After starting his career in fitness nearly two decades ago doing international sourcing and business development, Kris Reibel has returned to his roots.
With a company begun 15 years ago named "International Companies Inc.," Reibel, founder of the now-defunct retailer Factory Fitness, is working with companies to help them source products, components and even factories in Asia, as well as coordinating and matchmaking business relationships around the world.
"I'm back in the space I was in after college," Reibel told SNEWSÂ®. "It's been moving very fast."
Reibel started in the industry owning a factory in Indiana that moved into the fitness area and became the seed for the name of his chain of retail stores, Factory Fitness, which was founded in 1998 and based in Indianapolis. He left the chain in January 2004 and went to work for Bladez as the director of fitness. The Factory Fitness retail chain, owned 49 percent by Life Fitness, went bankrupt and liquidated due to company management disagreements almost immediately after Reibel left the business and his post as CEO in January 2004. (Click here for an April 12, 2004, SNEWSÂ® story, "Retailer Factory Fitness to shutter its doors for good.") Previously, the chain had quickly grown to a respected top-25 position in the country among specialty retail. Reorganization at Bladez meant Reibel left that company in early 2005. (Click here for a May 12, 2005, SNEWSÂ® story, "Bladez Fitness finishing reorganization for next product/sales push.")
In his current position -- feeding partly off a college major in international business -- Reibel said he is helping several North American-based fitness equipment companies work their way through the factory system in Asia as well as working with Asian manufacturers to help them find product placement. He also sources OEM products and works with factories making fitness components in the same building as components for Mercedes and Harley-Davidson, he said. Some of his work is in the medical products and fishing industries.
"There are a lot of problems with people who are trying to buy product over there," he said. "The reality is, it's so logistically difficult to get your arms around and the qualification process for a great factory relationship is quite unique.
"The interesting thing about Asia is," he added, "everybody will tell you they can do it."
Reibel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNEWSÂ® View: An ever-entrepreneurial guy, Reibel is always sure to bounce back and come up with another company or position that will allow him the freedom he needs to take on the business he can accomplish. Look for him at about every show in the coming year as he shuttles between Asia, Europe and North America making the matches and closing the deals.