Smooth Fitness gets new board, investors to grow to next level

Eight years after creating the Smooth fitness brand, CEO and founder Joe Alter has not only upped his stake, but brought additional shareholders aboard both as investors and board members to help grow the company.
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Eight years after creating the Smooth fitness brand, CEO and founder Joe Alter has not only upped his stake, but brought additional shareholders aboard both as investors and board members to help grow the company.

"You'll see a lot of activity here," Alter told SNEWS®. "We're opening up Smooth in Europe Oct. 1, and we're going to do a lot of deals here."

Alter began the company as the Fitness Superstore, where he launched the Smooth brand before going to the Internet with it, adding the Evo brand, and then moving into commercial equipment and other avenues. He sold the two Superstore outlets to Leisure Fitness a year ago to focus on the Smooth business. (Click here to read the July 7, 2006, SNEWS® story, "Leisure Fitness acquires Fitness Superstore.")

Alter is now the majority shareholder, he said, but has added a who's-who list to a board, to also integrate what he called "mindshare" to take the brand to another level. The company, he said, has gone from 25 to 45 employees in the last two months alone.

The board now includes Tom Connerty, chief marketing officer for Nutrisystem; Bruce Luehrs, managing director of the Penn Valley group, which sponsored and advised the leveraged buyout of Smooth; Andrew Panzo, a shipping and logistics expert; Pat Croce, sports commentator, businessman and the one who helped resurrect the Philadephia 76ers; Brian Tierney, new owner and CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer; and Allen Ting, representing the company's supplier, Greenmaster. 

Regarding Greenmaster, which previously was simply a supplier, Alter said, "It was a good opportunity for them to strengthen the relationship further." 

Another new investor is one of the original DoubleClick founders, Chris Saradakis, who will help build the technology side of Smooth, Alter said.

The Smooth brand will also go into the home gym category in 2007, Alter said, as well as expand its newly launched Momentum brand for the commercial area. 

SNEWS® View: These are some really big names with really broad business backgrounds. Not they typical fitness insiders but rather a group of people who can seemingly think very big and could help Alter take the business a huge step forward.

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