Fitness showroom planned at former Franklin Press building

The owner of Specialty Fabrication and Powder Coating and president of Specialty Fitness Systems has plans for the former Franklin Press building along Liberty Street.

Rod Griffin and his wife, Melissa, chief executive officer of Specialty Fitness Systems, have purchased the building at 1246 Liberty St. for use as a fitness equipment showroom.

They bought the building earlier this month for $250,000 from Second Edition Inc., according to the parcel viewer on the Venango County assessment office website.

Specialty Fabrication and Powder Coating, a Franklin-based steel fabrication business, previously manufactured STRIVE strength equipment until that company went out of business in the wake of the economic downturn of 2008-2009. The Griffins made the decision to acquire the assets of the STRIVE company and the related technology of the strength equipment manufactured by Specialty Fabrication and Powder Coating and founded Specialty Fitness Systems in 2013.

Specialty Fitness Systems, located at 455 Allegheny Blvd. in Franklin and 427 Route 8 in Oil City, spent more than six months redesigning and re-engineering its portfolio of products and generating additional product offerings and patents on new technologies, before introducing the PRIME brand of fitness equipment to the market in 2014 at the club industry trade show in Chicago, Illinois.

Since the launch, PRIME has gained steady traction in the domestic and international markets. The company’s customer list includes the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, which has PRIME equipment in its weight rooms.

The Griffins plan to use the more than 10,000-square-foot building on Liberty Street to showcase a wide variety of Specialty Fitness Systems’ more than 80 products. The building will also provide office space for the company’s growing staff.

“We understand that due to the unique nature of our technology and equipment, customers are looking for the opportunity to experience the equipment first hand prior to making a purchase,” Rod Griffin said. “We regularly have out-of-town visitors coming to see the equipment, and we want those visitors to leave the visit with confidence in our product and our company.”

The company also intends to use the new space as a venue to host events such as strength camps, certification classes and other special events that will draw attendees from around the world, Griffin said.

The building was most recently occupied by a flea market. Franklin Press/Second Edition, a printing business that also sold office supplies, office furniture, educational toys, gifts and more, owned by Chris and Charlotte Baxter, was located in the building from 1989 until 2013.

Before Franklin Press, the building was home to Printz Clothing Co. beginning in the late 1880s. A memorable feature of the Printz Co. store in Franklin was the pneumatic tube system that whisked the sales receipts and payments from the sales desk to the upstairs office and returned the customer’s change.

Plans hatched in late 2013 by former Franklin businessman Michael Thomas for a “family-friendly brew pub” in the space were short-lived. By early spring of 2014, those plans and other ventures unraveled after a string of civil lawsuits were filed against Thomas within the span of a few weeks.