The women of World Gym Fitness Center, a team of six people in key leadership roles at the facility plus the former long-time general manager, have something to say about who should be the next mayor of Peachtree City. Collectively, these ladies have worked for 97 years with Peachtree City businessman Dar Thompson who is a running for mayor. In describing their boss, they use words like visionary, proven, compassionate and forward thinker.
“He gets something in his head, does his homework of its feasibility and then tackles it on head first,” Kim Hershey, former general manager of World Gym, says. Kim is one of the original three employees who worked alongside Dar when he opened a 12,000 sq. ft. World Gym Fitness Center in November of 1998.
Today, he owns two fitness centers with more than 65,000 sq. ft. of facilities, 12,000 members and more than 120 employees. The World Gyms of Peachtree City rank in the top 3% of the most successful health clubs in America, based on retention, attrition, and net earnings per member. Few people have played a more important role in the health of women and men in Peachtree City than Dar and the team at World Gym.
Kim praises her former boss for growing World Gyms with a team approach.
“He trusts in his management staff to do their jobs and to manage their front line staff,” Kim says. ”He and I always shared a mutual respect for one another in our roles in building World Gym, he as the CEO and I as the General Manager.”
“In the 20 years he has been back in Fayette County, look at what he has built: a thriving health club business and more recently a successful real estate business,” Kim points out. ”He has proven credentials. Plus he genuinely cares about the future of Peachtree City and the high standards we the citizens have grown to expect in what we call home.”
Kim is concerned that counties surround Fayette are growing with the 21st century while Peachtree City lacks a visionary plan.
“We must grow if our much loved PTC amenities are to remain,” Kim says. ”Dar can offer that plan along with ideas and suggestions from various leaders in our communities. He will be open to suggestions from the people and will always have an ear to listen. He will watch out for our taxes and the city’s budget.”
For Kim, the bottom line is that Dar has the credentials to do the job.
“Dar is a proven business man who has built his success on his courage to take chances, his knowledge in the business world and his no nonsense approach to not taking no for an answer when he know it is the right thing to do,” Kim says.
Karen Hoover, current general manager of World Gym, has worked with Dar for 18 years. She has been an eye witness to his ability to cast a vision and see it come to fruition.
“I think Dar Thompson has a unique vision and understanding of Peachtree City and its residents,” Karen says. “His desire is to see Peachtree City flourish to benefit our future generations to come. I’ve personally seen what Dar Thompson can do with just a vision.”
She says her boss is “not an under the thumb” business man.
“Dar puts people in place who are trustworthy, hardworking, knowledgeable and dependable,” Karen says. “He is always open to new ideas and is willing to listening to suggestions. He would do the same for the city. He would identify the people he knew could support him and get the job done.”
Karinann Houseman, head of administration and Dar’s personal assistant, has worked with the Peachtree City businessman for 17 years. She praises his commitment to developing his team.
“As Dar’s businesses grew, and grew, and grew — he now has 5 companies — so did my position,” Karinann says. “He has always given me support and encouragement when adding responsibilities and duties. I truly feel a part of his team!”
“He is very “macro” as he is all about vision and the big picture,” Karinann says.
“However, at the same time he understands the financials and knows them like the back of his hand. He allows his staff the freedom to bring new ideas and questions to the conversation. No thoughts or idea is dismissed. To him, there is no such thing as a dumb question. There is no hierarchy. He treats every employee the same. What I always find interesting, whenever there is a question, he takes the time to explain his decisions and why the math does or does not work. He explains the big picture and the cause-and-effect. It’s never ‘because I said so.’ He wants his staff to understand the reasoning.”
“I have the privilege to work next to Dar on a daily basis,” Karinann says. “He is results driven. He gathers all of the information before making a final decision. When conflict arises, he listens to all parties and is always fair. Dar is truly opposite to what many perceive him to be. He is a very kind and compassionate to others. I could tell you endless stories of kindness to others but have been sworn to secrecy. Dar truly wants success for all and that is why he would make a great Mayor.”
“Dar is very invested in Peachtree City,” Karinann says. “He is in this for the long haul. He believes that with the right leadership, this city can thrive and flourish. He is a ‘big picture’ kind of guy!”
Leslie McGilloway, head of sales and marketing, has worked with Dar for 15 years.
“I feel empowered by Dar every day,” Leslie says. “He appreciates my abilities, is open to new ideas, values my opinion and allows me the creativity and autonomy I need to do my job in alignment with our company goals.”
Leslie describe Dar as a visionary leader who involves his team members in decision making.
“While he recognizes his own talents and strengths and has confidence in his vision, he is quick to bring others into the fold who possess talents that complement his skills,” Leslie says. “I have no doubt that Dar has a clear vision of how Peachtree City and its residents can prosper in the future and that he will bring together the collaborative talent necessary to make good things happen for the community.”
Leslie believes his success as a business owner gives Dar a unique understanding of how the city works and what it takes to get things done.
“Clearly Dar has a passion and a sincere desire to help Peachtree City maintain its viability and distinctive charm,” Leslie says. “I would recommend residents vote for Dar Thompson for these reasons.”
Sheila Ford, supervisor, has worked with Dar for 15 years. She appreciates the opportunities she has had to advance at the gym.
“I have always been provided with an atmosphere and environment in which I can work comfortably, in a field that I enjoy,” Sheila says. “My abilities are recognized and I have been given opportunities to advance within the gym.”
Dar stays connected with his team and ensures that everyone knows the desired end result, Sheila says.
“In leading the city, I think this style of leadership would ensure a respected term, a term in which his peers and team would be able to work together for the good of Peachtree City,” Sheila says. “As a longtime resident of Peachtree City, an established business leader, and great family man, Peachtree City would benefit from Dar’s experiences, business alliances and his genuine love for the City,” Sheila says.
Amy Moore, Group Fitness Director, has worked with Dar for 10 years. She describes her boss as “forward thinker and truly has the best interest of the city at heart.”
“Dar wants to grow the city in the right direction and to impact our school system in a positive matter,” Amy says. ”As a mother of two elementary school children this is extremely near and dear to my heart. I believe his success in the business world would give enormous credibility to the position of Mayor.”
Terri Barker, World Gym Childcare Director, has also spent a decade working with Dar, whom she finds approachable and willing to listen. He gives direction, she says, but does not micromanage.
“You can ask for anything but you may not always get what you ask for,” Terri says. “He may however have a different idea that may be a compromise to your request. These qualities in Dar are what would translate to leading a city for the people.”
Terri notes that Dar is part of this city and community as a long-time resident, family man and business owner.
“Dar is a visionary, Terri says. “He wants Peachtree City to be a place of growth, a place where the millennials will want to come and stay.”
A Georgia native, Dar lived in Peachtree City during his childhood, was even involved in the junior golf program at Flat Creek in the 70’s. He moved with his family to Colorado then later pursued an acting career in Los Angeles before returning to Peachtree City.
In addition to being owner of World Gym Fitness Centers, he develops property and owns several other businesses and he is a candidate for mayor of Peachtree City.
“I am proud to have chosen to come back, to make Peachtree City my home and start a family here,” Dar says. “My wife, Angie, is a teacher at Peachtree City Elementary, and we have two daughters, Alexandria (10) and Autumn (6). Our family is heavily involved in our community and enjoys our excellent schools, quality recreation programs, and safe neighborhoods. Our life is here and we are here to stay. As a family, we know that this great community did not happen by accident and it requires that we all get involved to maintain ‘our bubble’.”
“I am solution based and solution oriented,” Dar says. “I have the ability to bring people together and always move forward. My focus is to support people in their specific roles and give them the support and the tools needed to accomplish the goal. I take pride in surrounding myself with good people.”
Dar knows that schools, recreation, presentation and traffic are important to Fayette women. He feels that in many ways, Peachtree City is “treading water.”
“We tend to believe our own hype and ignore the facts,” Dar says. “We do not want to look outside our bubble. The mayor and others stick their heads in the sand and continue to sing our praises. Every successful business person knows and understands that numbers don’t lie. We ignore the facts and continue to beat our drum about all the wonderful things PTC offers. I ask, besides golf-cart paths, what? OK…planned community, with buffers and 5-foot sign ordinance. However, the consumer has told us that’s not enough.”
Adopting a plan which insures that the city’s amenities continue to attract people to the community while also dealing with traffic issues are key to the future of Peachtree City, Dar believes.
“While most of us love our city, love our bubble, we need to honestly examine why people are choosing other options and adjust our strategy accordingly,” Dar says. “We need to be competitive with other communities that have a variety of different and updated amenities.”
The solutions-based candidate feels the first step is to begin a conversation within the community.
“We need to start with ALL options on the table and start a very public dialogue where we engage all segments of the population and every conceivable scenario,” Dar says. “From that we can gain consensus on what we want as a community and work with GDOT, ARC, and our neighboring communities on a solution that serves the best interest of all. It won’t be easy, it can’t take long, but together we can start to untangle a mess more than a decade in the making due to inaction by my opponents and others.”