Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lucas Riphagen, Co-Owner of TriActive USA Fitness Equipment, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
TriActive USA is a California-based manufacturer of outdoor fitness equipment designed for use in all different types of environments, including parks, schools and universities, HOA communities, multi-family apartment complexes, senior centers, military campuses, resorts, corporate campuses, and correctional/juvenile facilities. Our mission is to empower people of all races, ages, gender, and physical or mental abilities, the ability to exercise without a fee associated with it. Exercise is proven to improve not only our health but also our well-being. With obesity rates in America on the rise, the ability to exercise without a fee associated with it in the outdoors is more important than ever.
Tell us about yourself
When I graduated college in 2014, I started working with my Dad to help grow his manufacturers' rep firm, also known as a factory-direct sales agency, in which we sold products into correctional and behavioral healthcare facilities. Items included furnishings, mattresses, intercom systems, plumbing fixtures, food service products, and exercise equipment. Our exercise equipment manufacturer unexpectedly called us to let us know they were closing their doors. After some thought, my Dad and I decided to make them an offer on a portion of their business that would allow us to start what is now known as TriActive USA Fitness Equipment. We had great success with the line and knew there were a lot of opportunities not only in the correctional space but in the various different markets listed above. The motivation behind the business is simply giving people access to fitness opportunities because there is no denying the positive impact it has on your mind, body, and soul. Everyone deserves these opportunities, no matter if you are incarcerated, financially unstable, obese, fighting anxiety and depression, or whatever else this world throws at you, because at the end of the day, in order to be the best version of yourself, you must start by being happy with yourself.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner so far has been growing the business each year while keeping everything domestically made. We've made some significant leaps in sales, which has allowed us to invest in different facets of the business. We're continuing to come out with new products; we've recently moved into a much bigger warehouse (we started in 1,000 sq ft), which has allowed us to expand our manufacturing capabilities, buy new machines, and more. It's also great to hear from our customers who tell us what an impact our equipment has made on their community or population.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
You don't know what you don't know. As a first-time business owner, you're learning new things every day. There are so many decisions that need to be made on an everyday basis, but you can't dwell on them. Go with your gut, put your head down and go to work. You're going to figure things out along the way; there will be hurdles, there will be highs and lows, but I've learned you must stay even-keeled. In addition, hiring employees is a challenge, but you can't grow without a team. You must lead by example, create a culture that helps your team thrive, and not let anything get in your way.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Not everyone's cut out for this, but if I were to give three tips to someone looking to start, run and grow a business today, I'd say:
- Just start. The longer you think about it, the more you will come up with things that may go wrong and talk yourself out of it. Not all the stars are going to align, ever, so if you have ambitions of starting a company, go for it!
- Reach out to people you know if you need help. Leverage your relationships, don't be afraid to ask for help; you have strong arms around you, although it may not always seem like that when you're running a business. Block out the noise.
- Enjoy the process. It's not the destination; it's the journey.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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