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Meet Paul Diefenderfer of Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Diefenderfer.

Paul, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began rock climbing in 1975. In 1992, I started PRG with a friend. We each put in $10,000. We rented part of a warehouse, bought a bunch of lumber and started building. On opening day, we had $7 left in our checking account. People started climbing and we were profitable from the start. As the business grew we build more walls. I bought my friend out three years later. In 2000 I bought our current building – bought a bunch of steel and lumber and started building.

We moved into the new building in December 2000 with half the building filled with climbing walls. Once again, I put the profits back into the gym. I kept building more walls in the mornings before we opened each day at 3pm. The only debt the business has ever had has been the mortgage. I think this is an important part of why we have stayed profitable for 25 years. PRG was the first rock gym in Arizona and is still the largest.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Phoenix Rock Gym – what should we know?
We try very hard to make PRG a fun comfy place to have fun while climbing. We never adopted the standard “sign a contract” type of membership gym. My theory is that if you have a good product your customers will want to come back and spend their money with your business. We make it easy for members to put their membership on hold if they can use it for any reason.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Eric Ramsey – my original business partner. He made it a joy to work long hours together making PRG a success.


  • Day Pass $15 – With Gear $20
  • Month Pass $50 – With Gear $70

Contact Info:

Image Credits:
Paul Dief

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