Simonson joins Cybex in exclusive multi-year product development deal

Lauded industrywide as an equipment inventor that knows how to think outside the box, Roy Simonson will join forces with Cybex in an exclusive multi-year deal for product development, design and marketing.

Lauded industrywide as an equipment inventor that knows how to think outside the box, Roy Simonson will join forces with Cybex in an exclusive multi-year deal for product development, design and marketing.

The agreement was announced nearly two years to the day that a two-year non-compete with FreeMotion Fitness expired and nearly two decades after Simonson and his brother founded a company called Eagle Performance Systems that was eventually bought by Cybex.

"It's like going home again," Simonson told SNEWS® of the return to the Cybex brand where he stayed after the acquisition and until Trotter bought Cybex. "It's going full circle. There are Cybex employees I've known for 25 years."

Simonson, always a garage tinkerer type, launched then-Ground Zero, which became FreeMotion Fitness, at the IHRSA trade show in 2000, with it kicking off the functional trainer trend. He stayed on there as CEO until March 2005, but noted to SNEWS® in an interview in July 2005 that "I'm the right guy to start companies and the wrong guy to run them."

At that time, he said he was already starting to tinker with new ideas and promised to be back in March 2007 when the non-compete expired. The agreement with Cybex (Nasdaq: CYBI) is actually with eNova Group Limited, of which Simonson and Stephen M. Williams are principals. Simonson is the inventor, while Williams is the marketing, branding and technology development experience.

The wording "multi-year period" indicates, Simonson said, both companies intend to work together a very long, with the first contractual term officially for three years, according to Cybex COO Art Hicks. Cybex anticipates that upfront costs under this arrangement will result in first-quarter 2007 pre-tax expenses of around $500,000.

"We're hopeful it will turn into a forever deal," Simonson noted, adding that he had been courted by a lots of other companies. "Cybex was the best fit -- the direction they were going in and the direction I was going in. It coincided."

Added Hicks, "We both expect to continue for many years after that."

As a part of the arrangement, Cybex has acquired rights to the concepts for a new line of strength products, which is expected to debut in mid-2008. Simonson added that the products he will work on are "primarily strength," but could also include some cardio.

"Our whole strategy is to grow by product innovation and surrounding ourselves with the best designers is part of that strategy," said Hicks. "Roy and Steve will help us continue our growth pattern."

Kicking off the arrangement, both Simonson and Williams will be in the Cybex booth at the coming IHRSA trade show in San Francisco, March 29-31, to reacquaint themselves with the industry and talk to attendees.

SNEWS® View: Knowing that Simonson was a property that many companies wanted, Cybex managed quite a coup in landing Simonson and his partner Williams. Over 28 years in the fitness industry, Simonson has managed to launch product lines and companies that invariably helped shape the direction of certain categories each time. We have no doubt that will happen again as the first products come out next year.


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