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Behind the Scenes

John McCarthy: Bahram Akradi is the New Curt Beusman

In writing about Lifetime Achievement Award winner Curt Beusman for our September issue, several people have offered up great stories and perspectives about the man. One such view came courtesy of former IHRSA Executive Director John McCarthy.

I've e-mailed McCarthy in the past and finally got to meet him earlier this year at the IHRSA (OK, let's spell it out—International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) show in San Diego. Actually, I wasn't at the show just yet. I met McCarthy in the hotel lobby standing and talking to our friend Michael Scott Scudder after I had just landed and taxied over. I didn't know whether to shake hands with the both of them or ask them to take my bags.

Anyway, McCarthy recently offered some really nice comments about Beusman, but one stood out, and I don't know if it will make the final cut of the article. McCarthy said the industry looks to Life Time Fitness CEO Bahram Akradi the same way it did 30 years ago to Curt Beusman, founder of the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco, NY.

Beusman was and still is an industry leader. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, he was a real innovator, and he never stopped sharing his views with the industry. His IHRSA convention addresses were must-see and must-hear material. (More on that to come in the story.) The Saw Mill Club was one of the leaders of multi-sport clubs, and those were just starting to bloom back in the day.

Although McCarthy wasn't comparing Beusman's style and leadership skills with Akradi in particular, he did point out that of all the club operators the industry stops and listens to today—especially multi-sport club operators—Akradi is the guy. Akradi doesn't speak at conventions the way Beusman did, but because Life Time Fitness is a public company, we get to hear Akradi share his views at least four times a year through earnings calls with stock analysts.

Saw Mill is not a public club company, but you wouldn't have known it the way Beusman shared the success of his operations with others. Beusman's venue was the convention pulpit. Or, sometimes, all you had to do was ask, and he'd help you out. Trust me, there will be a lot more stories about the man in our September issue. Stay tuned.

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