Lori Thomson

One From the Heart

  Lori Thompson has a big heart and strong values. She also runs her own business (Curves of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton). She has combined these two pieces of her life in a unique way. By making her business a headquarters for many charitable efforts, she has felt and responded to not only community needs, but also the needs of local women. Value-based businesses are the wave of the future, and Lori is at the top of the curve.

Q: Share a bit about your husband and family.

A: Jack and I came to Bluffton about 10 years ago from a small town in upstate New York. We have four children, and I am a grandmother. We share our home with Patches, the best dog in the whole world.

Q: What is your personal philosophy of life?

A: I have two basic things I believe in: "Treat others the way you want to be treated" and "Nothing works unless you do." This is a quote from the poet Maya Angelou, a person I greatly admire. I try very hard to understand people's needs and concerns. I have come to understand that nothing comes easy, whether it's meeting weight-loss goals, fitness goals, personal goals, or business goals. It takes work. There is no magic bullet to give us what we want in life.

Q: How do you use your business for the greater good of the community?

A: I believe it is very important to be active contributors to our community. Over the years we have collected formal dresses for wives of returning troops so they could attend a formal ball. We are involved with the American Heart Association Heart Walk, and we have mini health fairs several times a year with skin screenings and balance assessments, blood pressure screenings etc.

(I interrupt here to tell you a funny story. I was at the HHI Curves a couple of days ago and saw a huge plastic water jug filled to overflowing with coins. Lori had told her regulars that if they filled the jar with money for the Heart Association she would carry it in the Heart Walk. They filled it with coins! It weighs over a hundred pounds. To keep her promise, she will have to carry it in a wheelbarrow!)

We hold an annual food drive in March, and I waive the enrollment fee for any new member who will donate a bag of food. We send goody packages to member's relatives who are stationed overseas; we have adopted five individuals and one entire unit of soldiers. Last Christmas it took three trucks to get everything to the post office. We have given to St. Jude's Hospital, Bluffton Self Help, Deep Well, and Meals on Wheels. We are planning a Blood Drive and a collection for the Humane Association.

Q: Share a little about how your business has become kind of a "Steel Magnolias" gathering place for women.

A: We talk to each other. We share a common goal-fitness-so there are always ups and downs in the battle. We celebrate and encourage each other. We listen to each other. Sometimes a woman will not only use the machines for exercise; she will take out stress and frustration, too. You can exercise and leave the rest of the day-to-day problems at the door.

Q: What are your biggest challenges in operating this kind of a socially-conscious business?

A: I guess it is the same with any business: time management.

Just imagine, ladies, if every business owner had this kind of heart. Clients are much more than money in the bank; they are the assets. Good will is not measured, but flows abundantly. Community involvement is part of the company philosophy. Lori is a successful business owner, but this is not about Curves. It is about how things can be done.