Onigman, Germano launch sales/marketing company for fitness industry

Two long-time fitness industry sales and marketing leaders have joined forces in a new organization aimed at helping companies find sales avenues and break into the fitness industry.

Two long-time fitness industry sales and marketing leaders have joined forces in a new organization aimed at helping companies find sales avenues and break into the fitness industry.

Marc Onigman and Ken Germano have announced the launch of Stone Hearth Fitness, which will specialize in linking fitness products and services to outlets such as pro shops, clubs and fitness retailers. Basically, Stone Hearth will act as a liaison to match a bank of known independent reps to companies with products that need to tap into sales channels. Stone Hearth will work with both fledgling companies as well as with established ones that are seeking to break in to fitness for the first time.

"It's hard to run a business, and it's easy to get distracted. Sometimes you miss opportunities," Onigman said. "We're the go-to guy for new equipment."

Stone Hearth's first clients are Bionic Glove, Koko Fitness and SuperSlow Zone, with others now pending, Onigman said.

Onigman is one of the founders of the Club Industry magazine and trade shows, and has also done sales and marketing with Keiser, Trotter, Xystos and My FoodPhone, as well as managed his own publishing company. Germano, most recently the CEO of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), has been a sales executive with Cybex and Lifecycle and was a co-founder of Reebok CCS.

With experience at trade shows, Onigman pointed out that the small, first-time, one-booth exhibitors have the lowest return rate. He noted a turnover in those side- and back-of-hall booths where the new companies end up as 30 percent or 40 percent.

"We'll help them not churn as much," he noted.

While at ACE, Germano also spearheaded "Operation FitKids," which brought fitness equipment and programming to needy schools. That passion will also be a part of Stone Hearth, which will work with the American College of Sports Medicine with a new program called ReFit, which is also aiming to create children's fitness facilities around the country that include programs, materials and mentoring in an environment that will encourage kids to consider careers in fitness.

In case you were wondering, the name Stone Hearth came from the name of the pizza place in Massachusetts where Germano and Onigman finalized their plans for the business.

"We liked the concept because of the imagery," Onigman said. "It's solid. It's warm. It's family…. The industry has gotten away from the core -- the mom-and-pop, hands-on feel."

Germano can be reached at ken@stonehearthfitness.com or 858-442-7935; Onigman can be reached at marc@stonehearthfitness.com or 617-413-2830. The website, www.stonehearthfitness.com, is under construction.

SNEWS® View: This is a business that should have some traction. The number of times that SNEWS® has seen small companies that want into fitness that actually have a viable product is high, yet often those companies simply fall off the radar and disappear without some lucky break or financial backing to help get them onto shelves. Germano and Onigman have the experience and passion to make this happen. It so happens that SNEWS® saw some preliminary footage showing Koko Fitness in early October 2006 before its official launch and found the concept intriguing. In fact, SNEWS® also reviewed the Bionic Gloves for fitness in August 2006. (Click here to read that.) Both should be able to make it, but with help from industry insiders, their chances are now much higher.


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