Club Insider

Dr. Gerry Faust Passes Away – A Special Tribute and Expression of Appreciation to Gerry

Posted: November 5, 2019 in Other News

Dr. Gerry FaustDr. Gerry Faust

By: Norm Cates

POWAY, CA – The late Dr. Gerry Faust, 77, was born on January 1st, 1942 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The great man was truly one of a kind… a true gentleman and a vastly experienced and extremely highly qualified man in his field who leaves huge footprints in the world of high-level management training and education for all who follow him. Some people journey through life and leave footprints wherever they go, footprints of love and kindness, compassion and courage, humor and inspiration, faith and joy. Dr. Gerry Faust was one of those very special people. Even when they’re gone, we can still look back and clearly see the trail of greatness they’ve left behind, a trail bright with hope that invites us to follow.

Dr. Gerry Faust produced some of the finest tools there are for business management training. And, he created a host of Roundtable relationships where his clients share their knowledge, experience and talents with each other. He leads the groups so their sharing is, in essence, a guide for them to navigate the sometimes very rough waters of business… no matter what the hazards may be.

Dr. Gerry Faust’s educational background leaves no doubt of his capacity for higher learning, having completed his Bachelor’s in English and Education at St. John’s University in Minnesota, as well as a Master’s and a Ph.D in Psychology at the University of Illinois. Additionally, his sports background in football and wrestling during those formative years, and the lessons learned from those experiences continued to resonate in his style of leadership. Later, his excellence in business, across numerous industries, also leaves no doubt about his ability to convert strategic planning and thinking into actionable objectives that create success.

In the mid-1980s, the health and fitness club industry was introduced to Dr. Faust with a keynote speech he gave at IHRSA. Since then, he developed a true passion for this industry, and there is no doubt that he has contributed towards making it better than it was. Tying it all together and providing the rock of strength was his top priority of family. Together, with his wife Terrie, they share six children, Steve, Kim, Brian, Mark, Ryan and Scott, and many more grandchildren. Additionally, they always did a masterful job of effectively working together.

As Gerry was a proud supporter of his alma mater, St John’s University in Minnesota, and of those military and first responder heroes that have bravely served our country, the family asks that in lieu of flowers a donation be made in memory of Gerry Faust to St John’s University or to the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Funeral Services for the celebration of his life have been scheduled for Wednesday, November 20th in Rancho Bernardo (San Diego):

10:00 AM – Funeral Mass at San Rafael Parish (17252 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego, CA 92128)

1:00 PM – Reception at Rancho Bernardo Country Club (12280 Greens East Rd, San Diego, CA 92128)

There will also be a Vigil at San Rafael the evening before (November 19th at 6PM) at San Rafael Parish Chapel.

Comments From Long-time Friends of Dr. Gerry Faust

I asked several associates of Gerry Faust what they remember about him as a person and in the way they knew him, what he taught them, how he helped their business, his role in the club industry and each one’s favorite memory.

Rick Caro, Founder of New York City-based Management Vision, Inc., IHRSA Co-Founder and former President, and long-time highly successful club consultant, should be given credit for discovering and bringing the great Dr. Gerry Faust to our industry because it was Rick who discovered Gerry, vetted him and paved the way for him to establish four Faust Roundtable Groups. While doing so, this led to the spinning off of many more Roundtable groups produced and delivered to our industry by Dr. Faust’s friend and long-time Associate, Will Phillips (See Later Comments).

Rick Caro commented on the life and times of Gerry Faust:

Rick CaroRick Caro

“When I recruited Gerry in 1984 to the health club industry, it was because I learned that we were ignorant of the concept of a business life cycle, not clear where a club fit into the concept and full of current and future club challenges. I learned that we did not truly understand the building blocks of organizational structure, culture and a methodology to deal with key company projects. So, Gerry came along at a time when the industry was dominated by entrepreneurs who had a penchant to learn and a need for improvement.

He first served as a keynoter for IHRSA. Then, he and I created the first Roundtable group of non-competing club leaders. We devised a format that involved sharing confidential information, often taking on a major problem area jointly, a major educational presentation by Gerry, and regular issues and problems that individuals were encountering. He even taught us a methodology on how to present such problems and to manage the feedback from caring fellow club leaders.

Dr. Gerry Faust and Rick CaroDr. Gerry Faust and Rick Caro

He was a gifted presenter. He often referred to previous client learnings from other industries. He was a master of synthesizing deep, specific discussions with key takeaways. His humor was paramount. His caring attitude was prevalent. He developed mentoring relationships with many in the industry. He created a library of presentations for all. He was a great storyteller, an exceptional researcher, a prolific author and an amazing presenter. He was a thought leader.

But, he was a friend to so many. For that, he will be missed the most. I cannot articulate what a difference maker he was for our industry. His legacy is huge. I already feel the loss.” –Rick Caro

Comments From Will Phillips, Founder REX Roundtables for Executives:

Will PhillipsWill Phillips

“I first met Gerry Faust in San Diego 42 years ago. He was, what else would you expect, doing a presentation with a flipchart. I’m not sure if he was talking about his company, Courseware, which provided comprehensive instructional design development and integration of instructional materials for high-tech companies and military fighter planes, or whether he was talking about Amway. Gerry was one of those Amway people who make it up into the realms of diamond, if not more. He made it all sound so easy. I marveled at his sales skills.

A few days after meeting Gerry, I had my first meeting with Ichak Adizes in Los Angeles. He was one of the two consultants I wanted to connect with when I moved from Boston to California. I spent a good part of the day with Ichak as he exposed me to an extraordinarily systemic, comprehensive approach to organizational change. He also explained to me his struggle communicating some very complex and deep concepts and practices to his business clients. I immediately thought of Gerry.

A few days later, Gerry and I drove from San Diego to Los Angeles and began a three-way partnership where we worked closely together for a decade serving clients all over the world, such as American Airlines, Domino’s Pizza, and Bank of America. The concepts Gerry and I learned from Ichak are the ones many of you have heard of: PAEI, Life Cycle, and Capi™.

Ichak excelled at observing executive behavior and organizational success and failures then extracting out of that 13 powerful ways of improving an organization. Gerry Faust became the greatest deliverer of these ideas in the business world. Gerry excelled at understanding the customers’ needs and deeper motivations. This enabled him to connect with clients in an extraordinarily effective and meaningful way to bring about change and improvement.

In the midst of our consulting partnership, I remember intense client/consulting review sessions in our office where each of us presented what we were doing and why and how it was working with our clients. Gerry focused on whether we were connecting with the client and whether we were getting results with our consulting for the client. Working with Gerry developed my business smarts, those back of the envelope quick insights that are right on target.

As an outdoorsman, Gerry and I also shared a deep connection for adventure in the wild, his hunting and fishing, and my mountain climbing.

In the early ’80s, both Gerry and I were consistently speaking to executive groups, then called TEC, now Vistage, once or twice a month. This experience moved some of our focus from large, public companies to small, privately held ones. We saw tremendous advantages in working with owners over hired CEOs. But, we were used to charging hundreds of thousands dollar-a-month retainers with our consulting with the world’s largest public companies. How could a small company afford this level of engagement?

Our experience with Vistage and YPO (Young Presidents Organization) opened the door to executive peer groups as a potential solution. I became enamored with these and began running them with our clients and also locally for the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. I remember the day when Gerry returned from giving an important presentation to the IHRSA Convention and saying he had met this great guy, Rick Caro, who loved his presentation and was interested in putting together a small group of club owners to work with Gerry. Thus, the first Club Industry Roundtable was born. Shortly thereafter, I started the second Club Industry Roundtable under the auspices of REX Roundtables for EXecutives. REX now has close to 200 clubs worldwide involved in roundtables in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. None of this would’ve happened without Gerry’s initial breakthrough presentation at the IHRSA Convention.” –Will Phillips

Comments From John McCarthy, Executive Director Emeritus of IHRSA:

John McCarthyJohn McCarthy

“In a sense, Gerry Faust founded a graduate school for men and women who had already experienced success in the health club industry. He did this by bringing industry leaders together in such a way that they would benefit not only from Gerry’s own experience as a consultant to other industries, but that these leaders would also educate one another by each of them being very open and revealing about their successes and failures.

In short, Gerry founded something that became so valuable to its participants that it will continue for years and decades to come… and what’s even more, Gerry did it with his own exceptional sense of humor and camaraderie that made the experience uniquely enjoyable to all who were a part of it. Gerry will be missed, not only for what he achieved, but even more, much more, for who he was. God rest him and bless him.” –John McCarthy

Comments From Joe Moore, President & CEO of IHRSA:

Joe MooreJoe Moore

“Gerry was so very intelligent and accomplished but never acted judgmental. He was always good natured and had the ability to teach people how to think for themselves. He always had a great story, knowing exactly how to phrase his words for maximum effect. It was fun to be in Gerry’s presence. Just last month, I dusted off the Entrepreneurial Board Game he created and had to smile at my memories of his enthusiasm. I was sad to hear the news of his passing, but I’m happy that Gerry was my friend.” –Joe Moore

Comments From Cecil Spearman, Founder and CEO of the Spearman Clubs:

Cecil and Jean SpearmanCecil and Jean Spearman

“I met Gerry Faust when I was fortunate to be invited to join the Faust Roundtable #1. I spent 22 years in the medical supply business, including six years as President of the second largest company in that industry. I had built and operated an indoor tennis club as a partner with my boss at American Hospital Supply before leaving American to become President of his competitor. I bought out my partner once I became his competitor and operated a tennis club in Illinois while living in California. In 1984, I decided to change careers and work full-time in the club business. I bought The Laguna Niguel Racquet Club in 1984. I joined IHRSA and became involved with IHRSA leadership and management. As a result of IHRSA, I met several of the founders of the Association and was invited to join Roundtable #1… a very lucky break for me and my company.

Becoming a member of this Roundtable was the beginning of the second phase of my business career. Gerry was immediately aware that my business experience was extensive, but my knowledge of managing multi-sport clubs was limited. He helped me understand the difference between indoor clubs and multi-sport clubs. He helped me get organized to operate a club company and to set goals and operating plans. Gerry was the primary reason that I was able to make the move from the medical supply industry to club ownership and management successfully. With his help, Gerry was the reason we enjoyed great success in operating our clubs for 35 years and a substantial growth in assets.

Gerry advised on organization, setting goals and problem solving. He helped me win property tax challenges, and he helped immensely in making the move from large public companies to a small, family-owned company operating in a new industry. Gerry became a close friend, as well as a trusted advisor. He was fun to work with, and he always had a joke to smooth over any challenge. He was brilliant but always cheerful, and he always worked WITH me as we faced challenges TOGETHER. Gerry Faust was a joy to work with in solving problems. He will be missed GREATLY, but his legend will live on through the people he helped to make successful. Long Live the Legend of Gerry Faust!” –Cecil Spearman

Comments From Bill McBride, Owner of BMC3 and CEO of Active Wellness:

Bill McBrideBill McBride

“Gerry was a friend, mentor and inspiration to me personally and professionally. I grew up in the industry learning from Gerry directly as well as from others Gerry influenced and taught. Early on in my career, I heard him speak and read his book, Responsible Managers Get Results. I loved, and still do, his no-nonsense approach to human nature, business lifecycle and teamwork styles. I also appreciated his humor, wonderful story telling and easygoing demeanor. Gerry will be missed by his dear and wonderful immediate family AND his broader industry family. He was a wonderful, smart, caring teacher who gave the world much more than he took. I had the privilege of his friendship, mentorship, facilitation on Roundtable #1 and also got to do a little business with him… I am blessed that he played a role in my life. Rest in Peace, Dr. Faust.” –Bill McBride

Comments From Tom Lyneis, Veteran Club Owner and Operator:

Tom LyneisTom Lyneis

“Gerry was a man of vision and enthusiasm. He was ever the optimist and offered encouragement! He was a risk taker. The Faust Roundtable gatherings were always an event and always provided memories as we traveled the country visiting member’s clubs. For many of us, Gerry was the professional guidance and sounding board we needed at the beginnings of the industry. He had a talent for managing and guiding a diverse group of entrepreneurs with strong opinions. He drew upon his own real business and personal experience… his successes and failures across a variety of fields. He had great stories! Best of all, he was a good person with a great heart.” –Tom Lyneis

Comments From Rick Beusman, President of Saw Mill Club:

Rick BeusmanRick Beusman

“I’ve known Gerry for over 30 years as a brilliant management consultant, a dear friend and a guiding light in our industry. Gerry was instrumental in the early years of IHRSA, by helping club operators improve and grow their businesses through data collection and analysis and management leadership training. Gerry created the original business Roundtables for club operators. He and Rick Caro gathered some of the true industry movers and shakers, and through them, helped spread the gospel of incorporating professional business management principles as being crucial to successfully grow our industry.

Gerry was a very quick study on any situation that might arise, and his advice was always sound. He was generally the smartest person in the room. He was also a warm and giving person with a terrific sense of humor.

More importantly, he truly loved the fitness industry and was very passionate about seeing it grow and flourish. It was through Gerry, and people like him, that IHRSA has always been about sharing ideas and best practices for the benefit of the many not just for the few.

Those fortunate enough to know Gerry and his wife, Terrie, were witness to one of the great love stories of our time.

Gerry was a true industry icon and legend. He will be dearly missed. We were all fortunate to have had him in our lives and our industry.” –Rick Beusman

Comments From Jill Kinney, Founder and Chairman of Active Wellness:

Jill KinneyJill Kinney

“Gerry was a big man with a big voice, and he had a huge impact on the health club industry. I met him in New Orleans at one of the first IHRSA conferences where he delivered an inspirational keynote address. He was a psychologist, entrepreneur and successful businessman, and he became a personal consultant to many of the industry leaders through the years. He and Rick Caro developed Roundtables, a forum of 10 – 12 club owners who worked collaboratively under Gerry’s leadership. He encouraged us to develop organizational assessments and evaluate the P,A,E,I types of our people. He was a great strategic planner and made all of us take the time to step aside from the wild ride we were on as the fitness industry was taking off and plan ahead. The Roundtables were meant to improve our business, and they did. But, more importantly, they built lifetime friendships.

What I admired most about Gerry was his love for his family. He adored his wife Terrie, and his kids and grandkids meant the world to him. I remember Gerry welcoming me to the Roundtable in 1990. I was very pregnant with my first child and scheduled to open our first Club One site in a few months. Gerry made me climb up on a chair and sing my Cal fight song in front of the group. We all laughed hysterically when I couldn’t remember the words. He loved to expose authenticity. Gerry can rest in peace knowing that he truly made a difference in the world and that he was truly loved.” –Jill Kinney

Comments From Tim Rhode, Former Owner of Maryland Athletic Club:

Tim RhodeTim Rhode

“Having known Gerry for nearly 30 years, what I remember most are his wisdom and wit. His ability to share useful insight laced with humor made things easy for people to understand and remember. He taught us all about business lifecycles, work styles and how to diagnose and improve our businesses. The Executive Roundtables he introduced to our industry helped to propel many businesses, including ours, to new levels. My favorite memory of Gerry is not a particular event, but the fact that he cared deeply, shared enthusiastically and was determined to make a difference for everyone he worked with. He did all that. I am so grateful to have had him as a mentor and am proud to have had him as a long-time friend. He truly lived his life in Prime.” –Tim Rhode

Comments From Liz Rhode, Former Owner of Maryland Athletic Club:

Liz RhodeLiz Rhode

“The first thing I remember about Gerry is that he was bigger than life itself when you stood in his presence! His light, joy and love of life was contagious and made you want to ‘have what he was having’ sort of in the Harry Met Sally scene. No matter the time or distance apart, Gerry was genuinely delighted to see you again like a true and loyal companion. It was an intentional embrace full of wisdom delivered with love with a side of laughter in between. Gerry taught me that women mattered in business, and he respected their strengths before its time. He was a confident man willing to share successes and challenges in work and home along with his beloved Terrie. He respected Terrie and recognized the amazing job she did… especially with him and their family! Gerry helped our business by mentoring us throughout the years. His pearls of wisdom fueled us when we needed it the most, and he inspired us to be the best for those we served. My favorite memory of Gerry was our after-hours Faust Roundtable dinner meetings where Gerry would always want to sit at the Ladies table because we were a lot more fun! Gerry would say, ‘Save me a seat!’ We know for a fact that a very special seat has been saved in Heaven for Gerry, and it’s one of the best seats in the house! Well done Gerry, a great mentor, coach and above all… a great friend. We love you dearly and know you are bringing continued laughter from above!” –Liz Rhode

Comments From Carol Nalevanko, President of Village Health Clubs and Spas:

“Whenever I think of Gerry Faust it immediately brings a smile to my face. Gerry was a warm and caring person, always willing to help me out with any problem or question, be it business or personal. As a member of the Faust Roundtable, I’ve known Gerry Faust for almost 20 years. I’ve always admired him for his love of his family and his love for the outdoors. Gerry worked with me to assist me in creating one of my first strategic plans for my company, The Village Health Clubs. He also developed an annual employee training program for me. We still use some of Gerry’s trainings to this day. He had an uncanny ability to teach us complicated business strategy by breaking the information down in a way that was simple to understand, and more importantly, easy to implement. My favorite memories of Gerry were the many dinners we shared as part of our Roundtable meetings. It was at these dinners where we really got to know each other, learn about our families and friends, and of course, share some great jokes. I consider Gerry Faust to be a great friend, and I will miss him dearly.” –Carol Nalevanko

Comments From Mark Eisenzimmer, Owner of Cascade Athletic Clubs:

Mark and Debbie EisenzimmerMark and Debbie Eisenzimmer

“Gerry’s impact on our industry, our businesses, our team and our entire family was so profound he has left us a legacy and will not be forgotten. We so loved this man (and his entire family) and are eternally grateful, better people for having him in our lives. He was one of my very best friends, and he will be missed beyond words. We are crushed.” –Mark Eisenzimmer

Comments From Debbie Eisenzimmer, Owner of Cascade Athletic Clubs:

“Gerry Faust first caught our attention as an entertaining and impactful keynote speaker for the athletic club industry. We were quickly drawn to him and joined his infamous Executive Roundtable #1 group 35 years ago. Mark and I became fast friends with Gerry and Terrie. We loved their energy and fabulous marriage. We’ve traveled the world with them. Terri and I loved whooping the guys in pinochle. We flew to each other’s children’s weddings. We even got to partner in developing a health coaching business. Truly, they became some of our most cherished friends. I can’t believe Gerry is gone, and for me, he’s not. I see his smile, hear his laughter, see his light-footed dance moves and live my life in a better place because of the ways he has mentored me, Mark and thousands around us. We both love this man and are sad, but we believe his faith has moved him on to heaven, and we will see him again soon.” –Debbie Eisenzimmer

• • •

I want to thank Rick Caro, Will Phillips, John McCarthy, Joe Moore, Cecil Spearman, Bill McBride, Tom Lyneis, Rick Beusman, Jill Kinney, Tim and Liz Rhode, Carol Nalevenko and Mark and Debbie Eisenzimmer for their time and effort, with virtually zero notice, invested in producing and sending these comments. Thanks to all of you for remembering our good friend, Dr. Gerry Faust, in such a nice and very classy manner.

Last, I want to close this Special Tribute and Expression of Appreciation to Gerry with these words: There is no possible way I can express enough Thanks and Appreciation for the positive impact Gerry Faust had on my life, and the life of Justin Cates, my son and now partner in Club Insider. Without Dr. Faust’s Roundtable #1, it’s very likely that Club Insider would never have existed… ever! So, to Gerry up in Heaven, and to his loving Family down here on Earth, I say: THANK YOU, GERRY! May Gerry Faust Rest In Peace.

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