Leap of faith leads to bigger planning for gymnastics center owner


This piece is presented by Cain Ellsworth & Co.

When Alicia Reiners started Wings Gymnastics Academy in 2011, she had 40 students.

Fast-forward six years and the program has grown to 650 kids. A building Reiners opened less than two years ago is full.

“I always loved gymnastics, but I had no idea I’d do this as a career,” she said. “I started coaching to get out of the house, and when we moved to Sioux Falls, I decided to start the gym.”

Inspired by time working for a gym in Omaha, Reiners wanted to bring a recreational gymnastics option to the Sioux Falls market. She opened Wings in a 1,500-square-foot strip mall in southeast Sioux Falls with what she calls a “preschool-size gym” and quickly drew girls who already had started school.

“I said, ‘How is it possible people are coming here in this type of space?’ So to me, it showed the need for an option that was more recreation-based, and a more family-friendly model from a scheduling perspective.”

She added another 3,000 square feet in the same strip mall two years later, but the spaces weren’t connected, “so people would have to walk around the back of the building to get from one spot to another,” she said.

That didn’t prevent the program from continuing to grow, either. In March 2016, she moved Wings to a new 10,000-square-foot building at 69th Street and Bahnson Avenue.

“I knew if I was going to make this an investment in my family and my business, I wanted to own my own building,” Reiners said. “And it’s full. We’re looking at expansion hopefully in the next year or two.”

Filling up the building was supposed to take five years, according to her business plan. When it happened in 14 months, Reiners started feeling like she “was running in circles,” she said.

“We had hit my goal so fast, I had never prepared for the next step.”

Her lender led her to Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP, where Matt Heemstra is helping her figure out that next step.

Heemstra, a Cain Ellsworth partner and the director of growth and profit solutions, began meeting with Reiners every other week.

“We’re not big enough to have a CFO, but I was really wanting someone who could fulfill that need,” Reiners said. “I’d get these numbers from my bookkeeper, but what do they really mean? We made some money, but what does that mean long term? If this is our goal, do the numbers tell us we’re getting to that goal?”

Reiners’ situation is common among business owners, Heemstra said.

“A lot of small-business owners know somewhere in their head what they want to do, but it’s kind of foggy,” he said. “One way we can help is to put an actual picture together that you can see – one with more meat on it and more of a formal plan. It’s a lot easier to stay focused if you have a clear picture of what that is.”

Alicia Reiners and Matt Heemstra meet frequently to talk about her business.

Reiners and Heemstra have worked through what strengths she brings to the business, what she enjoys most about it and where she can delegate some of her duties.

When she lost her bookkeeper, Cain Ellsworth also took over payroll and bookkeeping for the business.

“One of the things Matt and I are working on now is what type of measures I want in the business,” she added. “Is it price per hour for a class, how many students we need to accomplish certain goals and those types of measures.”

As he evaluates the business, Heemstra said he has become convinced “the sky is kind of the limit” for Wings.

“I think she’s going to continue to do really well,” he said. “She has a service people like and is in a good place location-wise and in a community that’s young and growing. I think it’s kind of a perfect fit. She’s got a lot of energy and drive, and she’s got a plan for how she wants to do this. Our job has been to help her flush out some of those things and put some accountability and structure to it. It will be fun to see where this ends up going, but I think she’s got everything going in her favor, including herself.”

For Reiners, working with the firm “has been about much more than just working through numbers.”

“I feel like for the amount I’ve spent and what they’ve taught me, I’ve been able to cut a lot of costs through finding more efficient ways to do things. It’s far saved me enough to pay that type of bill monthly. Easily. It’s been well worth it. It’s been a really great experience.”

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Leap of faith leads to bigger planning for gymnastics center owner

When Alicia Reiners started Wings Gymnastics in 2011, she had 40 students. Fast-forward six years and the program has grown to 650 kids. A building Reiners opened less than two years ago is full, and she’s planning for the future.

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