In an editorial last week, SNEWS® helped spread the word expressed so well by Diamondback President Steve Lindenau about the need for fitness industry collaboration as a way to help it move ahead and grow -- especially now.
Wrote Lindenau, "This industry has to drop its pettiness, and collaborate to promote our industry. To be honest, instead of fielding two dozen calls about whether my company is going out of business or not, I would have much rather talked to both suppliers and retailers about ways to promote our industry and make it stronger."
SNEWS® in an article in its first annual GearTrends® Fitness magazine in 2003 expressed similar thoughts (click here to see that piece), but it did not see the outpouring of letters, emails and calls to ourselves, our author or to the SNEWS® Industry Chat we are seeing now. Perhaps the time wasn't right. We believe, like many who have chimed in, the time is right now.
Click here to see the most recent editorial story on Feb. 11, 2008, and a long chain of responses posted to the SNEWS® Industry Chat that follows it. The letters -- there are others that have not been posted yet -- come from all sides, including retailers and manufacturers, both small and large. They have lots of suggestions about what we should do more or less of and what we need to change. Interestingly, although they don't always agree with each other, each and every one says nearly the same thing: It's time to figure this out and work together.
>> Mike Cochrane of manufacturer RedZone Fitness wrote in part, "What can be done? I have discussed and have been involved with trying to band a few manufactures together (that) would represent a MINIMUM standard and marketing practice. I have to tell you that they look at me like deer in headlights. It will take a minimum standard group that will (not collusion) support SPECIALTY FITNESS. This group would have an Internet site and dealers would need to post the logo on theirs as well as manufacturers. A non profit association with revolving board of directors."
>> Wrote Samuel Baruch of retailer Better Health in New York in part, "I hope the industry can come together on this issue. It will require a re-evaluation of the focus on customer service as the main component, ("What would be in the consumers best long term interest?") not to just increase the amount of units shipped."
>> Scott Logan, of SportsArt Fitness, laid out some basic needs of an association or group, but then concluded, "There are plenty of people out there with … experience with industry associations that can help with the details, if we ever get to that point. I just know that the industry as a whole would benefit if awareness were raised about the benefits of high quality fitness equipment and the specialty dealers that sell it."
>> And, added Charles Hoffman, owner of retailer Body Works Exercise in Orange County, California, "I remember reading somewhere about an organization called Procrastinators Anonymous. I think they had been in existence for some years but had never gotten around to having a meeting. My point is, let's stop talking about doing something and actually combine our resources!"
To that end, SNEWS® would like to help facilitate the industry as it potentially moves toward an independent association or, at minimum, an advisory board that can work with SNEWS® as its communication platform.
Both SNEWS® editor-in-chief Therese Iknoian and Diamondback President Steve Lindenau will meet at the IHRSA show in San Diego on Thursday morning, March 6, to begin a casual chat about what can be done and how. The location is to be determined, but if you are interested -- either in attending or in being informed as the movement progresses -- please email IWantIn@snewsnet.com, and SNEWS® will keep you in the loop. Meanwhile, keep reading SNEWS® for up-to-date news and details of any plans. Already, letter-writers have suggested that having some kind of kick-off meeting at the Health & Fitness Business Expo in Denver July 17-18, 2008, would be ideal.
We would like to hear your thoughts. We would also like to have as many of them as possible posted on SNEWS® for all to read and discuss. Just click here to add your comments and thoughts to the existing and rapidly growing SNEWS® Industry Chat discussion around the topic of collaboration and growing our market, together.