LeMond, Med-Fit partner for distribution, mutual company growth - SNEWS

LeMond, Med-Fit partner for distribution, mutual company growth

LeMond Fitness and Med-Fit Systems have partnered to sell and develop indoor cycling products. Med-Fit will be the exclusive North American distributor for LeMond indoor group and stationary bicycles.
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With an eye on mutual company and product growth, LeMond Fitness and Med-Fit Systems have partnered to sell and develop indoor cycling products. Med-Fit, owner of the Nautilus name for the commercial channel for nearly two years, will be the exclusive North American distributor for LeMond indoor group and stationary bicycles, focusing on its key markets in medical, rehabilitation and commercial. LeMond will continue to manage its retail distribution.

“This is going to accelerate growth,” LeMond CEO Mark Handfelt told SNEWS. “I’m really excited about this because it’s a combination of two heritage brands that have recognition in the community, and we’re committed to growing together.

For his part, Med-Fit (www.medfitsystems.com) founder and CEO Dean Sbragia noted that the sales and marketing arrangement not only will boost the Med-Fit’s distributed product line, but will also allow LeMond to get its products into places that remain difficult for a company with one product segment.

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“We can get them into some markets where it’s hard to compete without a complete quiver,” Sbragia told SNEWS.

Moving forward

LeMond (www.lemondfitness.com) lost its prior partner for the commercial market, Life Fitness, just over two years ago after a legal quarrel that involved lawsuits, countersuits and a bit of name-calling. Life Fitness, which had partnered with LeMond since June 2002 (click here to read that SNEWS story), called the LeMond RevMaster bikes “lemons” in a suit that asked for $3.9 million in damages (click here to read that June 1, 2009, SNEWS story). Countering in a suit, LeMond charged breach of contract and sought damages (click here to see that June 29, 2009, SNEWS story).

The two companies settled the dispute out of court (click here for an Aug. 10, 2009, SNEWS story), and Life Fitness has continued to provide service, support and parts for LeMond bikes its customers have, Handfelt said.

Moving forward with Med-Fit, LeMond’s Handfelt said he believes the medical fitness market is extremely important – and he hinted the company had other products in the works that would be a good fit there, as well as in traditional commercial settings. The two could work on that development together.

“We want to move people off the treadmills and onto the bike by providing a more functional feeling,” he said. “And there’s a lot of people who don’t ride outside because of weather, traffic, …”

Sbragia noted that there are increasing opportunities in the fitness market because some large companies are struggling and having LeMond product helps beef up the Med-Fit offering and options.

“They have some pretty sophisticated products that fit nicely into the medical and rehab facilities,” said Sbragia, who founded Med-Fit 24 years ago. Before the company acquired the Nautilus assets, its business was exclusively medical fitness; now, he said, medical fitness accounts for about 20 percent.

Growth on the horizon

This partnership is one of several steps Southern California-based Med-Fit has taken to grow. The company acquired the Nautilus commercial assets in early 2010 (click here to see that Feb. 24, 2010, SNEWS story). With that integration behind it, Med-Fit recently acquired SportKat LLC, an FDA-regulated computerized balance assessment and training equipment company based in Vista, Calif. (click here to see a Nov. 7, 2011, Industry News Release). Sbragia said the most recent acquisition and partnership agreements may not be the last, but declined to reveal details.

“There are a lot of complementary things that we can incorporate,” Sbragia said, “that can allow us to serve various populations.

--Therese Iknoian

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