Pearl Izumi strengthening run staff, creates new unit

When cycling giant Shimano purchased Pearl Izumi in 2008, many wondered whether Pearl’s running division would take the back seat on the tandem. Three years later, the company is making an organizational statement that it views running on an equal foot to biking. SNEWS visited the company for a closer look.
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When cycling giant Shimano purchased Pearl Izumi in 2008 from Nautilus, many wondered whether Pearl’s running division would take the back seat on the tandem.

For a while, it looked that way. The new parent company soon had the Pearl sales force selling Shimano biking products along with Pearl’s biking apparel. That meant less time for running.

But three years later, the company is making an organizational statement that it views running on an equal footing. Pearl is debuting a separate "Run" business unit to make sure it keeps focus on the sector.

Pearl Izumi's Run (www.runlikeananimal.com) will build on the company’s recently created sales organization focused exclusively on the run specialty channel and the hiring of running expert Scott Tucker to lead the overall business unit. Chuck Sanson, Pearl Izumi’s national sales manager, will continue to lead the sales team in the U.S. market. Pearl was acquired in 2005 by Nautilus but put back on the market in 2007 when that fitness-focused equipment manufacturer was starting to divest business units to right itself financially.

For Tucker (pictured right), as Pearl's new director of Run, it's a familiar role helping a company best known for cycling to garner a better foothold in the running world.

The 48-year-old arrived at Pearl Izumi’s headquarters in Louisville, Colo., in late March after a two-year stint with Scott Sports’ U.S. division in Sun Valley, Idaho, another cycling company that had begun the march into running.

Prior to that, Tucker helped grow Montrail as a designer, eventually becoming president and general manager before leaving the company a year after it was acquired by Columbia.

Tucker told SNEWS® he favored the new job at Pearl over Scott because he believes the company has a stronger position in the marketplace, along with the advantage of being globally headquartered in the United States. The Scott business is Swiss-based. Tucker added that he views Colorado as a great training ground for his passions of Ironman and ultra-distance trail races.

The dedicated athletic runner said he has an intuitive understanding of Run’s target consumer with experience in all levels of the industry from his past posts.

“I’m one of those demanding consumers,” he said.

The goal is to position Pearl Izumi's Run as a performance technology leader that is current and setting the trends in the performance road, trail and triathlon categories, Tucker said.

“When I say ‘performance technology,’ I mean innovation. The run market is in a unique position, where it has come out of a period of stasis with everyone just copying Asics and Nike. Now we have the Newtons (Running) of the world with different ideas gaining traction. We can seize on that.”

Tucker will compete in a growing running market, which includes his former employers Montrail and Scott.

At Scott, the company is interviewing for a new director of running to replace Tucker, and that company remains committed to running, marketing manager Adam Greene said.

“It’s definitely a category that is growing for us,” Greene said. “We’re looking for a sales-oriented person with background in performance and trail running footwear, and experience in working with independent running and outdoor retailers.”

--David Clucas

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