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Growing Business

Chris Meyers, Sun Tan City and Buff City Soap Franchisee

Posted by James Ramsey on Monday, September 13, 2021

Chris Meyers took a chance when he was young and became a successful franchisee in Iowa. Learn how our commercial bankers helped him open several Sun Tan City and Buff City Soap franchise locations. 

Suntan City. Bluff Co. Soap. Image of Chris Meyer and family

How Chris Meyers Became a Crazy-Successful Franchise Owner

Chris Meyers believes that the best time to take risks is when you’re young and don’t have as much to lose. At the age of 23, the Minnesota native took a big risk. He decided not to pursue a career using his college degree, and instead explored opportunities to become a franchise owner.

“There are so many doors that can open if you take a risk at a young age,” Meyers said. “And if you're a hardworking person and treat people well, you'll be successful in this world. I truly believe it.”

Twelve years later, his risks have paid off as he has become a successful franchisee in Iowa. Meyers owns eight Sun Tan City locations in the Des Moines metro area and recently opened three Buff City Soap locations, with more to come.

He made it all happen with a team he trusts, help from his mentors and, of course, perseverance.

From Humble Beginnings

Meyers graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in civil engineering. At that time, it was a tough job market for the field and he decided to get his securities license and start working in financial services. It was then that he and a friend started researching franchises to open in the Des Moines area.

They decided on an indoor tanning concept called Tanworld, which would convert to Sun Tan City a year later. They quickly got to work securing their startup financing.

“We started talking to several banks in Ankeny but most of them told us ‘no,’” Meyers said. “We were young kids, barely out of college, with no money and very little life experience, so we weren’t surprised with the initial rejections, but we just kept trying.”

Eventually, Meyers got his “yes” from Northwest Bank. At the age of 24, with financing in hand, Meyers officially opened his first Sun Tan City location in Ankeny.

Over the years, Meyers has expanded to open eight locations around the Des Moines metropolitan area, including Ankeny, Altoona and Johnston, as well as Merle Hay Road and Fleur Drive in Des Moines. He also bought out an existing franchisee and took over ownership of locations in Clive, Urbandale and West Des Moines.

While his franchise group has expanded across the whole Des Moines metro area, Meyers and his team were not done growing.

An Opportunity for Growth

During his time as a Sun Tan City franchisee, Meyers developed a close relationship with CEO Rick Kueber and the rest of the Sun Tan City management team, which is based in Louisville, Kentucky. As entrepreneurs, the Sun Tan City team constantly looks at new deals. In 2018, they invested in a startup company called Buff City Soap, which produces and sells soaps and related products free of harsh ingredients and full of nourishing, plant-based goodness, handmade daily in their stores.

Based on his proven track record as a strong businessman, Meyers was offered the opportunity to become a Buff City Soap franchisee. He jumped at the opportunity.

“I was looking for a growth opportunity for my team, and I believed in the Buff City Soap concept from day one,” said Meyers. “The thing about being an entrepreneur is you are constantly presented with different ideas and concepts. When an opportunity comes around that your gut tells you ‘this is your path,’ you fire at it with everything you’ve got and Buff City Soap presented just such an opportunity.”

Currently, Meyers and his team operate three Buff City Soap locations in Iowa — Ankeny, Johnston and Waukee — with four more locations under construction in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Sioux City.  All four of these new locations will open between October and November, ahead of the busy holiday season.

“We are very excited about our growth and future plans, but we are also very focused right now on our operations,” said Meyers. “Our team should be at 20 franchise locations by next year, and we are already working on 2022 plans across the Midwest and can’t wait to let everyone know where Buff is going next.”

Staying Focused on Health

The COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of new challenges for business owners all over the world. It started a wave that changed the way many businesses operate, but also one that put a renewed focus on staying safe and healthy.

As someone who lives with an autoimmune disease, Meyers has put an intense focus into the health side of the pandemic.

“So for me, it wasn’t about the financial challenges as much. It was about taking care of my team and taking care of myself,” Meyers said. “You can have all the businesses, money and success you want, but if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

The team that Meyers has built around himself and the trust he has in it are the keys to his success. So, taking care of his team members was important during that time.

Even as the Sun Tan City locations were forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic, Meyers and his team trusted that their clients would be ready to come back and everything would be alright when they reopened.

Northwest Bank Comes Through

When other banks said “no,” Jim Ramsey, commercial banker with Northwest Bank, came through with a “yes.”

“They believed in us and they believed in the concept,” Meyers said. “Throughout the years, Jim has been not only a good banker, but a good friend as well.”

Not only did Northwest Bank finance Meyers’ Sun Tan City locations, but Meyers also has bank accounts and mortgages there for rental properties he is invested in.

Northwest Bank’s commitment to supporting local businesses and the communities they serve is something Meyers admires.

“As a local small business owner and someone who loves the Des Moines area, that relationship is important to me,” Meyers said. “I’m a big believer in shopping local, banking local and supporting local, and Northwest Bank does a really good job of that.”

Northwest Bank has come through for many entrepreneurs as they started their journeys as franchisees. If you’re ready to make the jump just like Chris Meyers did, reach out to a commercial banker today.

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The Author

James Ramsey

James Ramsey

Commercial Banker, SVP

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