As the business grew, GMR outgrew its space next door to Gym America. In 1998, Mike and Kappy moved the company into its own, and current headquarters, here in Lithonia, GA.
Later in 2011, GMR added another 7,500 square feet to build out a warehouse, increasing storage, which provides a total of 32,500sq. feet of warehouse and manufacturing space.
“We also shoot the majority of the stuff for the catalogue in the warehouse,” Mike says. “We got tired of hauling it off to set up in a studio, so we built a 25ft x 40ft wide cyc wall (short for cyclorama) which is a curved white, vinyl sheet drop down.
A few small things are shot in our photographer’s studio. The apparel is shot in local gyms on real gymnasts, but the rest we shoot and produce in-house.”
Always in tandem with the times and technology, one of GMR’s other experienced gymnastics coaches — a former gym owner himself — our assistant production manager, Grant Coulter, developed the gymnastics elements for the 3D rendering software we use to design gym pits and gym spaces. Grant added in dimensions of all the equipment and mats, so we can either integrate what someone already has or put what they’re purchasing from us into their dream gym design.
Using 3D rendering software in combination with Grant’s and Mike’s combined decades of knowledge of how gym programs and trainings flow, we help our customers best maximize their equipment, in their space, for their needs. We ensure training flow is organic and fit for function to accommodate recreational programs, cheerleading, team gymnastics and elite athlete training.
“We understand how all elements of a successful gym work together in real time. We help gym and club owners think through placement of their tumble tracks and vault runways and how they can best couple safety with functionality. We also help gym and club owners plan for revenue drivers like parties, viewing areas, parents nights out…. then we provide the blueprint for our client’s ideal gym!”
*Mike’s eyes really light up as he talks about this*
“Last year, 2016, GMR expanded in a new direction when we began selling parts and equipment for most of the other major suppliers of gymnastics equipment such as Spieth America, AAI, Gymnova, Nissen, Gymtrix, and Janssen Fritzen. We’d already been partnered with Dollamur mats for a while. It was a good decision for all parties involved. It opened doors for us to better provide parts and equipment to our customers, particularly our gym design clients and it allows those companies to reach a wider market through our connection to the community and 37 years of service.”
Service to the gymnastics community, particularly its under-served elements, is something near and dear to Mike and Kappy’s hearts.
For 15 years, Mike and Kappy provided gymnastics equipment to the Special Olympics. (They stopped when the games were moved to Cobb Recreation Gymnastics where the equipment is already, permanently installed). Still, GMR donates products such as tee-shirts, bag and shoes to the Georgia Special Olympics team and, last year, to the national team.
Kappy adds, “Probably our single, biggest charitable donation is with Special Olympics and always has been. Earlier in my career, I taught Special Needs kids in a classroom. I strongly believe that gymnastics is a sport that can be done by everyone, not just elite gymnasts”.
To that end, GMR has enjoyed a long relationship with Cindy Bickman’s group at Chattooga Gymnastics where we offer support to their rhythmic gymnastics team, as they train their athletes and travel to perform and assist other clubs, internationally, with their disability gymnastics programs.
“It was an honor to feature some of Chattooga’s gymnasts in our 2016 catalogue,” says Kappy. “We feel it’s important to increase the visibility of disability gymnastics programs and to include those athletes in media that offers products to the community. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from special needs athletes and their parents who really appreciate seeing themselves represented in and by the industry.”
GMR’s gifts of gymnastics oriented products has not benefitted only the gymnastics community.
Once at a meet, Kappy met a woman connected with the Half the Sky foundation, an organization that works to improve Chinese orphanages and help children in their care.
Kappy learned that kids in Chinese orphanages, at that time, had almost no human contact or cuddling. They were basically placed in cribs where they just sat all day. There was no place for them to play nor was there a mentality that children need human contact, cuddling and space to play.
GMR sent them gymnastics mats to change that. Half the Sky worked with caregivers in the orphanages and trained them to cuddle and foster play for the children on the cushiony mats GMR sent. GMR sent hundreds of mats for several years to help foster change and greater well-being for the little ones in Chinese orphanages. Their gifts, along with work of Half the Sky, served to facilitate a sea change in China, when its economy grew, such that the government was able to offer greater resources to help care for orphaned children.
However, GMR doesn’t reserve its care only for kids without parents. Kappy and Mike, with the help of GMR, also work to rescue dogs, cats and horses.
Three dogs actually live at GMR. They have their own little air conditioned houses with runs and spaces to play. On the weekends, Mike and Kappy often bring the dogs into the office while they work when it’s quiet.
At their home, Mike and Kappy have built a shelter for their adopted cats to come and go with no less than 14 dog living quarters with runs runs and a barn with a pasture for re-homed horses! They and GMR have long made contributions to local rescue groups like Save the Horses and AARF (Atlanta Area Rescue Friends).
To that end, GMR offers their Choco line of grips and vault accessories in the brown, Choco-branded, special leather, a portion of the proceeds from which go to fund hay for horses and the various costs of their dog and cat rescue efforts.
If there’s anything that’s been constant in the 38 year evolution of GMR Gymnastics Sales, Inc. its the passion of its founder Mike and his partner in life and in business, Kappy. Mike and Kappy share a passion for gymnastics, its athletes and the community as a whole. They share compassion for that same community, as well as those who are in need of assistance, be they two or four legged beings.
Mike says, “I grew up with a gymnastics dream. That dream has changed over the years: from competing and winning in the Olympics as an athlete, to helping my boys team succeed in every competition they attended, to succeeding in the gymnastics industry by developing and innovating products and designing gyms that help others realize their gymnastics dreams. For me, it’s been everything gymnastics since I was 10 years old. For GMR, it’s been everything for gymnastics since 1978.”