You wouldn't exactly expect a businessman with a nickname like "Junkyard" to be especially sensitive to his customer's needs.
But Richard "Junkyard" Sells, owner of Junkyard's Jym & Nautilus Center, has demonstrated that not all "Junkyards" are dogs when it comes to serving customers.
For instance, the gym opens at 6 a.m., allowing members to pump up early before they head to work or school. There are special rates for members of local businesses and high school students.
Sells' attention to customer service, along with other factors, have combined to make the gym a successful small business.
"We've always had good business," Sells said in an interview at the gym, located at 535 Gateway Dr. "This business has made money from day one."
AND, SELLS SAID, he has made money without using cut-throat tactics, which differentiates his gym from many health clubs in Kansas City and other larger towns. At Junkyard's, potential members are never given a hard sell.
"Some people come in and tell me that they want to lose weight," Sells said. "I may look at them and say, `You don't need a membership, you need to learn how to eat.' And we would suggest to them some things they could do with their diet."
Sells said he also doesn't try to convince anyone that weightlifting is the only fitness program for them. He said he encourages potential members to look around at other health clubs before deciding to join Junkyard's.
"If they want to work out, maybe racquetball is their cup of tea," he said.
"We try to be honest."
Sells said the gym has been a consistent money-maker despite the fact that regular rates $105 for three months and $300 per year haven't gone up since April 4, 1984, when the gym opened.
RATES FOR Kansas University students, the customers that Sells describes as "my bread and butter," have increased moderately.
The prices are apparently right, because the gym has had a steady stream of members. Sells doesn't keep track of membership, but the last time he checked the gym had 1,400 members.
Sells attributes the solid membership numbers to the public's interest in fitness. Although weightlifting recently came off a boom period, he said, fitness is still very popular.
"I think that the young kids today are more educated. . . more health conscious," he said. "And nowadays, that healthy look is what people want."