Kevin Lamar launches own equipment company to debut at HFB

Barely three months after parting ways with Nautilus, Kevin Lamar will unveil his own company -- Lamar Health, Fitness & Sport -- at the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver.
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Barely three months after parting ways with Nautilus, Kevin Lamar will unveil his own company -- Lamar Health, Fitness & Sport -- at the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver.

Tucked away in a meeting room near Precor, Nautilus, True and others, Lamar will have seven pieces of equipment at the company's debut -- upright and recumbent bikes, free weights and home gyms. The cardiovascular equipment will be under license with Universal and will carry that brand name. The brand on the strength equipment is still to be determined and could carry either the Lamar name or the name of another company under license.

"I was interviewing with a lot of people in the cycling and fitness business and had some wonderful opportunities offered to me," Lamar told SNEWS® on the eve of the HFB show opening on Aug. 19. "But I decided I'm going to make a run for it."

Part of his decision is because of his family's desire to remain in Boulder, Colo., a community he loves and where he and his wife Christine and their three children (14, 11 and 8) have been rooted for years.

Since most offers since his departure from Nautilus in May (see SNEWS story, June 1) would have involved moving or traveling and living away from home for large chunks of time, he said he opted to found his own company barely six weeks ago -- with offices ironically on Nautilus Court in Gunbarrel, Colo.

"It has been so fast and furious here lately," Lamar said. "It's been such a whirlwind, but I'm amazed what we could get done in a few weeks."

In addition to himself, his wife will be employee No. 1, taking charge of human resources, logistics, dealer agreements and a lot of other start-up business. Also joining him are former Nautilus executive Al Cockrill; Jolene Woelk, who was Lamar's executive assistant at Nautilus; Steve Fether; Barry Arnold, who will head up customer service and also has past experience at Nautilus; and sales rep Chuck Sikora, who comes from the independent bike dealer (IBD) market.  

Lamar knows that he and his company won't just waltz into retailers: "We're not at a loss for competition,…but we just want a small shot, and we'll see as we go."

The company's goal is to offer "a decent range of equipment" and not try to be "everything to everybody," he said. In addition, he is adamant he wants to stay small, remain a private company, put an emphasis on high service, offer excellent dealer margins, keep the supply chain lean, and look to offer something different (including in the company's designs and technology).

"We want to create a Boulder culture company and a family company," he said.

The company expects to get its Taiwan-made equipment to retailers by November and will build a multi-level price offering of "good, better, best," Lamar said, but will not likely venture into premium price equipment.  

In addition to equipment, the Lamar company will work with the Crocs shoe company, which makes molded clog-style shoes that are highly cushioned and lightweight, as a distributor in IBD, specialty fitness and health clubs. Lamar himself is "addicted to these things" and even lifts weights in Crocs. They will be working together on other athletic models of the polymer shoes and expect to have them out in about two months. Crocs (www.crocs.com) will also have a booth at the HFB show in Denver.

Lamar was under a non-compete agreement with Nautilus since he resigned May 24, but the companies negotiated an additional agreement that allows Lamar to follow his entrepreneurial path.

"Nautilus was fair, and I'm happy with the way it came out," he said. As he added about the birth of his own company, "I just said, 'Let's go for it.'"

SNEWS® View: Like we said in our story June 1, we expected Lamar to land quickly and quietly after he "resigned" from Nautilus, with that landing being perhaps in cycling or fitness or a combination of the two industries, and even maybe on his own. And that's exactly what happened. He's not a man to let grass grow under his feet -- and grow it didn't. Within weeks, he quilted together a plan to do it his way, found employees, roared back and forth to Taiwan, developed prototypes and partnerships, and worked his years of relationships. Of course, Lamar likes the adventure of rolling up his sleeves and digging in, which is where the Lamar company is now as a newborn. That should keep Lamar energized, thinking, dreaming and smiling. If he can keep the adventure of a startup and indeed do things his way, that smile should stay on his face for a long time. We wish the best of luck to Lamar and company. To reach Lamar, email klamar83@aol.com or call 303-717-1442. Lamar Health, Fitness & Sport is at 4699 Nautilus Court South, Gunbarrel, CO 80301. And that address really is no joke.

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