After the construction dust clears this December, Columbia Fitness will boast a new 8,500-sq.-ft. building with its offices, showroom and warehouse all in its current location at 433 East Columbia Drive, Kennewick.
More than 15 years ago, Orien Joseph (OJ) Fiander bought the local business, which was formerly part of 53-year-old Kennewick Schwinn. During the past decade-and-a-half, the business has grown by leaps and bounds, growth that necessitated expansion.
“Current business growth is really forcing our hand to build it now. This has been on our radar for several years and we are extremely excited about bringing this experience to our customers, along with being a part of the growth in this area,” Fiander said.
Columbia Fitness has seen dramatic growth since Fiander bought it.
“We are currently busting out of the seams not only at our current location, but also including a large 6,500-sq.-ft. warehouse that we lease from the Port of Pasco,” Fiander said. “To combine all our inventory in one space is going to be something unique that is not seen anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.”
The new building will be one huge fitness equipment complex, featuring both new and used exercise equipment.
“Our existing store gets lots of compliments in terms of people being surprised that a store like ours exists. It’s going to be extremely dramatic with the new building. It will allow us to stockpile some accessory items like dumbbells and plates like never before,” Fiander said.
The new building’s main floor will consist of 7,500 sq. ft. with an additional 1,000 sq. ft. of office space upstairs. An old house and trees were torn down to make way for the new construction. The existing building will become a showroom for new and used equipment.
“It is going to be absolutely incredible,” Fiander said. Columbia Fitness is all about exercise – commercial and residential. The company’s 11 full-time employees sell, repair, service, refurbish and paint exercise equipment.
“It is the easiest thing to come on down to our showroom and try out the equipment and talk to our staff about what you are needing—everything from how-to, weight loss, what equipment is best for you, room layout—we do it all,” Fiander said.
Columbia Fitness has done custom fabrication for Washington State University, University of Idaho, Gonzaga University, Central Washington University, Yakama Nation, Seattle Seahawks, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Armstrong Fitness and more.
Another division of the business, Frog Pool and Spa, services pools and spas, and Fiander said it is a perk for existing customers who like a one-stop service company.
At first, Columbia Fitness was solely a commercial exercise equipment provider and service company.
“We have evolved over the years to have a complete showroom floor focused on retail customers, giving our residential clients lots of quality choices in exercise equipment—over 17 ellipticals, tons of treadmills and bikes, not to mention free weights,” Fiander said.
The new space will assist the company to better provide for its customers.
“We are expanding our market reach and convenience to our customers. The new and old space will be for just housing exercise equipment with a few surprises spring of 2017. The bigger building will also give us more breathing room and be able to house demonstrations,” Fiander said. He’s especially excited about the built-in turf, in-house offices, room layout-design team, in-house upholstery, and in-house custom painting. He also appreciates the opportunities afforded through small business, especially the chance to learn and grow.
“Being self-employed is an adventure in itself; anyone who is self-employed will tell you that. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you don’t. You have to always be on your ‘A game,’ constantly learning,” Fiander said. “That is the most challenging part; I keep looking for the business cruise control button but I can’t seem to find it. The satisfaction comes from the challenge. I love what I do.”
He believes small business is summed up in the quote, ‘The enemy of the best is not the worst, the enemy of the best is just fine,’ which requires him to continue “redefining who we are and what we do.”
One of the most exciting parts of Fiander’s work currently is the newly created Native American Division of Columbia Fitness, with the goal of bringing “strength and wellness to our people by inspiring Natives to lead healthy, happy lives.” Fiander is an enrolled member of the Grand Ronde Tribe in Oregon and grew up on the Yakama reservation.
“We are a Native American-owned business. We have had the pleasure working with local tribes lately—extremely satisfying work. We recently launched a Native American Division with the sole objective of helping Indian country—there is a huge need,” Fiander said. “In fact, we just came back from the Native American Economic Conference where we had a booth. I was also recently asked if I would speak at the upcoming Native American Health and Fitness Conference in January.”
The business owner is appreciative of the employees that make Columbia Fitness run smoothly.
“When people come to our store, they not only get to test lots of equipment but also get to work with a team that really knows their goods. We are trainers, triathletes, mountain climbers, surfers, avid hikers, cyclists and overall exercise enthusiasts,” he said.
Fiander’s short-term goal is to prepare all systems in anticipation of the new building’s finish in about five months.
“We are constantly trying to find ways to better serve our customers and the new building will give us the space to do so,” he said. Long-term goals include making the new building a destination stop for anyone looking for exercise equipment, along with growing the Native Division.
No matter the goals, Columbia Fitness’ mission will continue.
“We believe that exercise is the foundation to a healthy life, and through exercise, you can truly enjoy what the Creator has given us,” Fiander said.
Columbia Fitness is located at 433 East Columbia Drive, Kennewick. Reach them by calling 509-585-2366 or visit www.columbiafitness.com.
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