Shortly before Christmas, I embarked on a visit to Walsall, for a reunion with an old Squash buddy – Dave Lepper, Managing Director of Sprintz Leisure Ltd.
Following a chat with him and his assistant club manager, we agreed to join forces with them in a strategic partnership and alliance to develop Onyx Squash Academy Walsall, for their Sprintz Health & Fitness Club.
This partnership is win-win for both parties – for me, I have always wanted to have a national marketing collaboration, in a location with a strong diverse community to build a grassroots sports development legacy. As for Sprintz Leisure Ltd, it will allow their Sprintz Health & Fitness Club to capitalise on its rich history of squash participation having won many leagues in the Midlands.
So how did I get to know about Darlaston’s most unique health club? Well, it was May 2001, as a student at the University of Wolverhampton, before the days of Google and Smartphones – I looked at local Yellow Pages for a local health club, to do a short work placement for a module of my Quality Management degree; thus, I came across Sprintz Health & Fitness Club, in Darlaston.
Being from London, I had no idea where Darlaston was; hence, I made the 5-mile journey to visit the place and met with Dave at the club. From there, we built up a professional relationship, which lead to a strong friendship when the placement ended. Ironically, a few years I became their Marketing Manager and contributed to running the club with Dave, from 2004 – 2006. It from working there, I gained the thirst for entrepreneurship for health clubs, an industry I first entered in 1996 at the age of 17years old, whilst studying for a GNVQ in Leisure and Tourism.
Like most business partnerships, you do encounter problems – thus this partnership has been a long time coming between Dave and myself; but was delayed mainly due to personal setbacks on my side, which have seen the Onyx Squash Academy fail before it was launched.
Nevertheless, the New Year begins a new chapter in the existing association, and continues a working friendship that came about 15 years ago, because of a student work placement because of finding a health club via the good ole yellow pages.
Now the problems are behind me, fast forward to 2017, both Dave and I are much older, wiser, and more determined than ever; this time after a decade, we are reuniting this time in a unique London/West Midlands business collaboration, with a long-term objective to develop more junior Squash opportunities for the next generation of Squash players. Furthermore, look to provide guidance to young people, create community cohesion and business sustainability to Darlaston.
As for plans for London collaboration, well, I am still on the lookout.
Blog post by Jermaine Ranger, Founder/CMO of Onyx Squash Academy