A partnership with private equity firm Tengram Capital Partners will allow Earth Treks Climbing and Fitness, Columbia, Maryland, to open additional climbing gyms in new and existing markets, the companies announced last week.
Earth Treks was founded by alpinist Chris Warner in 1990 and currently operates five gyms in Maryland, Virginia and Colorado.
“We are thrilled to partner with Earth Treks,” Tengram partner Matt Eby said in a company release announcing the investment but not releasing the amount of the investment. “Chris and his team have built a truly authentic brand on the foundation of a strong culture, a very high degree of customer loyalty and a distinctive positioning in the space. We look forward to continuing to build Earth Treks’ bright future as fitness enthusiasts increasingly seek the more social and engaging experience that these gyms have been proven to provide."
The team at Tengram was particularly attracted to Earth Treks’ focus on customer service, as well as the full-service retail stores at each facility, Earth Treks Marketing Director Tori Barnett told Club Industry. For Warner, an expansion also means more advancement opportunities for the gyms’ trainers and staff.
“It’s in our nature to continue to grow as a company and to expand and serve and share our passion for climbing with more people,” Barnett said. “Chris Warner felt the best way to do that was with additional support, this partnership. … Tengram looked at other companies, as well as other fitness climbing companies, and ultimately this partnership was a natural collaboration.”
Barnett said it is too early to forecast future Earth Treks locations, or whether or not they will be products of new construction. (Earth Treks' Golden, Colorado, facility is its only existing gym that was built from the ground up.) She added that locations are picked by more than whether it is in an established climbing community.
“Are there people [there] who are active, adventurous, ambitious and passionate?” she said. “Is it family-friendly and close to a light rail or metro without people having to drive and park? Is it bicycle accessible? These are all things that are important to our customers.”
Earth Treks’ five gyms are located in Columbia, Maryland; Timonium, Maryland; Rockville, Maryland; Crystal City, Virginia; and Golden, Colorado. Amenities include large walls for bouldering and sport climbing, as well as equipment and yoga rooms.