FreeMotion relocating to owner Icon's Utah facility to pare costs

In another industry move that is intended to save money, FreeMotion Fitness will move out of its long-time Colorado headquarters to a new office at a Utah distribution center owned by its parent, Icon Health & Fitness.
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In another industry move that is intended to save money, FreeMotion Fitness will move out of its long-time Colorado headquarters to a new office at a Utah distribution center owned by its parent, Icon Health & Fitness.

The move will mean the layoff of about 39 employees of about 85 at the Colorado offices since some operations, including purchasing and shipping, will now be handled by Icon's current staff. Icon will in turn hire 12 new customer service representatives to focus on FreeMotion. The change became official April 7, and the transition will begin immediately with all operations to be located in Ogden, Utah, by early fall, a spokeswoman said.

"We're adjusting for the economic conditions," Patrick Hald, CEO of FreeMotion, told SNEWS®. "The business is still full-steam ahead…. We're going to leverage the synergies of the corporate parent."

FreeMotion Fitness, Icon's commercial division, was acquired by the Logan, Utah-based, company in 2000 less than a year after Icon launched its own commercial division called NordicTrack, which specialized in cardiovascular equipment and was led by Hald. FreeMotion had only strength equipment when it debuted (then known as Ground Zero), the brainchild of inventor Roy Simonson, formerly of Cybex. Simonson, who lived in and founded the company in Colorado Springs, left the company in early 2005. Colleen Logan, Icon vice president of marketing, said part of the reason the company had stayed in Colorado after it was acquired by Icon was because of an agreement with Simonson.

FreeMotion, still led by Hald, became Icon's single commercial entity, with both cardiovascular and strength, in the last couple of years as the NordicTrack commercial brand was phased out, she said. FreeMotion launched its specialty retail and vertical line last year.

Logan said the company's customers can now visit one area to see both lines and employees won't have to shuttle back and forth. She agreed that it's never easy to shut down a headquarters in one state and layoff longtime staff, but "the logistical benefits are tremendous….. There are opportunities to save some money."

Three departments -- customer care, order entry, and shipping and logistics -- will be taken over by Icon. Some jobs will become available and will be offered to former FreeMotion employees who care to relocate, Hald said. He emphasized the strength FreeMotion will gain from Icon's proximity and experience.

"Icon truly understands commercial and specialty is a unique business," he said, "and it remains dedicated to those channels. The proof's in the pudding. We're bringing innovation to the category."

With the current economy, cutbacks at retail, price increases for steel and iron, inflation in Asia and a weak dollar, finding a way to save money is vital.

"These are serious matters," she said. "Part of what's driving this is the challenging economy for all manufacturers in and out of the industry."

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