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An electric moment

An electric moment


Steve Smith of Planet Beach

Three-plus years ago Steve Smith, CEO and founder of Planet Beach, noticed the tanning industry was changing. "We couldn't get same-store increases no matter what we did. When you have an entire chain that can't eke out an increase, you've got a problem," he says. Part of that problem was the dermatology community's warning about skin cancer. "The battle's lost if you don't admit your product causes skin cancer; you're living in denial," Smith says. So he set out to create the day spa of the future, using robots instead of people. Planet Beach Contempo Spas employ touchless facials and massages that use technology to deliver the benefits.  And fewer employees are required. Plus, they're repairing sun damage and promoting spray tans. End result? Planets aren't aligning to cause havoc on earth.

Start in franchising: As a licensee for Gold's Gym. It was a difficult run at the time and it motivated me to do something different.

Which was? Opening a tanning salon (1996). It dawned on me that no one was franchising (at the time), and I wanted to bring professionalism to the industry.

How did you decide on your concept's name? It's not a play off Planet Hollywood. I had a neon sign that said Electric Beach (the original tanning salon's name, which could not be trademarked) and Planet Beach meant we would only have to change half the sign.

Sports background: I played arena football. I'm a huge football fan.

Is that what led to your signature Planet Beach rings? I knew I was never going
to have a Super Bowl ring, so I give the guys rings that look like the real thing. (Smith holds a ring ceremony for vice presidents and higher who are world-champion caliber. The heavy gold rings emulate a 10-pound weight, which is why the executives at Planet Beach have stronger right arms than left.)

Perks at the office: A full gym. You can work out anytime as long as it's cool with your supervisor. Also a tanning booth.

Why? I think wellness is a lifestyle and anything we can do to support it is our job. I value physical activity, I think it makes people more productive even if they spend less time at their computers. 

That's what you do for the body, what about the mind? We have a book club meeting where the whole company reads the same book and then we discuss it. (At the time of the interview, the office was reading a tome on multi-unit management.)

Office attire: Work-out clothes. The only time I wear a tie is if I have to go to court.

Numbers that count


Weight, in in ounds, of the world's largest Dairy Queen Blizzard, which was built in Massachusetts in 2005. It was 22 feet tall.

Source: Dairy Queen

3.7 billion

Servings of chicken sandwiches at restaurants in 2007, up 8 percent from the
year before.

Source: NPD Group


Percent increase between 2005 and 2007 in the number of restaurants with asiago
cheese on the menu.

Source: NPD Group


Quarts of frozen dessert, mostly ice cream, each American purchased in 2006.

Source: International Dairy Foods Association

$13.9 billion

The amount Americans spent in 2006 buying ice cream and other frozen desserts at restaurants and ice cream shops.

Source: International Dairy Foods Association


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