promote that culture to other employees and to customers.

Dabish has had to develop and promote that consistency of culture as Powerhouse Gym — which generated $288 million in 2008 revenue — has expanded both domestically and around the globe.