Greg Paez, an electronic security specialist who has ventured into wellness industry, stands next to one of the saunas at his new business, Stretch 360 in Clovis. Photos by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
Chances are you wouldn’t hire a gardener to fix your car’s transmission any more than you might have a wedding planner perform your colonoscopy or have a house painter pilot a jumbo jet.
But Greg Paez isn’t one to shy away from trying something different. That’s why after co-owning and running a successful electronic security company going on a dozen years, the Clovis man has decided to get into a new business — opening a wellness spa in the Valley.
Stretch 360 opened in the second week of March at 334 E. Shaw Ave. in Clovis, and Paez plans to open another in Bakersfield, possibly in July, and a third in Madera not long after that.
The business offers customers massages and other therapeutic services, and a key factor is that they’re provided by licensed massage therapists, as well as students in training from local massage schools.
Wisely, “I don’t do any massages. I wouldn’t know what I’m doing,” said Paez, who started at age 18 helping install electronic security systems and four year later helped start his own security business, Clovis-based Techtronix, Inc.
Today, the company installs security systems and cameras in homes and businesses across the southern end of the Valley, though its bread and butter is installing and maintaining security cameras and alarms in school and commuter buses across California.
Business has been good, in part because of new requirements for school bus alarms imposed by the state and the growth of businesses in the Valley as the region has recovered from the Great Recession, Paez said, “And when that goes up, there’s more business for us.”
So why is a man more comfortable working with circuit boards and designing electronic systems getting into a business focused on relaxation?
“I opened up this business in 2007,” Paez said of Techtronix. “When you open up a business, you’re all gung-ho about doing it. You’ve got that drive and fire to succeed. Business is going good, and I love it, but I kind of wanted to have that feeling again, like I need to get my butt up and get rolling.
“I wanted to get into something I know nothing about, and I’ve got to make it work.”
As for how he picked a business so far afield from his own, that was inspired by his security business.
“I do a lot of gyms. I see people trying to take care of themselves. They’re eating right, they’re working out,” and Paez said he heard many of them ask about the availability of masseuses and saunas, which got him thinking about a year ago that the growing “self care” industry of people getting themselves fitter could go hand in hand with a different sort of self care — one focusing on relaxation and stress relief.
“The idea started rolling around in my head, and I said, ‘you know what? I’m going to open up something that caters to this market ad see if I can make it work.’”
Not that he knew anything about the industry, but Paez said he spent about a month researching the sort of business he envisioned — from licensing rules to the costs of massage tables and saunas — and also spoke with the staff at three local massage schools to “pick their brains.”
In addition, he spoke to friends, family and clients to find out what they thought of his idea before pulling the trigger and spending five weeks converting office space in a medical building into Stretch 360.
“I kind of went in head first. I did it really fast. I didn’t want to wait to get it done” and risk losing the energy that had driven him to start the new venture, Paez said.
Of course, he hired a manager and licensed masseuses to work with clients and run the business day to day, along with some interns from the massage schools.
For his part, Paez said he has been busy as a salesman, which has included trying to get his security clients to promote Stretch 360 to their employees and offering them group rates for services.
And if you believe Paez has opened just another massage parlor, he would dispute that.
“I didn’t just want the massage. I wanted the sauna, I wanted the cupping therapy,” he said, referring to the use of suction cups attached and removed from a person’s back to remove toxins from the body.
In addition, cupping — which Paez plans to start offering in May — reportedly also helps with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation as a type of deep-tissue massage.
“There are a lot of massage places. I’m trying to create a different atmosphere,” which includes offering private massage rooms and a couples massage room, as well as masseuses asking clients about their massages to find out their preference and documenting that “So next time you come in, we know what you like, what you need. We’re trying to cater the massage to the individual.
“It’s total body wellness from head to toe, and that’s where the 360 [degrees] comes from, because it’s all around,” Paez said.
One of the common complaints he heard in his research was that massages were costly, so Paez said he has set his prices low, so people who might not otherwise be able to afford massages could get some pampering.
As part of his business plan, Paez intends for all his Stretch 360s to be close to health clubs, and his first is within a block of three.
All have agreed to put flyers for his business in their lobbies, and he has held raffles at the clubs for massages to drum up business. Next he plans to ask the gym managers to recommend Stretch 360 when their clients inquire about massages and saunas.
As for how his novice business is doing, Paez said, “The first two weeks was a slow start, but every week the customers are just doubling,” with some becoming regulars.