ESPN Fitness - Long Island, N.Y.
“It was a blessing getting this loan after losing so much in Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t know what else to do. My lender suggested this new program, and it was everything they said it would be; quick, simple, and easy. I live here and I have pride in my community. I want a beautiful facility and a way to give back.” Eddie Leach, ESPN Fitness, Long Island, N.Y.
Eddie Leach’s company, ESPN Fitness, had been gaining customers and brand recognition since Leach opened the Long Island fitness center in 2005. Then Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, leaving Leach’s facility under six feet of water and inoperable for more than four months.
Business was growing steadily, and the damage caused by the storm at his existing gym offered Leach the perfect opportunity to start anew in a bigger, upgraded location. He had been leasing his space and wanted to buy. When a neighboring property—a former dry cleaners—went on the market, Leach spent $30,000 to perform environmental testing that later revealed chemical contamination on the site. The owner refused to pay the remediation costs, forcing Leach to forfeit a SBA 504 loan that would have helped fund the building’s mortgage. A discouraged Leach was back to square one.
When a larger leased site nearby became available, a lender pointed Leach to Excelsior Growth Fund. The loan provided Leach with $53,000 for working capital and fitness equipment for the larger, upgraded facility. Along with other improvements, Leach had the hardwood floors in the 4,000-square-foot former dance studio redone, and he installed new fitness equipment. An opening date was planned for late August.
“It was a blessing to get this loan after losing so much in Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t know what else to do. My lender suggested this new program, and it was everything they said it is: quick, simple and easy,” Leach says.
The Excelsior Growth Fund, or EGF, specifically benefits underserved communities and businesses that have difficulty securing loans from banks or other traditional lenders. Called the EGF SmartLoan™, it offers a simplified application process that allows borrowers to prequalify, complete an online loan application and receive a funding decision quickly.
The loans, which run from $10,000 to $100,000, offer competitive rates and can be used for working capital, improvement or expansion, and facility and technology upgrades. EGF also offers unique services by providing borrowers with ongoing consulting services that are critical to the ongoing health of the business.
The expansion has meant more jobs at ESPN Fitness, allowing Leach to grow his staff by six, to 21 employees. ESPN Fitness is a full-service center that offers personal training and fitness classes such as yoga, spin and boot camp. Leach also expects membership to grow at his Island Park gym as word spreads about the bigger, more modern location and the added amenities, including babysitting services while members work out.
“We’re a small community here in Island Park and I want to compete with surrounding towns,” Leach says. “I live here and I have pride in my community. I want a beautiful facility and a way to give back.”