PaceMaster manufacturing, sales, service to move to Northern Lights facility in Canada

High costs have forced PaceMaster to be moved by investor Edwin Cameron to his Northern Lights equipment manufacturing facility in Canada. SNEWS talks to Cameron for insights.
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Sixteen months after declaring its exit from bankruptcy with Canada’s Fitness Depot founder, Edwin Cameron, onboard as a newfound investor, PaceMaster has announced it will move to Canada, effective immediately.

“The fixed costs in New Jersey were much too high for the volume,” Cameron told SNEWS from Canada. “That’s the beginning and the end of it.”

PaceMaster operations, including manufacturing, sales, shipping and service, will relocate to the home of Cameron’s strength-training brand, Northern Lights, in Cornwall, Ontario.

“It’s the most logical decision,” Cameron said, confirming the news that was sent in an email to the industry Nov. 22.

With the pre-high-season move, however, Cameron also confirmed the 2012 line would be delayed. But Cameron said “the intent in the moment at least” is to keep the line as it stands with the brand name.

“We’re not anticipating any change in the line we had” (at the Health & Fitness Business Show in September), Cameron noted.

The email from West Caldwell, N.J.-based PaceMaster (www.pacemaster.com), addressed to “our loyal PaceMaster retailers,” also said:

“PaceMaster has made this relocation decision in order to best position the company to compete in an extremely depressed specialty fitness marketplace.

We ask for your continued support and patience while we accomplish this relocation which we feel will place PaceMaster on a firm footing to continue to manufacture award-winning treadmills for distribution through the specialty fitness retailer network. Upon the completion of the relocation we will begin production of the new 2012 model line as quickly as possible.”

The email said that the company would continue to support all warranties on previously sold product.

President Tom Staub did not return several calls and emails requesting comment; however, Cameron said that Staub would continue with the company although he was not expected to leave his home in New Jersey.

“As far as I’m concerned, Tom will do the same things he was doing all along,” Cameron said. Sales representatives Albert Abrego and Chris Iannotta left the company about four weeks ago.

Another step

This is another step in the history of the 43-year-old company originally known only as Aerobics that had always noted proudly it was “Made in the U.S.A.” In July 2010, PaceMaster finished juggling two months of financial advisors in its bankruptcy liquidation filing to emerge with Cameron as a new majority investor with the original Staub family (Tom and Jerry, sons of the founder) still onboard. (Click here to read the July 14, 2010, story, “PaceMaster bankruptcy delivers company back to founders, sheds its debt.”)

At that time, Tom Staub told SNEWS the company had been forced into the bankruptcy as a way to shed the bank credit facility and replace it with private equity funding. He also noted the “quadruple whammy” that pushed the company to the edge: the economic downturn, a lack of working capital, the bank seeking to retrieve its funding, and the 2008 Busy Body bankruptcy that cost it $1.3 million.

“In today’s economic climate, working with a bank is a challenging situation at best,” Staub told SNEWS in a May 14, 2010, story. “We decided it’s in the best interest of Aerobics to replace the bank credit facility with private equity funding.”

The relationship with the specialty retail channel should not change, Cameron said, addressing rumors the company would begin working only with larger retailers.

“Everybody knows the dealer market channel is shrinking,” Cameron said, “and if you want to stay in the channel, you have to do more for less."

After more than four decades in the U.S. fitness industry, the brand has been called “iconic," as some see the departure from its U.S. facility as the end of an era.

“The Staubs and all of the people that have worked with them to make that company one of the best and most enduring U.S. manufacturers certainly deserve the support of our industry during the transition,” said Colorado Home Fitness owner Chip Hunnings.

“There is a lot of history and success of people and retail businesses in our industry that can be attributed in large amounts to the generosity and support of Jerry and Tom Staub," Hunnings added, "as well as the rest of their family and employees.”

PaceMaster was a featured company in a special SNEWS magazine in 2009 celebrating 25 years of fitness. Click here to read about that and find interviews and classic photos, including the one, above, from PaceMaster.

--Therese Iknoian

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