Tamás Kuti was a graduate of the bachelor study programme of Business and Management in 2015 when he founded Shredex Kft. in Kiskőrös with the help of his parents. Since then, he has also completed a Master in Business Development programme at Corvinus and is currently a fourth-year law student. He runs a fitness centre in Kiskőrös that is so successful that guests call it an oasis in the desert. Recently The Service Provider of the Year title was awarded to him by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Bács-Kiskun County, which he considers a great honour. The thirty-year-old entrepreneur also has big plans for the future
How and why does someone start a business while still at university?
In 2015 – when I was about to graduate in my bachelor study programme – there was not a single gym in Kiskőrös, where I lived and grew up, which is unbelievable in a town of 15 thousand inhabitants. For me, then and now, the only significant hobby happened to be workout My parents and I talked about it: our family owned a plot of land on Petőfi Road, which seemed like the perfect place for a gym, so we decided to create a high-quality fitness centre there. My parents have been involved in vine growing and winemaking all their lives, and I have always tried to help them. Grapes require a lot of skill, perseverance, will and diligence. I feel I have learned these things from them, and I am very grateful to them for that. And also because they always say that I should decide how to run my business, because they don’t understand the industry. This has helped me to develop the qualities I need to run a company, to which my studies at Corvinus have contributed greatly.
What did the university give you to become a successful entrepreneur?
I have a lot to be grateful for, especially for the Master programme – I completed the Master in Business Development study programme. I learnt a lot during the programme, as I was able to get to know several specific companies, their problems and solutions. And I needed these things later on, because by the time we started, another company had appeared in Kiskőrös – but the town is too small for two gyms to operate profitably here. Once we started to offer group fitness classes, more and more people joined us, and from the beginning we reinvested the profits and improved, so our competitor closed down. That was a relief, but then Covid hit…
…and I guess you had to close.
Yes, it was required because of the pandemic. I’d just started studying law at Pázmány University, it’s something I’ve always been interested in, and as an entrepreneur I can use a lot of that knowledge. It may come as a surprise, but during Covid, I used to go to the fitness centre on my own every single day, keeping in touch with my colleagues, monitoring changes in the pandemic, exchanging information and, of course, waiting for the opening. We heated the facility with the grape bales from the vineyards, but in the meantime an EU (GINOP) call for applications was issued – for solar energy production. This came at the right time, as we were in the process of switching to a heat pump heating system, making our facility even more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, which has always been a priority for us. Of course, the timing of the payment for the solar panel system was not the best during the pandemic, but we did it for the long term. We were able to reopen in 2021 for licensed athletes, and later for the general public, but after Covid, the business dropped to 10-15% of what it had been, and we were slow to recover.
What is a good gym like? Yours must be like that, as I read in the Facebook posts that it’s like “an oasis in the desert”, while others like it because the instructors are nice and helpful. The only complaint I have read about is that the changing rooms are too small.
I like to say that our instructors are also therapists a little bit. They listen to every guest, listen to what people would like to change, help where it is needed. I’m in the centre almost every day from morning to night , and my staff members talk a lot to the guests, who are happy to tell me about their lives; it’s a friendly, almost family atmosphere. We are also taking comments into account, for example, we are now going to expand the building after a land acquisition with new services and larger changing rooms, which were really a weak point in our business. We are also constantly modernising our machinery. It’s useful because people who train are always happy to see something new, a new device makes their workout more enjoyable. In fact, I can say that we have been developing the place for 8 years and I think that has contributed significantly to the results we have achieved. What’s also good is that our receptionists and cleaners are part of the team, too, they do their best to make people feel welcome.
What are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
I think diligence and humility always pay off in the long term. In my observation, the first mistake many entrepreneurs make is when, after the first significant profit or successful year, they get carried away and turn the profits into private gain, a lot of travel and unnecessary expenses. I think the most important thing at this point would be to reinvest the profits into the company, develop the facility and stabilise the business in the long term, which would be the optimal decision. Personally, I get a lot of help and stability from my family background. My parents taught me a lot, always supported me and trusted me to make the right decision.
What are your plans for the future?
We plan to open a catering unit next to the gym in the second half of this year. Our customers have suggested this over the years, so I believe that our current customer base will already be able to provide a sound basis for a profitable operation. There are also plans for a show winery and a product portfolio to be launched this spring, and the expansion of the fitness centre, possibly in another town, could be considered. In these decisions and projects, I am sure that I will benefit greatly from my studies at Corvinus University.
Photos: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bács-Kiskun County (Tamás Kuti (l) receiving the award from József Gaál, President) , Private archive of Tamás Kuti (portrait)