Meet Tyler Danen | Founder and CEO
We had the good fortune of connecting with Tyler Danen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tyler, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The success of FITBENCH truly stems from the people that make up the brand. Since getting the idea off the ground in 2016 we have relied heavily on our close relationships and contacts in the industry. What started as a “light bulb idea” was brought to fruition from the people in the boutique fitness space who helped in perfecting the idea that is now FITBENCH. Every detail of each product we offer was derived from feedback and how we can make the bench the most versatile, space-saving, and safest workout bench on the market.
Now, 6 years later, the success of the brand continues to thrive by nurturing those relationships and seeking out more. We emerged as the first bench of its kind in this market and have created a product category, but instead of owning the brand name – we share it with our customers. We feel that a big part of our success has been from being open to partnerships, allowing our customers to display their brand right next to ours and be an avenue for our customers to feel like the product is truly theirs.
As a company we stand behind our product and our brand giving our customers 100% confidence. Our small but mighty team make up the groundwork of everything we do and we rely heavily on our core values to stay humble and continue innovating the industry.
What should our readers know about your business?
FITBENCH wasn’t built over night. I think there are a lot of fake entrepreneurs out there who tell the “get rich quick” story and that just isn’t true. Owning a business is very similar to starting a bonfire. First you start with the smallest twigs, sticks, leaves – whatever you can get your hands on. In the business case, this is your “big idea”. The next step is the spark – or the first flame on these twigs. This is the “idea” and with a little marketing behind it to introduce it to the industry and the world to see if anyone would be interested in your “idea.” The next step is keeping the fire alive and throwing any wood or fuel on that fire to help it grow while always trying to improve it, grow it, and not let that fire get smaller, but brighter.
This is business to me. We started FITBENCH with an idea – a simple one, but it solved a problem immediately for our industry. What sets us apart is that we started this company with nothing. Our initial investment was $1,000 (which I still have the voided check for) and we grew it along the way. We have been through every single adversity that a business could possibly go through. Every hurdle along the way was just another thing that we had to learn and jump over again…and again. We built FITBENCH for the long game. Every decision we have made along the way was for the longevity of the business, not the quick buck or the quick path to fame.
There are many lessons we have learned along the way, but here are a few bullet points that are the secret sauce to why FITBENCH has the brand longevity that we do.
• Sleep on it – hard emails, decisions or conversations should never be made in the moment. Everything can wait until there is a solid and thoughtful decision.
• Surround yourself with amazing people. We have done this at FITBENCH – our team (in my opinion) is the best in the industry. We not only have a fun, energetic, and young crew, but we all work harder than any other company I have ever been involved with. Truly proud of the team we have created.
• Having a spouse or family that has your back no matter what is the key. I could have never done this adventure if my wife was afraid of taking risks. We have risked everything, but in calculated ways. She is 100% why we can do what we do.
• Have a mentor in your industry… I confide and look for guidance from a long-time industry legend who has seen it all and done it all with a humble set of shoulders.
• Innovate or die. Innovation is the key to success. Copycats have come and gone and new ones will come along the way. Sure, these are all a pain in the butt, but they never have as strong of a fire as we do because they didn’t know how to start it or why they started it in the first place. They eventually have an outdated piece of equipment that wasn’t a great solution in the first place. Innovation always wins in the end.
• Always do the right thing – even if it costs you money. The news that you will always do the right thing, will spread amongst your followers.
• Work hard but enjoy what you do. Life is too short to go to a job every day that just doesn’t get you motivated to roll out of bed.
• Be ALL IN. It is very easy to do a little bit of this, or a little bit of that. Find a little cash over here doing this, or a little doing that. My moto is “if you are not ALL IN, you are IN THE WAY. If you are going to do something, do it 100%.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We are lucky enough to have visitors quite often at our FITBENCH Headquarters located in Ixonia, WI, about 45 minutes west of Milwaukee and east of Madison. Here are some of the fun things we like to do with our guests… We first like to give them a tour of our building where we can show them around and introduce our stellar team. We take them through all our products and show room to get a feel for our culture. Then we take them to a little restaurant/bar called Von Loppy’s in Ixonia. This place is NOT fancy, but it gives out of town visitors a feel for what small town Wisconsin is. Plus, the food is really good, and Karen and Lisa make a mean Old Fashioned.
In the afternoon, we grab some boat drinks and head out on lake LaBelle for some catching up and a historic tour around the lake. For Dinner, we can dock the boat downtown Oconomowoc at a local Italian restaurant called Bela Su Largo – which has amazing food and a great atmosphere looking out over the lake. Always a fan favorite. After dinner, we usually grab a night cap at a bar around the corner that is known for Wisconsin Drinks, local beers and good vibes called North48.
Makes you want to visit us in the summer doesn’t it! We would love to have you!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I first must give a shoutout to WOODWAY USA for allowing me to run the business as a side gig and giving FITBENCH a platform. If it wasn’t for their understanding, FITBENCH might not have been a thing. And to Sean Gagnon, CEO at The Abs Company, for acting as a mentor for me. I went to him on day one and he was gracious enough to show me the ropes, make all the right connections, and guide me in the right path of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
And without hesitation, to my wife Erin. Her belief in me and my ideas has pivoted the success of the business that wouldn’t exist without her help. It takes a lot of risk to start and run a business – something that people don’t typically understand or witness from the outside looking in.
Erin has been my absolute backbone and has been there for me on every hard decision we have had to make as a company. Starting and running a business with your spouse is no easy task and we don’t always see eye to eye, but we are both 100% ALL IN. We know what this business means for the future of our family, our employees and team, and our customers for providing a solution within group fitness. Our mission is to empower those around us as we continue the journey and wild ride of FITBENCH.