Entrepreneurship 101: See need, develop need, market need.
Greg Reffner knows the steps well. As the corporate executive officer and owner of CÖR Systems, the Union Mine High graduate and former Diamondback skier and soccer player created and developed The CÖR Bench, a hybrid exercise system that forces core musculature activation and increases range of motion.
The system replaces the foam pad typically found on exercise benches with an inflatable cylinder-shaped tube that’s constructed of 400-denier nylon urethane that’s significantly stronger than a typical exercise ball and very hard to puncture.
The adjustable exercise surface places greater demand on the neuromuscular system than the traditional flat bench and with its many uses, the CÖR Bench can replace multiple pieces of equipment in a gym.
“The benefits are that it makes someone use muscles they normally wouldn’t use on a normal bench,” Reffner said. “It forces you to maintain balance while doing an exercise, which is 10 times harder. Any exercise you can do on a bench you can do on ours.”
Reffner’s idea originated several years ago. While training, Reffner became increasingly unhappy with the equipment available on the market. He heard about the injury to Kings’ player Francisco Garcia, who fractured both wrists when a gym ball he was using burst beneath him.
For a year Reffner’s idea remained on the back burner until while working as a personal trainer, he witnessed an exercise ball fly out from under one of his clients. Seeing it happen and knowing that a number of similar incidents weren’t well documented, gave Reffner incentive to revisit his idea.
First he looked into how to start a business and talked with friends who were taking business courses. Next he wrote a business plan, approached investors, raised capital and finally test-marketed his product. His first demonstration was at El Dorado Hills Sports Club.
“It went really well but I was terrified before (the demonstration) and spent many sleepless nights leading up to it,” Reffner recalled. “But it was cool because I could see what I needed to tweak and I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without that ability to test market.”
Reffner’s now comfortable and confident networking his product. The CÖR Bench debuted at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association’s 30th Anniversary Conference in San Francisco last March and the feedback, both domestic and international, was extremely positive.
Reffner also showcased his bench in July in Las Vegas. Additionally, Reffner promotes his product through social media outlets Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
“I think they’re (trade, vendor shows) important to attend to show you’re a solid company and willing to support the industry. You get so much exposure and develop thousands of leads,” Reffner said.
He’s aligned himself with a manufacturer, already has a vice president of marketing and soon will have a sales director on board. CÖR Systems is also working on getting its first professional athlete endorsement and Reffner has plans to introduce new products in the future..
“Business has picked up really well the last couple of weeks,” said Reffner, whose list of clients include the NBA’s Kings and NFL’s Detroit Lions. “It was slow at first but as word got around it’s picking up and I couldn’t be happier.”
The CÖR Bench is used by the El Dorado Hills Sports Club, several Snap Fitness Centers in the county and several hundred training facilities across the United States. Reffner is also negotiating with the rest of the NFL teams to acquire his product.
Reffner didn’t take a straight line to becoming a young entrepreneur. Rather, the journey was full of twists and turns and his schooling seemed to go in reverse. He went to San Jose State for the Aerospace Engineering program but in two months figured it wasn’t for him and switched to an English major. Next he tried marketing and finally he listed himself as undeclared.
He returned to Placerville to reevaluate what he wanted to do and went to Folsom Lake College focused on kinesiology and exercise science. Reffner moved on to Sac State for the past four years, but has put that on hold to pursue building his company.
The COR Bench retails for $875. Check it out at corsystemsonline.com.