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Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

Isolation Is What Floats His Business

Crash Hoefler left the music business 14 years ago and started making sensory deprivation tanks – booths that shut out all sound and light, allowing people to float in warm salt water entirely free of distractions, for relaxation.

And now his Venice company, Float Lab Technologies, is about to expand with a new site in Westwood. The Venice storefront has two booths (he charges $40 for two hours in the tank), and he said the waiting list has grown to two weeks for a weekday session and a month for weekend sessions. The Westwood site, chosen for its proximity to UCLA, will have 10 booths.

“We have too much business,” Hoefler said.

He had worked as an audio engineer at nightclubs and casinos in Las Vegas, and was designing his own sound studio when he was struck by the idea of building the flotation tanks, selling them or offering relaxation sessions.

“I thought, ‘Oh, everybody’s going to want to buy one of these’,” Hoefler said. “I’d make thousands of chambers to sell.”

Then reality hit: “Nobody wanted one.”

But Hoefler moved to Los Angeles the year after conceiving the company and he managed to build a market here, selling tank sessions and the tanks themselves. He also offered a vibrating device that visitors could stand on, but has dropped that feature. Clients include TV personality Joe Rogan, who Hoefler says has helped promote Float Lab by calling the tank experience hallucinogenic. Hoefler wouldn’t provide sales figures.

He and business partner Ian Wilson give customers an orientation before tank sessions. The company has no other employees, but hires contractors to assemble tanks at private homes and businesses. Float Lab sells tanks for $3,750 and installs them for $2,500 – a three-day job.

Hoefler has applied for certification from National Sanitation Foundation, an organization in Ann Arbor, Mich., that tests product safety. He has also applied for patents. It’s a two-year process that he believes will make the business stronger.

“You’re best to build your cart before you put your horses out there,” Hoefler said. “We have a stable full of horses and we’re commencing to let those guys out.”

– Subrina Hudson


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