Bodyguard again going through changes, but product status quo

In the last few months, Bodyguard Fitness has gained a new general manager, parted ways with its North American sales manager, and cancelled its strength line.
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In the last few months, Bodyguard Fitness has gained a new general manager, parted ways with its North American sales manager, and cancelled its strength line.

Despite that, the company still hasn't come through with long-promised image and product revamps we've been hearing about since late 2004, although dealers say the company is still doing well with service response and product delivery.

"I believe in Bodyguard, and there are good things ahead," said David Aykanian, co-owner of Massachusetts-based Precision Fitness. "I wouldn't trade them for another company."

The latest news: Dave Taylor, North American sales manager for about 2.5 years, has left the company.

"I'm not working there anymore," Taylor told SNEWS®. "We came to a mutual agreement to part ways. There is a new general manager, and they've decided they were going to go in a different direction."

Taylor left the company right before the holidays in late December 2005. No replacement has been named and it is unclear whether one will be named. Bodyguard chose not to respond by deadline to repeated requests over nearly three weeks by voicemail and email for comment about its strategy, but has promised an in-depth interview later this month.

Taylor (Big13@optonline.net) told SNEWS® he intended to stay in the industry, one where he's spent nearly 25 years. Previously, he was at Muscle Dynamics for 13 years and before that at Nautilus for nearly seven.

"Bodyguard feels the need to approach it differently, and I wish them all the luck in the world," Taylor added.

Meanwhile, Gaetan Blais was appointed the general manager of Procycle fitness division, Bodyguard, in October 2005. No information was available from the Canada-based company about his background or goals.

In July 2005, Bodyguard had announced the company had canceled its Newton strength line.

In late 2004, Taylor had spoken to SNEWS® about a new image and an array of new products that would be introduced by Bodyguard in 2005. At that time, he had said some categories would be "tweaked" while others would get "extreme makeovers." Little has happened to the line in the last year, however, including any movement in its need for ellipticals.

One retailer who wished to remain anonymous told SNEWS® that there has been a "revolving door" at the company lately, but the store's staff still likes the product and it sells well. Although it desperately needs updating in features and aesthetics, the retailer added, it sells itself simply because "people still want quality" over bells and whistles. However, the retailer added, that if the company doesn't do some makeovers soon, the fear is Bodyguard equipment could nevertheless be left behind in a year.

Other executive changes in the last 18 months have included the retirement of long-time Bodyguard General Manager Jack Landry in mid-2004, the departure of long-time International Sales Manager Mike Cochrane in August 2004, the promotion of Denis Jutras to the position of general manager from Procycle's Rocky Mountain Bike division, and then his departure in early 2005. CEO Raymond Dutil had been acting as general manager until Blais was appointed in October.

With regional reps in place, Taylor said business in the United States should continue without disruption.

SNEWS® View: Although the product has remained solid and still sells well, it is quickly falling behind in aesthetics and features, which these days can mean the life or death of a line. We certainly hope that Blais makes some swift moves to update the line, to add ellipticals that can compete, and to make its sturdy equipment speak to the increasing aesthetics demands of many of today's consumers. If that doesn't happen quickly, the fitness equipment division may slip too far behind to be able to scramble back up the slope. We hope that doesn't happen, and are confident the management won't let it happen. We also continue to hope that Blais will find time to comment about its strategy and changes.

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