Photography by Michael Baxley
‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ – these powerful words are uniquely and undeniably American. This American Dreams series features ordinary people with extraordinary stories of success and advice for making the most of your dreams. It reiterates the importance of shop local + share local, a part of our culture that makes Central Arkansas unique.
CEO of The Athletic Clubs Frank Lawrence keeps his eyes open and ears perked to what other businesses are doing well so that he can apply those ‘best practices’ to improve the experience for his members.
“When I walk into an establishment or use a service, I’m constantly asking myself, ‘Is there something here we can adopt that would make us better?’ For me, it’s like hitting the jackpot when I find a better way or a new idea. I love to refine and reinvent.”
In addition to always cultivating new and better ideas, Frank recognizes the importance of building relationships. “You’ve got to understand people and how to motivate them, so those relational skills are huge,” he says. “The mindset of service and hospitality is a huge component.”
Frank and his partners acquired The Athletic Clubs – which includes the Little Rock Athletic Club, Little Rock Racquet Club, North Little Rock Athletic Club and Downtown Athletic Club – in 2013 and continue to serve a community of tennis players, swimmers and health club enthusiasts with additional amenities and services. “Take a minute and think about all of the planning and work it takes to make guests feel special when you invite them to your home. We try and run our business with that mindset, and it’s a huge undertaking,” Frank explains. “It takes amazing work ethic and high character to manage this day after day. We only look for great staff members.”
With acute focus on the success of his club and its members, Frank draws inspiration from the words of author James Michener, who says, “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play…He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.”
Best Business Advice: enjoy the process, connect and love people
Business Perk: the best playground in town