Longtime pharma friends try their hands at massage business, in Morristown

Dale Carmody and Dave Shawger used to work for Merck and Novartis, respectively. Now they're trying their hand at the massage business. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Dale Carmody and Dave Shawger used to work for Merck and Novartis, respectively. Now they're trying their hand at the massage business. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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The newest entry into Morristown’s wellness community made it official on Tuesday with the snip of a ribbon on Market Street.

Massage Heights Morristown is a venture of two longtime pals from the pharmaceutical industry.  Dave Shawger and Dale Carmody, who both live in town, wanted to start a business near the historic Morristown Green. It took them awhile to settle on what sort of business.

Pete Befano of Massage Heights Morristown helps town Administrator Jillian Barrick relax prior to council meeting, June 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Pete Befano of Massage Heights Morristown helps town Administrator Jillian Barrick relax prior to council meeting, June 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“As I get older, I want to do things that not only make me feel good, but that help others,” said Shawger, 56, who met Carmody, 55, years ago when they volunteered at the Community Soup Kitchen. 

Losing his father and sister to cancer within the last few years swayed Shawger to explore the wellness field. 

Since opening the franchise a few weeks ago, his 20-member team has welcomed some Stage 4 cancer patients, he said. Some come for lymphatic draining, others just “to feel good,” he said.

The arrival of Massage Heights leaves about 15,000 square feet left to fill, out of the 70,000 square feet of commercial space created by the Epstein’s redevelopment, said Jennifer Wehring, executive director of the Morristown Partnership.

In the late 2000s, the former Epstein’s department store became the 40 Park luxury condos and the Metropolitan luxury apartments, with retail space at street level and in the basement.

Market Street’s transformation will continue with the addition of a boutique hotel and an apartment complex that received town approvals this year.

Ribbon cutting for Massage Heights Morristown. Town Administrator Jillian Barrick is on the right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Ribbon cutting for Massage Heights Morristown. Town Administrator Jillian Barrick is on the right. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Carmody said he visited quite a few massage centers “under cover,” to size up the competition. Massage Heights aims for an aromatic, friendly, family atmosphere, he said.

Clients include New York Jets players and people like Morris Township resident Robin Robertson, who said she’s been a fan of masseur Pete Befano for 30 years.

At Tuesday’s grand opening, Befano gave a short massage to town Administrator Jillian Barrick.

“It was fabulous,” she said.

Prices for a full massage are $119; facials are $139. For members, it’s $69/$79 per month.

 

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