Finding a Home For Ambition
Proving you can come full-circle with the banks
When Bryan Pachal started Effect Therapy, he wanted to create a space where he could push the limits of massage therapy. His vision included 3D anatomy software to help
educate clients about their own musculoskeletal system in addition to their treatment and a cryo spa that would allow them to do full body cryo treatments “I wanted to help elevate massage therapy, or the perception of massage therapy beyond that as simply a spa or some way to pamper yourself,” Bryan said. “There’s lots of practical
and functional applications for our therapy” With the help of a loan from Community Futures, he was able to build a facility to match his lofty ambitions and provide massage therapy treatments that aren’t available anywhere else in Lethbridge.
Bryan’s dedication to his business dream has found success – so much so that Effect Therapy has even expanded to a second location in the city.
Maintaining control through volatility
After graduating high school, Bryan split his time between pursuing a business degree and working in the oil and gas industry. But before finishing school, he transitioned to working
full-time in oil and gas. Then in 2015, the plummeting price of oil and the resulting upheaval prompted Bryan to reconsider his choice. “I figured I’d done three out of the four years of a business degree and had experience running a small pet store, so I might as well be in business,” Bryan said. “While I’d still have the same volatility, I’d have more say in how I respond to that as opposed to just being told what to do.”
So, as he considered his future endeavors, Bryan remembered how massage had been so helpful during his years playing football. However, he didn’t want to simply create a practice
for himself. “I originally went into it as an entrepreneur, not a massage therapist,” he said.
Knowing he would need some experience in the field, he moved to Lethbridge to train as a massage therapist at Lethbridge College. During his two years there, Bryan threw himself into research, carefully crafting his business plan – and growing to love his new profession. By the time he graduated, he was ready to start his business – but he wasn’t sure the banks
Ambitions bigger than the bank
From the beginning, Bryan didn’t want to follow the tried and true method of finding a small office space for his practice then growing from there. Instead, he wanted to start with a fully-functioning massage therapy space where he could offer cutting-edge treatment. That meant his ask was much higher than the usual massage therapist’s. “I think our ambition was probably our biggest hurdle,” Bryan said. Going into the funding phase, Bryan assumed he’d eventually end up at Community Futures. He’d heard about the program from his time in business school and already knew his vision of a high-tech building for such a new business would put Effect Therapy outside of what banks were willing to tolerate. But still, he had to try. He took his business plan to a bank to see if he could get funding. After some back and forth where the bankers did their best to help, ultimately Bryan didn’t have the history or experience to match his vision – so the bank wouldn’t take a chance on him.
The chance to be heard
With a rejection from his bank in hand, Bryan went to Community Futures to see if they could help. When he was able to sit down and articulate his business plan, his two years of careful
preparation was well-spent. More than that, Bryan was able to have a real conversation with real people, and not rely on a banking algorithm to decide whether he was fit for business. “The bank doesn't seem to like listening to you,” Bryan said. “You’re sitting there thinking, but if I could just tell you this, or I could just show you this’, but you don’t have a chance to respond. At Community Futures, we had that opportunity, which is really good.”
Over a few meetings, Bryan was able to show the potential of his business, and, in return, he was pushed to create and expand on parts of his plans he hadn’t really nailed down, or
considered. This helped him create a more robust strategy so that when Community Futures was ready
to fund his company, his business plan was bulletproof.
Building Effect Therapy
As soon as Bryan received the funding, he started the process of bringing his dream to life. Within months, the building was ready and Bryan opened the doors of Effect Therapy on
the westside, staffed by just three massage therapists – with Bryan and his wife Kira working the front end. Two years later, this bustling business employs 13 staff, including eight massage therapists and five front-end staff. But Bryan didn’t stop there. Leveraging his success on the westside, he went back to the bank to fund another location
on the southside.
“The full circle was the bank that turned us down before, now saw enough history and enough experience to say okay, the second time around, we got you,” Bryan said.
For Community Futures, that’s the perfect success story.