After more than 30 years as owner of the Elite Sports Club brand, Kay Yuspeh has sold her five clubs to a group that owns Lakeshore Sport & Fitness in Chicago, according to a Nov. 22 announcement from the two brands. The companies declined to share the purchase price.
The purchasing group, which is led by Peter Goldman, has owned the two Lakeshore Sport & Fitness facilities since 2010.
Elite Sports Clubs will be run as a separate business entity, retaining its brand name in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, market where it is based.
Yuspeh is confident that Goldman is the right person to take on the next lifespan of her business, she told Club Industry in a joint over-the-phone interview with Goldman.
She told staff and members: “This is my extended family at the clubs. I wouldn’t just let anybody adopt my family. I picked the right person to take over, and I feel a very good comfort level with Peter carrying on our legacy and our traditions and taking good care of my staff and members.”
Goldman responded, “That’s a big responsibility that I have to bear to make sure that I’m doing exactly that, but that is our goal. The Elite business has been doing great. It has grown. It has a great staff, great team, great position in the market, and our job is to keep that going.”
Yuspeh bought the business in 1986 with her husband Richard and grew it from one club to five clubs known for tennis and family programming. She will remain on staff in an advisory capacity, particularly focusing on programming and developing an overnight camp.
The club’s staff will remain intact, Goldman said.
“Kay has an amazing team,” he said, sharing that many of the employees have been with the company for 10 to 20 years.
In the fitness industry, that longevity is “pretty shocking,” he added, and “another testament to Kay’s leadership and the business that she has built.”
Goldman plans to spend time at the Elite Sports Clubs during the next several months to get to know the staff better.
Despite receiving the Bravo Entrepreneur award from the Biz Times in Milwaukee in 2018 and the Women of Influence Entrepreneur award from the Milwaukee Business Journal in June 2019, Yuspeh said that her proudest accomplishment is her staff.
“I have such a close relationship with not just the staff but their significant others and kids and families,” she said. “I’ve been through marriages and divorces and births and illness and everything with them, and they’ve all stuck by me. I’m a big change artist, and change is hard, but my staff that I developed just kind of embraced change.”
Goldman plans some changes to the club, including upgraded tennis court lighting, upgraded heating and air conditioning, and development at the Brookfield club of the Quad, which is a multisport play facility for kids that Elite currently has only at its River Glen location.
Elite Sports Clubs ranked No. 54 on the 2019 Club Industry Top 100 Clubs list with 2018 revenue of $15.84 million.