Harbinger, a strong accessories company in the United States, and Grizzly, a well-known weight-training accessory company in Canada, have partnered to sell each other's products.
The distribution agreement will give Harbinger, based in Napa, Calif., a big foot up in the Canadian market, as well as allowing it to have a broader product selection in its home U.S. market with the Grizzly line. The arrangement also helps Grizzly make a bigger statement in the United States than it's been able to do in the past.
"When we were looking to broaden our Canadian business, we started chatting about their being our distributor of Harbinger products in Canada," said Michele Gaedke, Harbinger's marketing director.
Next thing you know, Harbinger realized that Grizzly also had a strong line of core weight-lifting products that Harbinger was missing, moving the two companies toward a partner arrangement.
"We are still two separate companies," Gaedke said, "but we're doing this partnership deal."
Harbinger's line has moved more and more in the direction of fitness accessories and training with slightly higher price points and more of an eye on aesthetics, including cross-training, circuit-training and biking. Grizzly's line has "stayed true to the hard-core loyal gym guy," Gaedke said. It includes all the straps, belts, hooks and machine attachments a true weight lifter or power lifter wants -- the kind who is grunting in the gym every morning at 5 a.m. and wears balloon pants and a ripped tank tip.
"We never really got into that," she said. "They really focus on it."
Harbinger has taken two Grizzly products -- a lifting hook and an ankle cuff -- upgraded them slightly, branded them with the Harbinger name and added them to its catalog. Otherwise, the product lines remain in separate catalogs and true to each other.
"We're not asking retailers to choose between the product lines," Gaedke said. Rather, retailers can pick whatever products they want from either.
The other change is that Grizzly now can compete better in the U.S. market since it doesn't need to import from Canada but rather can import directly into the United States from Asia to Harbinger.
"The Grizzly and Harbinger product lines complement each other very nicely," said Andrew Riding, general manager of Grizzly Fitness. "Harbinger's strength in gloves and broad selection of hand exercise accessory items dovetail with Grizzly's traditional strength in training aids."
SNEWSÂ® View: This is a great deal for both companies. Harbinger has not focused on pure, power-lifting, gym-rat sort of product, while Grizzly has that area down pat, but has missed some of the finesse in products that Harbinger has managed. Together, they could give retailers more options, especially as a one-stop shop.