Robert Aertker recalled the fateful day. He’d spotted the Briargate location of the Phenix Salon Suites in Colorado Springs – at that time, the one and only — and thought he might persuade the owners to open another salon in his own shopping center not far away on Powers Boulevard.
He was greeted by the signature wall of blue water and was handed a business card for Gina and Jason Rivera. “That’s how it started,” said Aertker. “It was a true cold call.”
He called the number and found himself talking with Gina at the Rivera’s home. “She couldn’t have been sweeter”. Gina referred Aertker to Jason, who suggested they meet for a cup of coffee.
I love what I do,” said Aertker. “My wife says that I work too much, and I say that I don’t work at all.
“We talk about that cup of coffee a lot,” Aertker said. Rivera wanted to discuss his concept for franchising Phenix Salons across the country and Aertker was looking for a new tenant but thought, “This is brilliant. This is it. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I told him, ‘I’ll take it national.’ I’ll be your real estate department.”
And away it went. Now, said Aertker, Phenix has some 72 ‘done deals’ and cuts some of the most aggressive commercial real estate deals in the country. Agents complain that markets are “too hot” or “too soft” but then see what a Phenix franchise can bring to their center, and he convinces landlords to sign. “They see it. They recognize it and give us the deal. We’re like a mini-anchor in a shopping center,” drawing 4,000 to 5,000 female shoppers into the market every single month, which is a huge benefit to neighboring cafes, clothing stores and restaurants.
Aertker has been in commercial real estate since 1987, leasing shopping centers in six states and assembling a 27-parcel tract near the famed Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO. He took Borriello Brothers Pizza from two to 10 locations in 18 months, owned an appraisal firm with 13 appraisers on staff, partnered in two shopping centers, bought and sold numerous commercial, multi-family, and residential properties before coming to Phenix. “I love what I do,” said Aertker. “My wife says that I work too much, and I say that I don’t work at all.”