New Year, New Beginning for Powerhouse Gym

December 29, 2011, 11:12 AM HST · Updated April 2, 11:33 AM
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Max Tsai partnered with Cathy and Wayne Berry to reopen the gym. Photo courtesy of Tsai.

By Sonia Isotov

One door closed and another door opened on December 17, when the new owners of Maui Powerhouse Gym in Kihei, reopened the gym following a month of renovations.

The Powerhouse Gym located in the Azeka Plaza shopping center closed its doors for business due to bankruptcy on November 16, 2011, and within one month, the new owners, MaxBerry, LLC  have the business up and running. The majority owners are Wayne and Cathy Berry, with minority owner Max Tsai handling many day-to-day operations.

“We knew it was important to get the gym opened as quickly as possible to enable people to continue their fitness and health programs,” said Max Tsai of MaxBerry, LLC, the company that bought the assets of the bankrupt gym and has since renovated and reopened the gym in the same location.

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MaxBerry, LLC is a small corporation with three partners that include Maui businessman Max Tsai of TC Kokua, and Maui residents Cathy and Wayne Berry.

The newly renovated weight room of the Maui Powerhouse Gym. Photo courtesy of MaxBerry.

“I think one month is probably a record as far as business turnarounds go. I was actually one of the members from the old club that was shocked and outraged at the abrupt closing, just like everyone else. For me, buying, with my partners, the assets of the club and opening a whole new gym, is actually the fulfillment of a life-long dream.”

Max Tsai has been a businessman for many years on Maui, and also sits on several non-profit boards. He is most known for owning TC Kokua, a call center business, which had been located in the Maui Research and Technology Park for many years. He also currently owns a jewelry store operation in Kihei, too. And, he is a former chair of the Maui United Way.

More importantly, Tsai knows the gym business. He worked for several years at the old 24-Hour Fitness and had a personal training business for almost 20 years. Several years ago, Tsai said that he had been approached by investors to open a gym and had even gone so far as to put together a business plan, design the layout, spec out equipment, and even put together 5-year financial projection.

Max Tsai, president of TC Kokua, accepts the 2009 Small Business Person of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration. Photo courtesy of Tsai.“The funny part is it has come full-circle for me,” said Max Tsai. “This is my hobby, my passion, and I care deeply about the community, so I really want folks to know that this a brand, new business, and we have no connection to the old Powerhouse Gym that went bankrupt. We want the old members to come back and talk to us. We are even offering a ridiculous special going on ’til the end of the year for returning members.”

Although the club will retain the name Maui Powerhouse Gym, Tsai explained that it was a business decision. Although the new owners were not required to, MaxBerry, LLC chose to sign a new licensing contract and use the Powerhouse Gym brand mainly due to its world-wide recognition.

“We are not a franchise. We bought the license and the rights. We wanted the branding of Powerhouse Gym for the corporate support we are getting, which has been terrific, as well as because a lot of visitors come in. Celebrities come and work out, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Rock,” said Max Tsai.

The new owners are excited about the opportunity to bring a clean, professional Powerhouse Gym back into the South Maui neighborhood.

“We are doing a major overhaul of the gym. Come January 2012, we are replacing all the cardio equipment with new equipment worth $150,000 and adding more machines. We are expanding into the old Liberty House area in the back, and will add additional services such as a massage room,” said Tsai.

“We will continue to offer high quality staff to conduct the group exercise classes, and offer personal training to its members. The club will also be focused on a Pro Shop which will have a nutrition bar, supplements and Maui Powerhouse Gym merchandise.

While the new owners recognize the inconvenience placed upon the previous gym’s members by the sudden and unexpected closure, resulting from a bankruptcy filing by the former owner, Tsai explained that all monies collected have unfortunately gone to the previous individual owner, not to Powerhouse Corporation, nor to the new owners.

On their Facebook page, the new owners have posted the following message to previous customers,

NEW INFORMATION ON PREVIOUS MEMBERSHIPS: The new owners were finally able to gain access to member database not available until now due to bankruptcy proceedings. With the full membership information, they can take full assessments of all the PIF memberships and the extent of the damages. They are willing to do their best to “honor” what the previous owner owed to members, and are asking everyone to come in and speak to us directly. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding.

In the meantime, Tsai is promising a brand new gym experience: “The best, nicest looking gym on Maui is my goal.”

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