PaceMaster readies itself to be more than a small treadmill company

PaceMaster wants to be known for more than just treadmills. And although the company doesn't promise new categories by August at the Health & Fitness Business show -- a year after a new president was hired from outside the industry to help guide the family-run business' future -- it will at least show a completely revamped line that hints at what's to come.
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PaceMaster wants to be known for more than just treadmills. And although the company doesn't promise new categories by August at the Health & Fitness Business show -- a year after a new president was hired from outside the industry to help guide the family-run business' future -- it will at least show a completely revamped line that hints at what's to come.

The line of four treadmills has new electronics, programs, designs and names. In addition, the company also showed it first light commercial treadmill at the Club Industry East event in New York (see SNEWS® story, June 13, 2005, "Club Industry East sells out three bustling show floors").

That was what President Gordon Boggis called "putting our toe in the water to see what this commercial channel is about." The Platinum Pro Club will list for approximately $2,600, and added increased durability in frame and deck, for example.

You read right. Not just LIGHT commercial, though; Boggis said "commercial." Aside from new categories, the company also has plans to move toward full commercial equipment.

"We can see the clear opportunities for the next two to three years," Boggis told SNEWS®. "We're not going to bite all of this off in one fell swoop, though.

"We're prepared to be patient because we want to do something meaningful and significant," he added.

So although not promising new equipment by August, Boggis was a bit coy about what the company would exactly have, although he had promised new categories nearly a year ago with a hope for 2005 release. (See SNEWS® story, Sept. 10, 2004, "New Aerobics Inc. president to guide company into new categories.")

"We're excited about what we have lined up," he said, noting that PaceMaster's goal is to be a leading brand in cardiovascular fitness, not just in treadmills. "There are many segments in cardiovascular fitness….

"Ellipticals are clearly a very attractive segment at the moment," he said. "It clearly has lots of opportunities. But there is no way a leading brand like us can overlook that category, but we would not want to put an off-the-shelf elliptical into the market."

Nevertheless, Boggis said the 37-year-old company founded by Bill Staub would not forget its treadmill roots.

"We want to recognize it needs to be the core of our business," Boggis said. "We want to be sure to keep our treadmill line fresh."

The four now in the line -- Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze -- range from $2,300 down to $1,700. The Platinum and Gold models have larger frames and contact heart rate, while the Bronze remains the model for consumers who don't want fancy electronics and programs. In addition, the Platinum model has a new look at programs with its so-called "E-Course," which lets a user run or walk a course based on distance rather than time. That means if you would slow down on an uphill, as one does in real life, you would slow down on the treadmill.

One other thing Boggis promised when he took over a year ago was an increase in top-line sales. That, they say, has happened with a first quarter of 2005 that was "the most successful" in company history.

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PaceMaster, with its manufacturing facility also in New Jersey where it is headquartered, could pull off a line expansion, but we suspect the market took a tad more investigation than expected a year ago. There are a slew of companies out there all offering that "off-the-shelf" bike or elliptical. They're a dime a dozen, really. And the battle for any supplier is figuring the fine line between inexpensive quick-to-market, off-the-shelf pieces and those that have more to offer by adding something truly different and attractive. And can earn more than a bottom barrel price. Although Boggis was coy, we do expect something from the Staub family business by fall, but it may not show in August at the show in Denver. That would be an even more coy way around making sure the company stays below the radar as long as possible by not dancing something new out in front of everybody else. Along the way, we do hope that PaceMaster doesn't water itself down too much by trying to be everything to everybody, from bikes to treads, from commercial to retail, and in the process become nothing to anybody. However, it would be hard to imagine a family-run business that is still in the family would let that happen.

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