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The Rush Hires Two New Executives

Larry Gurney, founder and CEO of The Rush Fitness Complex, Knoxville, TN, could not choose between the two finalists for his open COO position. So he hired them both.

Beginning Aug. 1, Steve Saxton will be the new president of The Rush, and Dave Carney will be the chief operating officer. Saxton had been COO of In-Shape Health Clubs, Stockton, CA. Carney was the east regional director for The Wellbridge Co., Greenwood Village, CO.

Saxton helped In-Shape Health Clubs grow from 30 clubs and a reported $64.3 million in revenue in 2008 to 47 clubs and an estimated $90 million in 2011. In-Shape was tied for No. 15 this year on Club Industry’s Top 100 Clubs list.

Before his time at Wellbridge, Carney served as vice president of operations with Lifestyle Family Fitness, St. Petersburg, FL, and aided in its growth to 55 clubs during the 2000s. (Lifestyle recently sold its remaining Florida clubs to LA Fitness.)

“Last year, what we decided as a board was that we were going to go out and find a good, experienced COO,” Gurney says. “These gentlemen both had 27, 28 years in the business. Both had helped grow companies to basically about twice the size we are right now. Both just had incredible resumes. It was the best problem I ever had.”

The Rush board approved Gurney’s idea to hire both Saxton and Carney. Gurney had held the president’s title before handing that to Saxton.

“We kind of loaded both barrels and put a lot of gun powder in here as far as human capital to achieve our intentions as a company,” Gurney says. “We believe that these individuals had enough to bring to the table to help increase those odds of being able to accomplish what our company’s vision and goals are.”

The Rush has 23 clubs, primarily in Tennessee, with others in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The company is No. 22 this year on Club Industry’s Top 100 Clubs list with a reported $48 million in 2011 revenue. That growth is a big jump compared to five years ago, when The Rush had 13 clubs and generated $25.7 million in revenue.

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