MBA Students Open CrossFit Pallas GymMBA Students Open CrossFit Pallas Gym
Passionate about physical fitness and their Ithaca College education, two School of Business graduate students open up a business, CrossFit Pallas.

“No business – no small business, anyway – is successful without a passion for what you do,” said Tim Paulson ’12. “I’ve had a few professors at Ithaca College that oozed with passion in the classes they taught, and I took that enthusiasm and applied it to my own pursuits.’’

Eamon Coyne ’10 has been involved with CrossFit athletic training for nine years, “living and breathing it,” he said. “I am just excited to share that with other people.”

In March 2012, Coyne proposed the idea to Paulson. They would open a gym in Ithaca affiliated with CrossFit, a company which defines itself as “that which optimizes fitness: constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” A pair of veteran athletes, they had each played scholastic ice hockey and for the IC club team and liked the idea of working out at their own CrossFit gym.

Paulson, who received his bachelor’s in accounting, is studying in the MBA-PA program for professional accountancy. A self-described nontraditional student, Coyne graduated from high school in 1999, played one year of Division III hockey and joined the Navy in 2004 to become a communications specialist. A combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was discharged in 2008 and entered IC to study business management. In the MBA program, he’s concentrating in management and organizational development.

Coyne wrote the initial business plan – estimating equipment costs and initial revenue projections, identifying vendors and contacts, describing Ithaca’s demographics and proposing a marketing plan. Paulson analyzed the initial financials to determine whether staff would be independent contractors or employees and to draw up more accurate membership and revenue estimates for the first months. He also set up the pay structure and depreciation schedules.

“The overarching concept that I applied to CrossFit Pallas was conservatism,” said Paulson. “Ithaca College helped to engrain in me that revenue and expense estimates, membership growth rates and equipment budgeting should all be done with a conservative perspective in mind.”

A real estate broker located 711 W. Court St. in Ithaca, and negotiations between the broker and property manager gave the businessmen a low rent and option to buy out the lease after one year. Accounting professor John McKinley, also a lawyer, advised them on the lease.

Paulson called McKinley his mentor: “John has been of great assistance from the start, helping us write our operating agreement, looking over the tax forms I prepared and providing general business wisdom whenever we need assistance.”

Paulson utilized what he learned in McKinley’s individual and corporate tax classes, as well as in core accounting classes.

“These classes helped in the formation of the business. Deciding between an LLC and an S Corp. was a much easier task since I had plenty of background with each form of business and their respective benefits and drawbacks,” Paulson said.

Coyne credits his Navy service with teaching him leadership skills, the basis of project management, operations management and organizational behavior.

“What Ithaca College gave me was a context and the confidence to continue to develop these skills,” he said. Management lecturer Heather Lane, MBA ’10 – the owner of Purity Ice Cream – “served as a mentor to me and gave me the confidence to go for it.” And management professor Linda Gasser’s Organizational Development class was vital, Coyne added.

"The creation of CrossFit Pallas by business students Eamon Coyne and Tim Paulson is an excellent example of how our students use the skills and knowledge they learn in classes, get mentoring from our professors and are encouraged to build on their own interests and experience,” said Dean Mary Ellen Zuckerman. “We're very proud of them.”

In addition to their full MBA course load, both owners say they spend 25 to 30 hours a week at CrossFit Pallas. Having completed an audit internship in asset management at KPMG in Philadelphia, Paulson plans to start working there full time in October. He’ll handle the gym’s accounting and finance from afar, while Coyne takes over day-to-day operations. That is, unless Coyne accepts an offer as a project manager for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner program. If that happens, the owners will promote one of their trainers to general manager.

As he chooses between his options, Coyne said, “What lets me sleep at night is knowing that I have a very marketable skill-set that has been strengthened through my formal Ithaca College education and informal personal experience.”

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