Spotlight Beaches Rock Gym
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Spotlight Beaches Rock Gym

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Mac Kelly and his friend Dean Grant opened Beaches Rock Gym in 2017. They recognized the need for a climbing space in the active beaches community.

Images: Wallice Jusino

Reaching New Heights at the Beach

Thanks for your time Mac. So tell us in what part of the First Coast do you reside now and how long have you lived there?

My wife and I moved into our home in Neptune Beach in 2005.

Why and how did you get started?

When I started to get very involved in the sport of climbing, I wanted to make it more accessible to people who lived in the beach community. The closest rock gym was a long drive, and I believe that may have prevented some people who lived at the beaches from getting involved in the sport.

What aspect of your business are you passionate about?

Building a community of like-minded, active people. I also love creating an environment where kids who don’t necessarily take to team activities, have a place to climb and progress in a sport.

How did you get the idea or concept for your business?

Having climbed gyms around the country, I felt inspired to create something unique for our active community.

From the outset, what would you say was your mission?

Our mission was to bring a creative, new, experience to our active community.

What are your goals for the company?

To provide a safe and challenging climbing atmosphere for climbers of all abilities and ages.

When did you start your business?

Spring 2017

What made you choose to operate your business in its current location?

Atlantic Beach has opportunities for running, biking, surfing, and paddling and we felt this would be a great addition to the community.

Can you give us a brief background on service(s) or product(s) you offer and the people you serve?

We offer bouldering and auto-belay climbing.

What is a unique attribute/aspect/quality/feature about your business?

We are in open-air facility. We also feature a Kilter Board which is an articulating climbing wall that has the capability for climbers to design and share routes with other climbers around the world.

How many employees make it happen at [we’ll insert your business name}

We have 10 employees including route setters, front desk, and children’s program leaders.

What qualities do you look for in an employee?

We hire employees that are knowledgeable climbers, friendly, great with kids and families, and helpful to climbers of all ability levels.

As a business owner, tell us what some of your responsibilities are?

Overseen daily operations and the growth and expansion of the business.

How has Covid affected your business?

At the start of the pandemic, we closed our facility for a couple of months. As an open-air environment, we were later able to safely open and continue operations.

How do you advertise your business?

Social media, word-of-mouth, and we also participate in fundraisers.

To what do you attribute your success?

Our friendly staff and the amazing community of climbers.

Does your company help with or get involved in any community projects?

We have participated in several school fundraising events and donated to special causes

If you could offer one piece of advice for someone who’s just starting a business, what would it be?

If you’re passionate about your idea, the beaches community is a great, supportive environment for small businesses.

Personal hobbies or interests? Family?

I have a wife and two kids. We enjoy spending time outdoors on the beach and parks, playing sports and traveling. I also spend a lot of time mountain biking and enjoy riding in Hanna Park.

What’s the best thing for you about living on the First Coast?

All of the outdoor activities available at the beach, intercoastal, and parks.

Where and how can folks learn more about your business? Links to your website?

www.beachesrockgym.com or visit us at 14 West 3rd Street in Atlantic Beach

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