Spirit goes overseas for new treads

Spirit Fitness – a company that has always proudly touted the Made-in-the-USA banner on its equipment line – has introduced four treadmills that are made in Taiwan. Shown at the Health & Fitness Business Expo & Conference in Denver for the first time, the treadmills allow the company to add significantly lower price points to its line – down to $895 when its lowest previously was $1,495.
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Spirit Fitness – a company that has always proudly touted the Made-in-the-USA banner on its equipment line – has introduced four treadmills that are made in Taiwan.

Shown at the Health & Fitness Business Expo & Conference in Denver for the first time, the treadmills allow the company to add significantly lower price points to its line – down to $895 when its lowest previously was $1,495.

"We are still specialty fitness," President Rodger Hurt told SNEWS. "But we're now able to fill more price points, and our customers don't have to go elsewhere.

"It also gets us into more doors," he added.

The deal between manufacturer Dyaco International of Taya, Taichung, in Taiwan (www.dyaco.com) and Spirit of Jonesboro, Ark., was only forged in April; four months later, Spirit stood at the Denver show with four new treadmills.

"It's going to be a good partnership," Hurt said.

Dyaco was established in Taiwan in 1989 as a manufacturer and importer of home fitness equipment, a company backgrounder states; it began making motorized treadmills in 1998. With experience already in manufacturing retail and TV infomercial product, Dyaco management had decided that it needed to work with more U.S. manufacturers and attain more of a presence in North America. Spirit, on the other hand, said it wasn't really looking to add additional treadmills or to necessarily hit lower prices. But a mutual acquaintance brought the two companies together.

The new folding treadmills start at a suggested retail of $895 for a 2.0 HP motor with an 18-inch belt, move up by $100 for a model that motorizes the folding mechanism, then add two more models -- $1,395 and $1,595 – for larger motors of 2.25 and 3.0 respectively with 20-inch belts. Both have manual folding mechanisms, with the top-of-the-line model adding heart-rate control.

Does this mean the company is going to add more categories beyond its treadmill specialty and one elliptical?

"This is a start," Hurt said. "We'll see."

SNEWS View: It's difficult for any supplier these days – even one like Spirit that has always waved the red-white-and-blue -- to ignore the influence and importance of hitting price points that are ever lower. Yes, high-price models are selling to more-demanding home exercisers, but everybody wants a great deal. Especially for entry-level exercisers, equipment at about $1,000 or less can help make a sale. And, these days, it's nearly impossible to make this kind of equipment without heading overseas. We're sure it was a bit of a struggle for Spirit to reconcile the USA-vs.-Asia conflict, but in the end business won out.

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