State senator discusses business, public service at Hurricane Rotary meeting

“If you go into business, you can go in and either create a job for yourself — or you can create a business. And if you’re creating a job for yourself, you’re not there. Your business isn’t working. And you have a business that lives irrespective of your effort toward that business.”

Sen. Eric Tarr (R-Putnam) gave Putnam Rotarians an autobiography and a personal philosophy of business at a recent meeting of the group in Hurricane.

“I had created a job for myself, and that job was excellent.” he said. “I could work seven days a week. I was paying people twice what I made, to do what I did — to come in for 40 hours a week.

“That was not for me,” he said. “To this day, it is not for me. I was not a business person, I was a physical therapist. I had three practices running at that time. I entered the Executive MBA program at the University of Charleston. I put Generations Physical Therapy as a Capstone project. Snap Fitness is a global franchise. In about six months, we had a model of Snap Fitness and Generations together.”

Within 18 months, the Capstone model developed at UC brought the Tarr family businesses into the fore of performance among the 1,600 Snap Fitness clubs in the world.

“That taught me how to stack businesses,” Tarr said. “We were leasing real estate in Barboursville. We had a physician who got in trouble down there. ... He needed out fast. So I drafted up an owner-financing way to get that [property] without a bank. And ended up with a lot of equity on a property he had been leasing to us. We used that equity to start building a real estate business.

“Hardware and building materials developed out of that. ... We could get out materials wholesale. An HVAC company that was servicing 50 or 60 units we had at that time, I bought the company and started outsourcing that, so now we get our HVAC at cost.

“So everything we’ve acquired has a vertical integration component with all our [other] businesses. Now we have about 30 different businesses in 10 different industries.

“[Our] family of businesses is a conglomeration of partnerships. Several family members are partners in these businesses, and others are partners where we have gone through acquisitions or mergers. [They include] five or six families that we’ve brought into that fold with their family businesses.

“This Senate thing: When we came into West Virginia, I had practiced under Kentucky law. I was raised in Kentucky. I went to school in Kentucky. The practice in physical therapy was very different from what it was in West Virginia. ... I had no idea I was breaking the law the first six months I practiced in West Virginia. I found out, by phone call, while I was visiting a patient in their home. I called to check in and found out that my primary care clinic couldn’t accept patients.

“So, there, I lost half of my business in a day. I went straight to the Capitol, decided I was going to fix it in a day. It did not happen.

“I thought the place ran on logic. But it didn’t. I had had no concept of how legislation works.

“Once I figured out that it was relationship-based, I became very active in my professional association.

“That same day that I had gone up there, [the association] made me chair of the political action committee.

“They had about 50 active members. Now they have some 300 members.

“And that’s how I got into politics.”

Tarr has been an active member of Putnam Rotary since December 2017.

FUNERALS FOR TODAY JANUARY 21, 2020

Campbell, Virginia - 2 p.m., Wallace Funeral Home & Chapel, Barboursville.

Fisher, Helen - 6 p.m., Cunningham - Parker - Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Johnson, Linda - 2 p.m., Highland Memory Gardens, Chapmanville.

Kessler, Carolyn - 5 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

King, Charles - Noon, Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Nitro.

Pauley, Bernice - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Sigman, Christopher - 2 p.m., Propps Family Cemetery, Summersville.

Williams, Archie - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.