From time-to-time I speak with entrepreneurs in my area to learn about their story of small business ownership. Most often these are part of a column I write for the Suwanee Patch. A few weeks ago I sat down with Earl Williams who runs an athletic training facility in Suwanee Georgia. He also gave me a tour of his new facility.
Earl Williams has earned the nick name “coach Earl” from his clients out of respect and admiration for his work. He’s trained thousands of individuals over the years ranging from youth all the way to professional adult athletes. He’s committed to his mission to provide performance training for athletes or those who just want to keep their physical condition in top shape.
Williams latest entrepreneurial creation is Georgia Sports Performance (GSP) located on Old Peachtree Road in Suwanee. GSP offers skills training for specific sports such as football, baseball, lacrosse, and basketball. The facility staff also provides personal performance training in areas such as strength, speed, balance, and agility.
“I’m very detailed and meticulous about the quality of instruction. How things are done, the mechanics behind it. This increases the confidence of the athlete.” –Earl Williams
“For me this type of program is ongoing. It keeps athletes fit and in shape and instills in them the right habits” says Williams. He trains on flat surface, hills, and even sand. Williams says the the foundation of the performance training is similar for all athletes, but then varies based on what the individual athlete is trying to accomplish or the specific sport they playing.
The system and message is resonating around the area. On a recent trip, I found all the areas in the facility in full-use by clients. Their ages ranged from young children to middle-aged adults. Each group was following an instructor and the sessions were intense.
If you want to see a resume of successful athletes then look no farther than the “wall of champions” just off the GSP lobby. The wall has pictures of athletes that Williams has trained. The athletes cover multiple sports and even some well known professional names. Williams is also currently connected with Suwanee high schools to train student athletes at Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge, and North Gwinnett.
Williams was a three sport athlete in high school playing football, baseball and wrestling. He took his athletic passion for sports to the collegiate level and wrestled on scholarship for three years. But that wasn’t the end of organized athletics for him as he played a little more baseball in a professional summer league as well.
But what’s most impressive about Williams’ early adult days is the forming of his entrepreneurial spirit. He worked in the health club industry to pay for much of his college expenses while study nutrition and exercise science. While he was a college student he purchased The Health Machine in Sacramento California. It was a small health club that he managed for two years before selling it back to the previous owner. The experience of owning and operating his own business was a critical piece of molding Williams’ career aspirations.
Williams moved to the Atlanta area to take a job at Bally. After a time he changed jobs to work at Sports Life and in eight years moved from an entry level position to Senior Vice President. When he left Sports Life he received a SBA loan and started his own business, Sports Plex, located in Duluth. Williams owned and operated Sports Plex for 14 years before closing the doors to open GSP in November 2010.
Now, after years of helping others, Williams is as passionate as ever about his work. GSP is a healthy and growing business. He loves for athletes to be consistent in their training looks to develop long relationships. Williams says he wants athletes that come from his facility to represent their family as well as GSP. That’s because GSP represents more than just a business to Williams, it represents a lifestyle.