MassageSpecialists.com plans expansion

By David Algeo, LocalBusiness.com, January 29, 2001

BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 29 (LocalBusiness.com) -- MassageSpecialists.com, whose massage therapists work chiefly with corporate clients such as IBM, Qwest, MatchLogic and OmegaTech, is rubbing its way toward the big time.

The Boulder company plans to raise venture capital this year and open offices in Denver, Longmont and Broomfield. Thereafter, MassageSpecialists will consider taking its business model to other states, said Dirk McCuistion, founder, CEO and president.

"We'd like to nail down the local market and open five or six locations in Colorado before we expand to another state," McCuistion said in an interview. "We feel there is plenty of business here and we don't want to get spread too thinly."

McCuistion is a certified massage and neuromuscular therapist and former instructor of anatomy at San Diego State University. He also has taught neuromuscular therapy at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy.

"This (business) is the evolution of my own private practice," he said. "I started out as a massage therapist in 1995. One of my clients who was fairly Web-enabled said, 'Why don't you do online scheduling?' Initially, I thought it was crazy. Why would you want to do that? At the time, I was working with Quantuum and Qwest and other companies and I had started hiring other therapists to do the work -- onsite massage therapy.

"I also was doing seminars on repetitive stress injuries and ergonomics for netLibrary and Qwest. I asked what they would think about online scheduling and the response was, 'Oh, yes, definitely.' "

The privately held company set up a Website, enabling clients and prospective clients to learn about the company online and to schedule appointments through the Internet.

Today, 18 people work for MassageSpecialists.com. Although the company's lone office is in Boulder, it offers massages throughout the Boulder-Denver area.

Most massages are provided in client companies' offices. Companies increasingly offer massages as a perk to employees, McCuisition said. MassageSpecialists also visits clients at their homes.

A 30-minute massage costs $35. A 15-minute onsite chair massage costs $15.

The company also advises businesses on ergonomic issues.

"Massage treatment is only as strong as the habits the person engages in before or after their therapy session," McCuistion said. "We can treat a problem and make a person feel better, but it will re-occur if you don't change the environment or the habit that created the problem."

The company is profitable. Sales have grown 360 percent in the past six months, McCuistion said, adding that he expects revenue to grow 150 percent this year. Staffing is likely to reach 25 in a year.

"We are poised for a fantastic year," McCuistion said, adding that he hopes to open an Interlocken office this fall. "Then we might do something in Denver and Longmont."

This winter, McCuistion is working on a business plan to present to prospective investors.

"I have talked to some VCs and they have said, basically, 'The type of return we are looking for in a short period of time is a 100-to-1 or 1,000-to-1 model, like a PriceLine.com.' And I say, 'Yeah, but we are profitable.' I think the mix of traditional business model with the Web is the way to go. I don't think people are using the Web any less than they were a year ago."

David Algeo covers the Denver region for LocalBusiness.com. E-mail him with story ideas or comments.


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