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Retro Fitness Hires First Chief Operating Officer Amid Rapid Growth

Former Starbucks Executive Mike Rogers to Join Jersey-Based Franchisor
Retro Fitness North Brunswick
Retro Fitness of North Brunswick at 223 N. Center Drive is pictured here. Dave Schatz

COLTS NECK, NJ–Retro Fitness, the growing NJ-based company, hired its first chief operations officer (COO) recently.

While Retro has grown to 61 locations throughout the Garden State, it's also been busy franchising its “low-cost” gym model in other states as well.

The new COO, former Starbucks executive Mike Rogers, is reportedly a savvy leader who was employed by the coffee giant for two decades.

Rogers can "grow organizations from mid-sized start-up to national brand presence, [and will] realign Retro Fitness’ resources … for future growth,” reads a news release on his hiring.

Rogers holds a bachelor's degree in Hotel Restaurant Management from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“We’re thrilled to add another tremendously talented individual to our team,” said Retro Fitness CEO Eric Casaburi, an entrepreneur from NJ who launched the company.

“I know [Mike Rogers] will impact our future story immensely,” added Casaburi, noting that the new COO has significant experience building various business teams.

Retro’s clubs are on the small side compared to competing gyms here in Middlesex County and beyond. 

But business trends suggest models like Retro's might be more likely to succeed.

“We incorporate state of the art equipment associated with big-box clubs and the high-end amenities and training associated with boutique concepts,” said Casaburi, adding that Retro combines an “affordable” $20 membership option “with a first-class gym experience.”

Citing consumer and demographic trends in retail and grocery, Bryan K. O’Rourke, writes that “industries and business models are being channeled” to either the high-end or low-end of the market, in a paper titled: “The Rise of Boutique Fitness Studio Concepts.”

Since the recession of 2008 and 2009, what O'Rourke refers to as “a polarization of the consumer population,” has created “a shrinking middle class” with an increased number of consumers “at both ends of the economic spectrum.”

He says that so-called boutique studios are specialized and claim to deliver top-notch service through “focused fitness concepts that deliver rich consumer experiences.”

“Low-cost concepts like Anytime Fitness … are among the franchises that continue to proliferate [in the US], while middle-market clubs like Town Sports International [New York Sports Clubs] have suffered.”

O’Rourke indicated that businesses catering to either the higher-end or lower-end consumer are doing very well “and the health club industry is no exception.”

Citing some reasons new Retro franchisees chose to join the Retro franchise system, a media release earlier this year highlighted the local Retro in Franklin Township – now owned by Ralph Basile, Daniel Pace and Peter Pace.

“With a few decades each in sales, the Pace brothers saw gym ownership as the perfect platform to supplement their families’ retirement savings,” reads the release.

“They took over the Kingston, New Jersey Retro Fitness location in June with Daniel’s brother-in-law, Basile, who runs the day-to-day operations of the gym," it continues. "His background consists of being a volunteer firefighter in the Monmouth Junction as well as a 911 dispatcher for the South Brunswick Police Department.”