The annual NSGA Hall of Fame induction on May 6 will honor two from the fitness specialty industry, including one from the specialty retail side -- a first for the award.
The two -- Randy Renfrow, Fitness Resource; and Augie Nieto, Life Fitness and Octane Fitness -- are among four to receive the honor this year in the annual event held since 1956.
Although many of the retailers honored over the years sold or still sell fitness equipment, none has been directly from specialty, as Renfrow was. The first retailer (Jacob Oshman) was only inducted in 1985.
Among manufacturers honored, Cal and Fob James of the now-defunct Diversified Products were the first and only fitness-specific manufacturers to earn the honor, which they earned as a team in 1999. Nieto is the first from what could be called the modern era of equipment.
Renfrow died in August 2002 from a home accident while he was recovering from injuries he received from motorcycle racing earlier in March, David Nees, CEO of Fitness Resource, explained.
"Randy was well loved and respected in the industry," Nees said. "He was a natural engineer and could see and offer improvements to many vendors' equipment. He was generous with his knowledge and time and probably should share in some patents considering the improvements he offered to different manufacturers along the way. Randy was my best friend as well as a major asset to our company and I find I still miss him and think about him almost every week."
Renfrow's parents will accept the award in his name.
Nieto, who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in February 2005, has since devoted his time to promoting a search for a cure and founded a non-profit to do that, Augie's Quest, a division of the MDA. He will accept his award personally at the event in Phoenix in May, he told SNEWS®.
"I am so honored that they have chosen me as one of the recipients," he emailed SNEWS® about the honor.
"We should all be able to go from whatever success we achieve to some level of significance in our lives," Nees said of Nieto. "Being significant to others is what helps all of humanity."
Greg Ruffer, former director of retail sales at the former LA Gym Equipment and now with Pronto Installation, said he looked around the room at the March event to raise money for Augie's Quest, and he realized "Augie is arguably the reason the fitness industry even exists. We should all be grateful."
The other inductees at the 44th annual event, to be officiated by Hall of Fame committee chairman Randy Ruch, CEO of Schuylkill Valley Sports, are: Ron Kruse, Hayden's Athletic; and the late Kihachiro Onitsuka, founder of Asics Corp.
"This year's inductees are special because of their many varied and noteworthy accomplishments in the sporting goods industry," Ruch said in a statement. "Election to the Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can receive in the sporting goods industry, and these inductees meet the high standards to which all Hall of Famers are held."