Body Masters shuts down after three decades

After three decades of manufacturing high-end commercial fitness equipment, Body Masters has shut down operations. Knight Companies, a firm that specializes in oilfield and fishing tools, has acquired Body Masters' bank note and is foreclosing on the manufacturing facility including most of the manufacturing equipment.
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After three decades of manufacturing high-end commercial fitness equipment, Body Masters has shut down operations.

Knight Companies, a firm that specializes in oilfield and fishing tools, has acquired Body Masters' bank note and is foreclosing on the manufacturing facility including most of the manufacturing equipment, Knight vice president and general counsel Dean Cole told SNEWS®.

Based 15 miles from Body Masters Sports Industries former headquarters and plant in Louisiana, Knight (www.knightoiltools.com) plans to acquire and use the manufacturing facility to manufacture oilfield tools and equipment. The Lafayette-based company is the world's largest privately held oilfield rental and oilfield fishing tool company in the world.

Calls to and messages left for Body Masters in Rayne, La., have gone unanswered in the last month, according to several customers, and in late 2008 and into January 2009, employees have been laid-off. Sometime in the latter part of February, all telephone numbers were disconnected. On Feb. 27, most numbers had an automated message that said the number had been "temporarily disconnected" and "no additional information is available." The website (www.body-masters.com) was still live as of Feb. 27.

If Knight completes the foreclosure process, Cole said that the Knight company could evaluate the fitness market to determine if the company would again use the facility to manufacture exercise equipment, but "it wouldn't be Body Masters (brand)." Although that remained a possibility, he said, with the current state of the market, it is not one of Knight's goals. "Ultimately, after the foreclosure, we'll have the manufacturing equipment so if the market dictates," Knight could decide to go in that direction too, he added.

Representatives of Body Masters could not be reached for comment and calls were not returned.

Property seized

According to a representative of the clerk's office of Acadia Parish, the parish where Rayne is located, the city of Rayne won a judgment against Body Masters for its failure to pay city taxes for 2008 of about $6,200 plus penalties and interest. She said the company was shut down at that time. On Jan. 28, the Acadia Parish sheriff's office issued a writ of seizure and sale for property at the Body Masters facility, which the representative said included of 18 pages.

The agents of record for Body Masters, founder Robert Thomas Cline and his son and CEO Parrish Cline, were not immediately found to be served with the papers on Jan. 29, she said; however, a representative of the Acadia Parish sheriff's office told SNEWS, they have since been served.

A sale by the sheriff of the Body Masters property is set for April 1, 2009, at the front door of the parish courthouse, the notice of seizure obtained by SNEWS stated. A spokeswoman for the sheriff's office said Body Masters has the possibility until that morning at 10 a.m. to have the sale cancelled.

Financial woes not the first

Body Masters has not been without financial turmoil in the last few years. In January 2005, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Click here to see that Jan. 17, 2005, SNEWS story. At that time, spokesman and marketing director Brian Bille told SNEWS, "This filing is just a way to give us the ability to reorganize our debts -- nothing more. It is business as usual for us and, despite what some may say, we are not going anywhere."

The company, under the guidance of CEO Parrish Cline and 22-year company veteran President Ray Boudreaux, guided Body Masters through reorganization, which it exited under court supervision in March 2006. (Click here to see that March 11, 2006, SNEWS story.)

Boudreaux had told SNEWS in November 2005, "Reorganization is not a lot of fun, but we felt all along it was good for the company."

In March 2006, when the company exited bankruptcy court oversight, Boudreaux said, "The work has just really begun. When you emerge like this, you also have to perform. Our plan going-forward impressed the judge."

According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette/Opelousas, the case was officially closed on Jan. 23, 2008.

--Therese Iknoian

SNEWS View: The dominoes are starting to fall and it's not a pretty picture for the industry. And it hasn't even gotten to the so-called "slow" season. Strength equipment has in some way become a commodity and U.S.-based manufacturing until recently had meant significantly higher prices. That may have played into Body Masters' demise, but over the last few years strength-only companies -- less so than cardio-only companies -- had become a liability as more clubs looked to one-stop shopping to help pare costs and lower the number of vendors to deal with. That was becoming even truer as belts tightened when the economy hit a tailspin last year. Nevertheless, Body Masters was one of the long-timers -- it's tough to say adieu to three decades of service to the industry.

--SNEWS® Editors

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