PHOTO: Cheri Koene, co-owner of Float Rooms USA.
From Illinois Business Journal news services
SHILOH — Float Rooms USA, LLC has opened its first Illinois location. The company is one of only three in the U.S. to offer therapeutic floating as an alternative to traditional pain medication.
The company, co-owned by Cheri and Loek Koene, is the North American distributor for Ocean Float Rooms Ltd. and Float Rooms Nederland BV. Illinois native Cheri Koene said choosing Shiloh as the first Midwest site fits with the couple’s intentions of pumping up the Illinois economy.
“We are proud to be from Illinois,” Koene said. “Illinois has gotten a bad rap the past several years. But everyone, who has lived here for some time, knows the state can be great again. Float Center Shiloh will be a destination for those seeking pain relief for chronic medical conditions. It will also be a showroom demo center for those looking to install their own float rooms commercially or residentially.”
The customized rooms are 8 feet tall, span the width of either a full-size or king-size bed and contain 10 inches of pharmaceutical grade Epsom salt. They remove the gravity from a floater’s body, so the mind is able to reset and relieve pain and stress. Cheri Koene says floating has been popular in Europe for years as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, kidney ailments, anorexia nervosa and more.
The company received valuable support from Metro East Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Shortly after Float Rooms USA incorporated in 2013, the Koenes met with U.S. Customs on the importing of their finished product. SBDC Business Specialist Jo Ann DiMaggio May worked with Koene one-on-one, helping connect her with America’s Central Port in Granite City and with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center for detailed insight on how to seamlessly receive product into the U.S. Koene is in the process of moving the company’s float room manufacturing site from London to the Metro East.
“If it were not for Jo Ann and the SBDC, I would not be where I am today,” said Koene, who regularly shares the business expertise she receives from the SBDC with her U.S. clients, who are seeking to build and operate float centers. “Jo Ann and Patrick (McKeehan, SBDC director) were pivotal in helping to refine and strengthen the Float Rooms USA business plan, so we could secure a line of credit. The SBDC also connected us to SIUE marketing students who performed valuable market research for our business.”
DiMaggio May credits the Koenes with a solid work ethic.
“I am so excited for Cheri and Loek,” she said. “They have worked so hard to make Float Center Shiloh a reality. I anticipate great success and look forward to ‘floating’ along with them on this journey.”
The local SBDC office also educated Koene in regard to searching for grants and other funding opportunities, information Koene also passes along to her clients.
Commerce Bank stepped forward with a line of credit for the Koenes, who have installed 15 float rooms in eight cities. Float Center Shiloh, which opened Nov. 1, is located in Green Mount Crossing at Interstate 64 East. A second Metro East location will open in Edwardsville, she said.
Koene knows firsthand the healing qualities of floating. Personal health struggles led her out of a stressful career in law and into floating. In 2012, Koene underwent four rounds of operations and 16 injections into her hands for nerve-related injuries.
“The Metro East SBDC is also helping us establish the Cheri Float Foundation as a way to give back to people who could benefit from floatation, but don’t have the means to pay for treatment,” Koene said. “Research shows that 95 percent of all illness is caused by stress. Floating helps relieve the pain associated with illness.”
Metro East SBDC assists start-up businesses and existing companies headquartered in the nine-county Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is a service to the community supported by the Small Business Administration.
Contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.