January 14, 2008 // Franchising.com // - SCOTTSDALE, Ariz – Paul Dickison, an Orange Park, Fla.-based franchisee of The Little Gym International (TLGI), has been appointed Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management for the international chain of gyms, reporting to Senior Vice President of Franchise Support Bob Hicks. The Little Gym® is the leading provider of motor skills development in young children, offering curriculum-based, non-competitive programs to children aged 4 months to 12 years old.
Dickison comes to his new position with extensive experience both as a The Little Gym franchise owner and as a marketer and manager of other global brands. He and his wife, Michelle, opened their first The Little Gym in Orange Park in late 2003 and a second location in Jacksonville Beaches, Fla., in 2005, eventually selling the Jacksonville Beaches location. Earlier in his career, he spent 12 years at Ashland, Inc. in national account sales, sales training, trade marketing and finally as brand manager for Valvoline, one of Ashland's most widely recognized brands. He left Ashland in 2000 to accept a position as Group Brand Marketing Director for Johnson & Johnson in the company's eye care division, then was recruited by Medtronic in 2004 to help launch a new surgery technology for the company's ophthalmic division.
As a member of TLGI's corporate management team, Dickison will manage the company's external advertising, public relations and digital agencies, its internal marketing teams, website strategy, national brand promotions and partnerships and the local marketing programs TLGI provides to its franchise owners. He will also oversee product management, leading the effort to define new product, program and service opportunities for the chain and managing the expansion of The Little Gym's Brand Equity Assurance program.
The Little Gym is increasingly acknowledged as the leading developer of motor skills in young children. The chain recently landed the #1 spot in the children's fitness category for the second consecutive year in Entrepreneur's Franchise 500 ranking (January 2008), and earlier in 2007 was named a "Hot Retailer" by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and one of Inc. magazine's 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States (September 2007). This past November, The Little Gym also unveiled a strategic partnership with Walt Disney Pictures surrounding the release of the hit movie "Enchanted," the most high-profile and visible marketing initiative in the chain's 31-year history. In addition, the chain celebrated several notable milestones in 2007, including the opening of its 300th worldwide location, 250th U.S. location and first site in Manhattan.
"We're heading into 2008 with great momentum and incredible marketing visibility thanks to our partnership with Disney and the continuing expansion of our chain into new markets, including the world's biggest market for media and public exposure," said Hicks. "With his vast experience in global marketing and brand management and his in-depth knowledge of our concept and philosophies, Paul is an excellent choice to help us capitalize on these assets."
Dickison will be based in TLGI's Scottsdale headquarters but will continue to operate the Orange Park gym along with his wife.
About The Little Gym and The Little Gym International
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based The Little Gym is considered the premier developer of motor skills in children worldwide. Founded in 1976 by Robin Wes, an innovative educator with a genuine love for children, the company uses curriculum-based gymnastics, movement and other programs to promote coordination, balance, rhythm and flexibility, working with children between the ages of 4 months and 12 years. Younger children participate in classes with their parents, while older students attend classes on their own and add a greater sense of independence to the benefits they gain from the program. In addition, The Little Gym's programs have a proven track record of enhancing children's listening, social and intellectual skills, in short, laying the foundation for a lifetime of success.
Ranked the #1 children's fitness franchise by Entrepreneur in both 2007 and 2008, The Little Gym International, Inc. was formed in 1992 to franchise the The Little Gym concept. Franchise opportunities are available throughout the United States and overseas; ideal franchise candidates in the United States and Canada will have net worths of at least $200,000, with at least $50,000 in liquid assets, and will possess some prior business management experience. Requirements for Master Franchise agreements for international development vary. Information about The Little Gym and available franchise opportunities can be obtained by visiting www.thelittlegym.com or calling, toll-free, (888) 228-2878.