Hartford Business Journal

April 19, 2021

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28 Hartford Business Journal | April 19, 2021 | HartfordBusiness.com Company Profile By Zach Vasile zvasile@hartfordbusiness.com F rom the outside, the rapid growth of sports-training company Northeast Performance Institute over the past two-and-a-half years might look like a sudden streak of good luck, or at least a matter of the right pieces falling into place at the right time. Since 2019, the company has opened a golf training facility in Portland and a state-of-the-art sports-performance lab in Enfield, in addition to taking over instruction and development at golf courses in Hartford and Southington and starting coaching services at the Oronoque Country Club in Stratford. In that time, the business has expanded from five to 20 employees. NPI now serves approximately 750 players and has annual revenues of over half-a-million dollars. But for founder and owner Peter Egazarian, the company is the culmination of years of honing his skills as a coach in the golf world. Egazarian, a Berlin native, started playing golf as a boy and after college began working at clubs as a golf pro, or instructor. He borrowed from each experience to shape NPI, which grew out of a golf coaching venture Egazarian started while living in Massachusetts. "The idea is to build a comprehensive, inclusive athletic development community," he said. To that end, Egazarian has assembled a staff that includes not only experienced golf instructors with PGA or LPGA membership but physical therapists and mindset coaches. They focus on the granular details of a player's style, using the latest technology to map out how their students move while swinging a golf club. NPI clients — who range from beginners to experienced golfers — are typically making a serious investment in their skill set, according to Ron Beck, who serves as director of golf coaching at NPI Portland. "Hardly anyone comes in for one lesson," Beck said. "It's more of a long-term relationship. It gives you an opportunity to dive deeper. You can really drill down and make changes permanent." Rapid expansion Egazarian said the business that ultimately evolved into NPI started around 2013, when he was teaching golf in western Massachusetts. By that time he had built up a sizable roster of reliable collaborators in the industry, but he was still in search of a main location. "It was a thought, a vision, at that point," said Beck, who knew Egazarian for years before joining NPI. "It was basically lacking a concrete base of operations." That all changed in the spring of 2019, when Egazarian sat down with Chris Cote, owner of Chris Cote's Golf Shop in Portland, and worked out an agreement to take over player development there. The new partners set to work building a 3,500-square- foot coaching and fitting facility, which now contains three studios equipped with the latest movement tracing and monitoring technology. The company later expanded its services to Southington when Cote bought the former Golf Quest, just off I-84. It was around this time that Beck, impressed by the model Egazarian had developed, officially came aboard. "Most golf teachers are golf professionals," Beck said. "They're teaching among all these other duties at the club. But with NPI, the coaches are 100% focused on teaching and coaching." NPI's rapid expansion came to a brief halt last spring as the coronavirus spread into Connecticut. The company closed its facilities for 10 weeks, but the team continued to meet over Zoom and settled on a set of safety protocols that eventually allowed in-person instruction to begin again. The nature of the game — already physically distanced and played outside — facilitated the reopening. "Being in the golf industry helped," Egazarian said. "We were well positioned. Golf is friendly for COVID times." Pandemic-related social distancing measures and shutdowns eventually drove a surge in golf across Connecticut over the spring and summer of 2020, as it was one of the few sports players could safely return to. Amidst the upswing, NPI continued to grow, setting up operations at Oronoque and working with the Connecticut section of the PGA to take over development and teaching at Keney Park and Goodwin Park golf courses in Hartford. The company has since expanded into baseball and softball coaching, and launched a youth and family services program designed to introduce parents and kids to golf. Egazarian also opened what he calls a research-level training lab in Enfield. While most training lab clients are minor league and major league baseball players, along with some college-bound high school players, the plan is to eventually take on athletes at any skill level, according to Joe Hudson, a sports performance advisor there. "As we grow we want it to be for everybody," Hudson said. NPI has already impressed the Connecticut golf community, including Tom Hantke, executive director of the Connecticut section of the PGA, who praised the company's player development work. "The top two reasons why people leave the game isn't the time or the money, contrary to what you might think," Hantke said. "It's because they feel they can't play well, they're not good at it. NPI is helping students meet their full potential." Hantke also praised Egazarian's business acumen. "They hit the market running," he said. "It's innovative, it's entrepreneurial. It's exactly what the golf industry needs, more of that entrepreneurial spirit." Egazarian's plans for the future include expanding into softball and eventually lacrosse. He also wants to start what he calls a golf concierge service that arranges golfing trips for people who want to travel and play different courses but don't necessarily know where to go. Another priority is enlarging and formalizing the company's youth and family services programs. "There's a demand for a more comprehensive approach [to sports performance], and that's what we offer," Egazarian said. Powered by pandemic golf surge, Northeast Performance Institute expands, branches out Peter Egazarian Golfers hit the putting green in Southington for instruction from Northeast Performance Institute owner and performance director Peter Egazarian. PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED At a Glance Company: Northeast Performance Institute Industry: Golf/sports training Top Executive: Peter Egazarian, Founder HQ: 1401 Main St., Portland Company Website: https://www.gonpi.org/ Phone Number: 860-996-0800

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