To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Best Practices: Earl Wenk,” the April 2012 issue. Article summary: Earl Wenk, N.C.T.M.B., 43, is co-owner of Arbor Wellness in Ann Arbor, Michigan ( He graduated from the Ann Arbor Institute of Massage Therapy in 2003, and is a certified athletic trainer and certified strength-and-conditioning specialist. He has worked in the sports medicine field for more than 17 years and now works with National Collegiate Athletic Association and Olympic athletes in track and field and figure skating.

How do you define business success?

A: Business success requires passion in what you do combined with the customer’s value of your work. If either is missing, success will be impossible.

What are the top three things you credit for your success?

A: 1) Professionalism: I bring a clinical approach to my work. From this, clients are confident listening to my feedback and other medical professionals are comfortable referring clients for massage.

2) Flexibility: Athletes have crazy schedules! During my athlete’s competitive seasons, I have to work long days to help them both prepare and recover. The athletes know I am committed to them and willing to sacrifice my free time for their success.

3) Experience/background: Having a background in kinesiology (a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan) as well as certifications in athletic training and strength and conditioning lets me differentiate myself from other therapists. My diverse background shows I am interested in the big picture of sports medicine and rehabilitation and helps me communicate with the sports medicine staff.

What was the best business decision you made?

A: Partnering with other therapists to form a private clinic (Arbor Wellness). It has allowed us to market to larger groups than one therapist could manage alone. For example, we often provide free sports massage to a large marathon-training group after they finish a 20-mile training run. This has increased the clientele of every therapist in our clinic.

What was the worst business decision you made?

A: As my practice increased, I did not actively control my schedule and communicate with my clients. At times, my schedule became so full, I was unable to respond to the changing schedules of my athletes. Some valued clients felt I was too hard to get a hold of and chose to move to another therapist. Since then, I have limited the growth of my practice, so I am more available to my competitive athletes.

In five years, where do you see yourself and your business?

A: To be honest, I hope it is not much different than today. I hope to attend two Olympic games—summer and winter—working with competitive athletes in massage and corrective exercise, while sharing my experiences with other massage therapists through continuing education workshops.