BOSTON -- The Dow is falling and voices are rising at Adams, Harkness and Hill. Equity trading director Ben Marsh is shouting ''At 20 7/8, I'm a buyer!'' across the trading room floor.
The daily wave of stress is about to crash -- time for Jim Kilcoyne to go to work.
''Up higher, on the back of my neck,'' Marsh tells Kilcoyne during a brief pause in the action.
Kilcoyne is the onsite massage therapist, and he says recent stock market volatility has been a boon for business.
Companies, some of which subsidize the costs, get more relaxed employees. And Kilcoyne and his fellow massage therapists get access to their dream demographic: highly stressed people with money to burn.
''It's a 15-minute rubdown,'' said Marsh, who brought the idea to Adams, Harkness and Hill's Boston office when he moved from New York. ''It's like a boxer going back to his corner.''
Kilcoyne -- the only man in the trading room in a tie on -- unfolds a portable stand that props up Marsh at his desk. A hole in the mask allows Marsh to breathe and see normally, and he keeps right on trading through the rubdown. It's the closest thing to a break he can afford.
Once Kilcoyne finishes with Marsh, other traders get their chance. The cost is $1 a minute.
Trader Jeanne McCloskie said she hoped to indulge later in the day, but only if she wasn't too busy to enjoy it.
''The uncertainty of the markets can make you crazed,'' she said.
Kilcoyne is a laid-back, low-stress kind of guy. He's making a pretty good living, hitting several companies a week, sometimes for as long as eight straight hours.
Joanne Atkinson likewise says her Boston business, Backbeat, has boomed amid recent market volatility. She got into the onsite massage business three years ago after several years of ''on the table'' massage work.
''I think with all the mergers, people are just being asked to do an unreasonable amount of work under a lot of pressure,'' said Atkinson, who has several employees and often works from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. ''In many cases, they don't even know whether they're going to have a job next month.''
So far, there's been only a little friendly competition in the budding industry with companies referring clients to each other when their schedules don't fit. That may change soon.
Atkinson said she regularly is called by curious strangers looking to get into the business, and she's thinking of franchising. There are few overhead expenses, so entrepreneurs face few hurtles going into the business for themselves.
Still, Kilcoyne said there's no real reason to worry about the client pool drying up.
''There's so much stress out there, there's no real reason to be cutthroat,'' he says.
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