New Aerobics Inc. president to guide company into new categories

Looking to build on its success as a treadmill company, Aerobics Inc. has hired a new president, who is charged in part with leading the company into new cardio categories and overall growth.

Looking to build on its success as a treadmill company, Aerobics Inc. has hired a new president, who is charged in part with leading the company into new cardio categories and overall growth.

Gordon Boggis, who began in the newly created position just a few days before the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver in mid-August, comes from outside the fitness industry but has worked in the sporting goods arena for 10 years. He most recently was chief operation officer for Dunlop Slazenger, with its sports division's strength in tennis and golf.

Boggis said the challenge to build a smaller brand with "all of the building blocks" already there to be put in the right place is one he looks forward to.

"It's an exciting challenge to take the core competencies and leverage them into other categories and get some dynamic growth," Boggis told SNEWS®. Currently, Aerobics Inc. is known simply as the treadmill company that makes basically three Pacemaster treadmills plus a couple of variations on them.

His charge will be not only to help lead the 36-year-old family-run company based in New Jersey into other cardio categories, but also to make sure the equipment it releases under the Aerobics name can be something different. Any growth will capitalize on Aerobics reputation for top, durable, upper-mid-range products.

"Rather than us come out with a range of me-too products, I'd rather take more time to do this right and have our customers and the consumers take a real sharp breath" when they see the new range, said Boggis, who has been a long-time health club member and regular moderate exerciser.  

Although from outside the fitness industry, he said he feels he can combine his experience from working out at a club with his marketing experience in tennis and golf to be able to bring other views to Aerobics while still being able to empathize with the consumer.

"I'm looking to connect the experience in the fitness industry that Team Aerobics has," he said, stressing the importance of a "critical balance" in companies with those from inside and those from outside. "If you stay too focused on your industry, you lose an opportunity to innovate."

But, he added, if you completely replace insiders with those from outside an industry, they can get it all wrong.

Already, the company is planning to re-release its treadmills this fall with additional technology and upgrading. However, new categories and products are still being planned with no concrete release dates. Nevertheless, Boggis said he hopes for some introductions in 2005. In addition, he said the expansion should grow the company's topline sales.

"I'd be disappointed if we can't double the size of the company in three years," he said. "We need to have a stake in the sand."

One of the things that Boggis said struck him at the Denver show, his first fitness event, is the large range of companies -- "many, many companies making many, many types of cardio equipment." However, he said there is limited differentiation between them and almost no branding. He sees an opportunity to do some consumer branding, as now only the largest companies are attempting.

"If you can brand an odorless, colorless, tasteless liquid -- water -- there is no reason," he said, "different pieces of cardio equipment can't have better branding."

The Aerobics company he expects the industry will see in two or three years? "A leading brand in cardio equipment where serious performance is required," he said.

Jerry Staub will remain as CEO and chairman of the company his father, Bill, founded in 1968, while his brother Tom Staub will remain as senior vice president, primarily overseeing sales and marketing.

SNEWS® View: Aerobics' choices seemed to be either sell to a larger company (we'll bet it's had offers), stay a small treadmill-only company (and perhaps struggle a bit as the industry's companies become one-stop shops), or expand. Taking the third route isn't a surprise since the Staub family has always been one that liked to do what it felt was right, based on its heritage and quality products, sometimes nearly thumbing its nose at others, but always through it all turning out a well-respected go-to treadmill. No, maybe not the glitziest machine around, but a workhorse at a good price. Although this step to move into other categories could be a good one, we hope the company maintains its boutique and personal nature, which in and of itself can help brand and differentiate it and its products from others.    



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