I just turned 77.
You're a very large distributor of powerlifting gear. How did you come to be involved in powerlifting and end up having it be a business?
I started working out and training my brother Johnny's son, who is my nephew. I was working out but not doing any serious training but I got stronger than he was and entered my first. Bench meet shortly after. My family has always been involved in sports – my sister was a triathlete, Johnny was Mr. Texas in bodybuilding and also trained powerlifting. I went in the Army for two years. I got drafted when I was 20 years old while I was living near Muscle Beach in California but was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. I trained a little bit, but after I left the army I was doing construction work. I finally moved to Dallas and in my thirties I got in the real estate business.
When you say the real estate business, what do you mean exactly?
I started buying and selling houses, simple as that. I got married and together we built up a pretty sizable portfolio of rental houses. I was a broker and and mainly bought houses and rented them. Some we improved and then sold them. Today they call that fix and flip but at one time we had over 200 rental houses. We did that for 15 or 20 years and then we divorced, and she got many of the good ones.
Were you powerlifting (benching) about this time?
I was training and went in my first meet shortly after. I was benching 400 raw and was always a pretty good bencher. I could drop and do 100 pushups like it was nothing and in my first meet, a WABDL bench press meet, I got 450 in a blast shirt at 198. That was a WABDL world record at the time.
How did you go from being a real estate mogul to to being a powerlifting distributor?
I went through a couple of real estate crashes and got divorced, and I just wanted to get into something where I had total control and enjoyed it. I was using Inzer gear when I first started, but when Titan came out with their bench shirt I started using it and got better results. I knew Pete Alaniz, the owner of Titan, and said that I thought I could sell them. Armed with an inventory of a dozen shirts in different sizes, I started going around to gyms and high schools with a powerlifting team and showed people how to use a shirt to get a bigger bench.. All I sold at that time was bench shirts – no squat or deadlift suits or wraps, just bench shirts because that was what I knew. People started asking for squat and deadlift suits so I got that going. This was in 2002.
Titan didn't mind you basically competing against them?
No, because no one had ever done what I was offering, going to the high schools (Texas high school powerlifting is BIG!), and showing the coaches and kids how to use the shirts. I offered a value added service, not just selling the gear, but also how to use it properly. I traveled all over Texas to over 200 schools, wore out two brand new cars in over 300,000 miles but I was competing against Inzer. I'd go to a meet and it would be all Inzer shirts so I would go to the schools and guarantee that the shirts that I sold would outperform theirs. I could do that because I would fit and size the shirt for the best results. I found a tailor in Dallas that would do the alterations and I still use him 20 years later. It's not always the shirt but how it fits. I offered that additional service and that's how I built my business. Nobody offered that service and everyone thought I was crazy, traveling all over Texas going to the lifter. If you get results, you'll get business.
When did the business start growing enough to hire staff and get a website?
I lived in a small efficiency apartment and had 12 shirts as samples. I had no website and couldn't take credit cards. I didn't even have a smart phone or computer! Six years ago I hired Carol and she was making more money than I was. I had been doing the selling, the shipping - everything. With her handling the administrative side, I could start going to non high school meets. Since I had been lifting in WABDL I started going to their meets. APF and USPF were big then and I went to their meets too.
So your business started growing because of your sincere desire to help the lifter get bigger lifts using gear?
I started coming out with some of my own products in the KLA line, offering knee wraps and wrist wraps in addition to the Titan line. We were selling tons of those KLA products because they were great items at a very competitive price. I had lots of really strong friends that would test them and I listened when I designed them. They continue to be a large part of our business, the whole KLA line. Titan has made a big investment in IPF and I wanted to offer equipment to the other federations without directly competing against Titan in that area.
How did you come to be the US SBD knee sleeve distributor?
Mike Tuscherer had just competed in an IPF competition overseas and most of the lifters were wearing SBD's. He said I should contact the SBD owner so we got together and I wanted to know who had tested the product. He said the Russian team had tested them and thought they were the best, so that was good enough for me! He gave me a quota to sell in a year and I sold about ten times that amount. I did it by going to the lifters at big meets and showing them how to size the sleeves and get them on for optimum results.
You're the hardest working guy in powerlifting that I know and at 77 you're still going strong, attending meets almost every weekend. Any thoughts of slowing down?
Heck no, it's a privilege to work and I love it.
Even though you're the President and CEO of Anderson Powerlifting you still work the booth almost every weekend and help people get the right gear that helps them lift more.
We just came back from the LA Fit Expo and sold out the second day. My brother Johnny helps me tremendously as does Jim Snodgrass and I've just got great people working with me. I sponsor some of the best lifters in the world and I'll always love this business and powerlifting.
Be sure to visit Anderson Powerlifting by clicking on the links on this page.