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Juneau, Anchorage health spas to merge

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

An Anchorage fitness firm will merge with the Juneau Racquet Club, which plans to change local facilities.

After a year of talks, Juneau Racquet Club owners John McConnochie and Jamie Parsons announced Monday afternoon that JRC will join forces with the Alaska Club Network. The merger will change the ownership of the combined company and has sparked tentative plans for structural changes to the Mendenhall Valley and downtown facilities, McConnochie said.

A year ago, McConnochie and Parsons began looking for a way to raise capital for club expansions, which is what led to the merger, McConnochie said.

The Alaska Club Network has been around for 10 years and includes 10 health and fitness clubs in Anchorage, the Mat-Su valleys and Fairbanks. They have a membership of more than 40,000 people.

The merger is expected to be complete by November, according to a press release from Alaska Club Network. JRC then will be known as the Juneau Racquet Club-Alaska Network.

"We've been working with the network owners for years," Parsons said. "There may be some fine-tuning here and there because every operation has its own culture and priorities. But I'm confident we can learn from each other and they won't come charging in here making wholesale changes."

McConnochie said at the outset the more than 2,000 JRC members will not be affected by changes the combined clubs will make. He said membership dues are expected to stay on the same schedule. They currently increase every other year. He also said the amenities and programs offered at the Juneau clubs are not expected to change.

"John and Jamie run a nice operation out there," said Alaska Club Network owner Andrew Eker. "It certainly fits in with the qualities and standards we have for our clubs and we have no plans at this time for changing it."

Parsons said there also are no plans to change the 137-member staff in the Juneau clubs. Parsons said they may add a sales team.

McConnochie and Parsons will become shareholders of the combined corporation with network owners Eker and Tom Behan acting as principals of the company. McConnochie will continue as general manager for JRC and the valley facility, and Gail O'Dell will continue to manage the downtown facility. Though Eker and Behan have controlling interest in the company, McConnochie said the merger was not because the club is in any financial trouble.

"The clubs are good financially," McConnochie said. "It wasn't only expansion we were after but the long-term interests of the clubs."

McConnochie said there are plans for some type of renovation or expansion slated for spring of 2002 but it was too soon to release any details. Parsons said though the owners always have had plans for expansion, which may include a new building, they now would have to run any changes by the principal members of the network.

*****

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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