Spending an uncomfortable afternoon in an airport inspired Mark Eberhardt, 51, to come up with a relaxing way to wait for a flight—he imagined how nice it would be to sit in one of those fancy massage chairs he’d seen before in high-end stores.
With a background as a stockbroker, however, it was a challenge for him to modify the chair to accept cash—not to mention the hurdle of getting it into malls and airports. Many people, without really understanding the concept of the chair, recoiled at the word massage, thinking it was something illicit. And getting a foothold in airport concourses is not generally an easy prospect for any company—let alone a new business. Eberhardt had to meet with people face to face and actually show them the chair to get them to appreciate his idea.
In 1996, Eberhardt got the chair into Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. To date, First Class Seats are in 125 shopping malls, and Eberhardt has plans to expand into more airports and malls around the country. With 2004 sales expected to hit $4 million, it seems like relaxing is the way of the future.
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