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On the Job with Tony Powell

"On the Job with...." is a weekly Sunday Inc. series, spotlighting area business owners and executives. Today's interview is with Tony Powell, president of Tony's Gym Inc. and Tony Powell Properties, LLC.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. Get a hair cut and some nice clothes.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. I was 11 years old and I bought a baseball glove.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Paychecks.

Q. What was your first job?

A. When I was 11 and 12 years old, I was a bag boy at the IGA Grocery store in Newton.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I was interested in weightlifting and bodybuilding, so I bought a gym.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. I've always admired Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Put your nose to the grind, work hard and give your customers more than their money's worth.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. Cell phones. They have their purpose, but are overused and can be a big distraction in the workplace. We have a no cell phones at work policy.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. A one-subject 70-sheet spiral notebook. No gadgets.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. "Think Like a Champion" by Donald Trump. It was given to me by my father. I read The Albany Herald daily, without fail. I also read monthly fitness management magazines and books that teach and motivate.

Q. I'm up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. I work during the day and night, so I'm not a real early riser. Normally up by 8 a.m., cook breakfast, take my three-year-old son to daycare and at work by 10 a.m.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Working out and spending time at the beach.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. Opening out-of-town gyms. Big mistake.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Doing what I have a passion for and helping others enjoy the fitness.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Nothing. I really enjoy what I do.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Math

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. Probably a personal trainer at a beach resort.

Q. Finish this thought; "on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. Working out. Hanging out at the beach and spending time with my family.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Perseverance.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. The world is always changing and we have to make adjustments to survive and prosper.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. I don't own an iPod, but I enjoy listening to 80s, classic rock and today's country.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. I think locally owned and operated businesses will become the backbone of our community.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken? Why?

A. I'm not a big traveler. I really enjoy spending time at Panama City Beach, Fla. The beaches are beautiful and it's close to home.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Gyms getting larger and becoming more of a part of mainstream business.