As was the case with just about every other business in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic presented Galaxy Home Recreation with a number of unprecedented challenges that had the potential to force us to close our doors forever.
One of those challenges was uniquely difficult — the opening of our brand-new location in Edmond that was scheduled for March 2020, the month the world shut down.
Determination Meets Opportunity
Instead of leaving things up to fate, however, the team at Galaxy Home Recreation took matters into our own hands and started seeking ways to adapt to the radically altered business landscape we were now traversing.
Their determination not only saw us through the worst of the pandemic, but it also garnered the attention of the esteemed publication SpaRetailer.
SpaRetailer selected Galaxy Home Recreation as part of their list of 2020’s Retail Stars and interviewed president and CEO Ronak Shah about the company’s successful navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interview, featured on episode #53 of The SpaRetailer Podcast, Ronak discusses the company, its history, and the challenges we faced in opening our new location.
Birth of a Family Business
As Ronak’s interview on The SpaRetailer Podcast reveals, Galaxy Home Recreation’s journey to becoming the largest retailer of indoor and outdoor home recreation in Oklahoma and Arkansas did not begin with the hot tubs we are now known for.
The family business — which is currently run by Ronak Shah, his wife Zena, and his extended family — was originally founded by Shah’s father, Mukesh, in 1975.
Mukesh was an Indian immigrant who came to Ohio to earn a master’s degree, but ultimately flunked out of school after his first semester. This first bump in the road led him to move down to Oklahoma for a fresh start.
“His friends told him the weather reminded him of back home,” Ronak told host and owner of SpaRetailer, Megan Kendrick.
Mukesh would never earn his master’s, as he decided instead to open up his own pool table business, Billiards of Tulsa, when he had only six credits left to earn.
That company would eventually evolve into Galaxy Home Recreation when its owner’s wandering interests found their way beyond pool tables into coin-operated machines and, eventually, hot tubs.
Facing Sudden Change
The COVID-19 pandemic was not the first challenge that Galaxy Home Recreation had to face, nor was it the first time that sudden and dramatic change was thrust upon the company, threatening to derail it entirely.
Ronak reveals how he and his wife, Zena, along with his sister, and brother-in-law, stepped in to help with the business when Mukesh unexpectedly passed, describing the difficult balance required to successfully work with family.
“We all approach things very differently,” he says. “And that has been both good and bad. My wife’s the finance and accounting, my sister’s really good in the details, my brother-in-law is really good more at the operational, and I’m more the vision guy. So there are the biggest arguments because one [family member] cannot see how the other one thinks…but that also allows us to focus on what we’re good at.”
Overcoming COVID’s Challenges
Opening a new location is a tremendous challenge in and of itself. But opening one in the middle of a global pandemic is a challenge with little to no precedent. Still, that did not deter the team at Galaxy Home Recreation. We were determined to take the measured risks required of all successful businesses.
“You can’t make decisions upon the moment,” Ronak says. “Yeah, maybe the next year would suck [if the new location were to open], but long term, we know it’s the right decision, so we had to continue forward with it.”
The location opened in September of 2020, in spite of the fact that it wasn’t quite finished. According to Ronak, it had been long enough. “We just told the builder we’re opening whether the building is finished or not,” he said. “So, we still have been doing a lot finishing work since we’ve been open.”
However, in spite of all this, Ronak says things are going well. “It’s done better than we had expected, but it’s going to take some time,” he says. “We’re patient, and we understand that.”
Visit Galaxy Home Recreation
Thank you to SpaRetailer for featuring us. If you’re interested in indoor and outdoor recreation for your home, stop by one of our showrooms today!