Alder Partners Tackles Team-Building Led by Former Navy SEAL

When Alder Partners franchisee Stan DeMartinis Jr. tasked his newly hired human resources director with help assessing the state of the company, the results were surprising.

“We realized our turnover was far higher than ever imagined, and quickly identified the financial and operational impact this has on our business. Through this reporting, I learned that at any given time over half of our club staff have been there for three months or less,” DeMartinis said. “The good news is this also allowed us to see that, once we hit a management level, our turnover slows down significantly, indicating we are on the right path in supporting development from that level.”

The desire to build up his team and focus on leadership development was capped by the message coming through at the PF Franchise Conference concerning culture and team-building, so DeMartinis turned to Stonewall Solutions. Led by former Division I athlete and Navy SEAL Jason Kuhn, Stonewall Solutions visited Alder Partners’ Riverdale, Georgia, training facility in April for a full day of curriculum with the franchise group’s corporate staff, club managers and assistant managers.

“When I heard Jason’s story, being a Division I athlete and how he was inspired by 9/11 to become a Navy SEAL, I started thinking about myself a little bit, and the principles he was talking about. I felt like I was able to relate because of my background,” said DeMartinis. “I was a two-sport college athlete, and Mike Rymsha, who runs all of my Atlanta clubs, was the quarterback of our college football team. We were not only teammates but also roommates, so when Mike came on board with Alder, we were able to build our company on a foundation of trust and teamwork that goes back 25 years. It’s that mentality that we are constantly trying to flood through our system. I believe that is the most important part of our job as leadership because, when our team operates with that mentality, I am confident our business will continue to elevate indefinitely.” 

For the training with Alder Partners, Kuhn brought The Fundamentals of Winning curriculum to the classroom and followed it up with an outdoor team-building session based on his experience as a Navy SEAL. “Hopefully, we change the lives of a few people. Primarily with the team drills, what we want to do is build trust in each other and understand the common cause to serve and the value in that. We really want them to understand the value in selfless service and trust and how to build it,” Kuhn said. “We are going to go through leadership development at that grassroots level. How do I lead my family? How do I lead in my everyday life? Communication. Mental toughness. Team culture.”

The morning kicked off with breakfast and time in the classroom. After lunch, Alder Partners moved to a local park where the group participated in warm-up drills and activities that focused on supporting and encouraging team members before breaking into groups for a bit of friendly competition, including moving large tires and 200-pound logs as a team.

“We brought a fair amount of intensity to today’s session, and it was responded to really well. It was fun to see,” said Kuhn. “There will be sore bodies tomorrow, but it will be that good kind of sore, that sense of accomplishment.”

Operations Specialist Derrick Jones, a team member with Alder Partners since 2014, said the program with Stonewall Solutions prepared him to increase his role as a team player and leader. “Because I am already a team player, this experience has taught me how to advance as a team player and how to pat my people on the back and tell them they are doing a good job more than I do sometimes,” he said. “It’s about giving the maximum encouragement; sometimes the minimum isn’t enough.”

Working with Kuhn also led DeMartinis to self-reflection. “This experience caused me to reflect on my own leadership and how I can provide stronger influence to bring out the full potential of this team. I need to do a better job praising you, being appreciative of your unwavering support of me and my vision for this company,” he said in an address to his team. “This has been somewhat life-changing to listen to. I can put my own daily experiences into this outline and know I can do better. I encourage each of you to do the same. I know you all are facing similar challenges, day in and day out, on our gym floors. We are going to get better as a team from this day.”