With the move of Johnson Health Tech-owned brand Matrix Fitness from the southwest to Madison, Wis., and personal re-thinking of what fitness can be, Matrix founder and President Ken Lucas has left the company.
He has taken the position of managing director of Sportwall (www.sportwall.com) as of Jan. 15.
"It's a very positive thing," Lucas told SNEWSÂ®. "In the end, this seems like a better opportunity than selling leg extensions."
Lucas will consult with Matrix during a three-month transition. Meanwhile, Nathan Pyles will assume the title and duties of Matrix CEO as the company settles into its new headquarters in Madison, where Johnson companies Horizon and Vision are based.
"We are very grateful to Ken, with all his years of experience in this industry, for getting the Matrix brand launched," Pyles said in a statement. "His deep knowledge of the commercial fitness industry and numerous contacts shortened Matrix's learning curve by years."
Initially, Johnson announced last fall, as it was beginning to move Matrix headquarters from Albuquerque, N.M., to Madison, that Lucas would assume a role overseeing global sales, but would remain in his hometown of Albuquerque. Since then, however, Lucas said he had an opportunity with Carpinteria, Calif.-based, Sportwall that sounded appealing.
"In the end, fitness is a consequence of having fun," he said. "It makes sense to me.
"There's something to this," he added about the fitness-oriented games of Sportwall. "It may not be the whole answer, but it's a good start."
Matrix was founded in Lucas' basement in early 2000 and made its debut to the industry at the Club Industry show in October 2001. In 2003, Matrix began a partnership with Sportwall, showing and promoting the product in or near its booth at several shows.
Although Sportwall pulled at Lucas, he said, it was still difficult to walk away from something he started because of emotional ties. The move by Matrix Fitness to Madison, also the home of Johnson Health Tech North America's R & D center (see SNEWSÂ® story, Dec. 6, 2004, "Johnson Health Tech brands see benefits from U.S.-based R&D center"), helped seal his decision.
Lucas can be reached through Sportwall, 1-800-695-5056. He and the company will be at the upcoming IHRSA show in San Francisco in March and at other shows.
SNEWSÂ® View: Lucas has an infectious energy and enthusiasm not only for fitness but also for spreading the word of physical activity to the non-active and to youth. Heck, when we talked to him last, he was running around in a playground after his 3-year-old getting ready to hit the slides and swings. We've also seen Sportwall in action at shows -- even adults can't stay away from its fun and games -- so we bet the partnership between Sportwall and Lucas will be a positive one for all involved. He also promises additional news about other endeavors in the fitness industry.