After 31 years of exclusively "Made in the U.S.A." manufacturing, Southern California-based Muscle Dynamics has hopped onboard the increasingly crowded ship headed for overseas manufacturing. The company's new 13-piece single-station selectorized line and 20 free weight units, called Dynamax Pro, are Muscle Dynamics' first products made in China.
No surprise that introducing the new lines assembled offshore comes down to money.
"We were seeing our market share erode a bit," former vice president of sales Dave Taylor told SNEWS (he has since moved over to a similar sales position overseeing commercial at Bodyguard). "The cost of doing business in the U.S., and particularly in California, was hurting us."
Designed for vertical markets, the new, bolt-together equipment has average selling prices for selectorized of about $1,600, or roughly 30 percent lower than the company's existing welded Maxicam selectorized 2000 Series. The new free weight units are slightly cheaper than what the company already offers, but still are competitive, with a multi-purpose bench at $295 and a three-tier dumbbell rack at $550.
Essentially, labor was the only area the company trimmed costs, Taylor told SNEWS, as Dynamax products are built with the same 2-x-3, 11-gauge steel, plus has steel weight stacks and footprints that existing pieces offer today. Even the upholstery, the powder coat finish, and the handgrips are the same. Plus, the new selectorized machines feature shrouds, which are not included on the Maxicam line.
What's also noticeable is that M.D. is offering the same warranty as on existing productsâ€”lifetime on the frame and welds, one year on moveable parts and 90 days on wearable items such as pads and grips.
Given its heritage, the company had invested more than two years seeking a manufacturer that would build to its specifications while controlling costs. Declining to name the manufacturer, Taylor only said that it is a "major one."
"We wanted to duplicate what we were doing in the U.S., and it was really eye-opening to see the high-quality product we could bring in at very reasonable prices," Taylor said.
Company dealers got a sneak peek at The Super Show and at IHRSA earlier this year, and were enthusiastic, he said, about the products, price points and margins. The new Dynamax machines will be officially unveiled in August at the Health and Fitness Business Show in Denver.
Plans at the moment indicate that all the company's current product will still be made in the U.S. Although the company says it's not worried about cannibalization, Taylor realizes that the new Dynamax selectorized may replace Maxicam over time, but thinks that there is room for both lines of free weights.
But, SNEWS wanted to know, will that "Made in the U.S.A." sticker eventually read something different for all its equipment?
"We've been known for U.S.-built products, and we believe there always will be a market for these. But as the market changes, we'll have to change to keep competitive. Only time will tell how the products are acceptedâ€”anything is a possibility."
SNEWS View: We too believe that "anything is possible," with economic realities forcing manufacturers think hard about what consumers really want, what they're willing to pay for, and how they can best accommodate all interests â€“ including staying in business. We won't be surprised if other products by Muscle Dynamics and other companies follow this route.