Griner leaves Omni; Life to more closely integrate retailer

Rick Griner, president of Omni Fitness since April 2001, has resigned his position, effective June 15. Chris Clawson, most recently vice president of sales and marketing for the Life Fitness consumer division, has been named to head Omni as "general manager." At the same time, Life Fitness will more closely integrate the retailer owned by its own parent Brunswick Corp., making it more of a showcase for Life products and brands.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Rick Griner, president of Omni Fitness since April 2001, has resigned his position, effective June 15. Chris Clawson, most recently vice president of sales and marketing for the Life Fitness consumer division, has been named to head Omni as "general manager."

At the same time, Life Fitness will more closely integrate the retailer owned by its own parent Brunswick Corp., making it more of a showcase for Life products and brands, Kevin Grodzki, Life Fitness president, told SNEWS. For that reason, Clawson is a general manager and not a president, he added, and for now will remain in the main Life Fitness Franklin Park, Ill., offices where he will oversee day-to-day operations when he is not traveling to stores.

"We want to integrate Omni and make it part of the family," Grodzki said, "and not treat it as a stepchild, as it has been in the past."

The Stamford, Conn.-based, retailer will still carry product that is "complementary" to Life products and that makes it a well-rounded retailer and therefore successful, he said. Omni will not, however, carry direct competitors or products that have many of the same features as Life's, he added.

Griner, who came from a non-fitness retail background, had no comment about the reasons for his departure, where he might be headed, or if he would remain in the fitness industry.

"It's been a wonderful two years with great people," he told SNEWS. "I've enjoyed working with all the associates in the Brunswick organization. I've thoroughly enjoyed my two years in the industry."

Prior to taking over the helm at Omni, Griner was president and COO for Trend-Lines; before that he was senior vice president of operations at Family Dollar Stores Inc.

Before taking over as vice president of sales and marketing for Life Fitness' consumer cardiovascular and strength-training products, Clawson was responsible for sales and marketing. He has also been senior director of product management for commercial cardiovascular products. Before joining Life in 1995, he worked at DP Fitness, and spent six years in retail management with Oshman's, starting there working during off-seasons while playing professional baseball with the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros in the mid-1980s.

"This is an opportunity that arose to run a business, and I'm very excited," Clawson said. "It's an opportunity to learn retail and an opportunity to learn general management skills."

SNEWS View: Griner's mission when he came to Omni was, we are told, to stabilize the retailer. Certainly, the retailer is also struggling to meet its numbers, as are many, but we're not sure that Brunswick is the type of corporation that will put up with losses for very long. Although we are also told there are no "current plans" to sell the retailer, we expect that if numbers don't go up again, Brunswick may re-consider, like any corporation that doesn't want to lose money. Still, having a nationwide chain of retail Life Fitness product showcases gives the manufacturer a certain clout that other brands will lack.

Related

Life sells West Coast Omni stores to Busy Body

In a quiet deal sealed barely a week ago, Life Fitness has sold its 17 West Coast Omni Fitness stores to Busy Body of California. The deal effectively divides the United States into three specialty retail regions, each nearly dominated by one chain -- Busy Body in the West with ...read more

Retailer Omni Fitness for sale? Rumors continue, company says no

So is it for sale or is it not? Omni Fitness, the country's largest specialty fitness retail chain, has been rumored on and off for months to be on the market by Brunswick Corp., its owner since March 2001 and also parent of Life Fitness. Responses to that rumor vary slightly. ...read more

BusyBodySaleSM.jpg

Life Fitness' new distribution strategy opens more retailers in East and West

In a step away from the industry standard of exclusive distribution, Life Fitness has apparently opened its doors and is bringing on dealers in select parts of the United States that are in the same region as its formerly exclusive partners, Omni Fitness and Busy Body Home ...read more

Busy Body owner Hancock Park buys remaining Omni stores from Brunswick

Building a specialty fitness group with bi-coastal reach, Busy Body Home Fitness owner Hancock Park Associates has acquired the Omni Fitness stores from Life Fitness-parent Brunswick. That brings its fitness retail holdings to 104 in 14 states in the northeast and the west -- ...read more

Life Fitness reorganizes to give specialty more attention

After merging the formerly separate consumer and commercial divisions into one company three years ago, Life Fitness has separated the two again to help give specialty and retail customers and product development more focus. "It's the best of both worlds," said Dan Wille, now ...read more

Kevin Grodzki leaves top job at Life Fitness

Despite public kudos from its parent company last month on double-digit sales increases boosting the bottom line, Life Fitness was not exempt from executive management shuffles at Brunswick Corp.(NYSE: BC). Replacing Kevin Grodzki at president of the Life Fitness division is ...read more

Life_Fitness_Chris_Clawson_thumb.jpg

Chris Clawson where he 'belongs’ at Life Fitness

A dozen years ago, when Chris Clawson was treadmill project manager at Life Fitness, he sat down with company founder Augie Nieto and executive vice president Herman Rutgers to discuss his future. “Where do you see yourself at Life Fitness?” Nieto asked him. Clawson let a small ...read more

FIT3_StoreFrontThumb.jpg

Retailer Fit3 closes doors

Fitness retailer Fit3, which had billed itself as “America's largest fitness, health and wellness superstore,” has closed its single store in the Washington, D.C., area after only eight months in business, and four months after it signaled intentions to open a second store. The ...read more

SNEWS Qs: Chris Clawson's talks Life Fitness and awards

At the last few IHRSA and Club Industry trade shows, the Life Fitness booth has been buzzing with people, with staff busily answering questions about the LFopen platform and Synergy360 functional training gym. President Chris Clawson has been a major force in driving the ...read more