For a company that's been around some seven years, SportsArt America is looking pretty fresh and new these days.
Unveiled at the August Health & Fitness Business show was a new logo, advertising, marketing statements, as well as expanded product redesigns, with more coming this week at the Woodinville, Wash.-based, company's biggest splash ever at the 2002 Club Industry in Chicago.
No longer is it hunkered down in just a small trade show space with not much verve and a lot of really chunky looking black machines -- good quality, mind you, but just not something that made you stop in your tracks. Here now is a company that, according to President Terry Brown, has added color splashes to energetic marketing, ergonomic designs to eye-catching equipment -- and seen about 40 percent growth this year over last year with about half of the company's sales now in commercial.
"We really have got ourselves into a place where we're a player," said Brown, who worked at Precor prior to Asia-based SportsArt's American segment. "And now what we need to do is continue to pay attention and push the envelope."
This sudden arrival took all of the company's seven years, during which time Brown and his staff have been slowly revamping the line for the North American market. Step by step, not in a huge hurry, because, as he says, "if you grow yourself to fast, you make a mess of yourself."
The sleek designs are not far-fetched, nothing a club looking to match other equipment or a conservative home user who may not care for a purple bike in the living room will avoid. But it has just enough design pop and sleekness to make someone stop and look.
But the design isn't where SportsArt has stopped. Its equipment also has some soft-pedaled features that perhaps should be talked up a bit more:
- On the newly redesigned treadmills, the front bar is placed so a user can hold onto it and, with one finger, easily and comfortably (and safely) reach and change the speed and incline adjustments while moving.
- Several of the ellipticals allow a user to adjust the stride length from 17 to 26 inches to suit his or her body type.
- SportsArt trademarked CardioAdvisor -- now only on commercial equipment -- allows you to input your age and it automatically calculates 65, 72 and 80 percent heart rates with the target staying on the screen for constant monitoring.
Then, there are the new logos and marketing campaigns unveiled in August. Thanks to the company's marketing guru Scott Logan, the company dropped its previous materials -- heck, they left such an impression we can't remember what they were! -- and came up with some gray and orange designs and the slogan "rethink, reshape, redefine." The logo shows a line radiating out from a center point (the "status quo") and circling around until it emerges with an arrow and the words "way to go."
"We don't want to be a me-too," Logan said.
A few favorite products from Brown --
- 6310 Treadmill (commercial) -- For the introduction at this week's 2002 Club Industry show, the company is pulling out all stops with ads in trade pubs, extra lobby promo and mailers to Midwestern clubs. The treadmill not only has the new designs but a four-way reversible deck, a 20-inch by 58-inch deck, a 3.2 HP motor (the max possible from an 120 volt/20 amp breaker, Logan points out), 0 to 15 percent incline, a 0.1 to 12 mph speed range, and the company's trademarked Flowtec integrated cooling and cleaning system. (Suffice it to say, it collects the crud and keeps the treadmill running better, longer, according to the company.)
- 8300 elliptical -- So far at least, this treadmill is the only one that offers an adjustable stride -- and the company wasted no time patenting the feature. Controls are built into handle grips for easy access.
- 5150 recumbent bike -- A dot-matrix display, LED windows, manual and contact HR, built-in programs, a rather unique seatback adjustment and even an infrared remote control. "I'd put it up against any bike in this industry," Brown said.
- 3108 treadmill -- A speedy 11-mph top speed makes this a tread for real runners. It also has a welded steel frame, pre-set programs, and the ability to customize and save your own programs. Incline adjusts from 0 to 15 percent, with a 2.5 HP motor. MSRP: $2,299. This was the treadmill featured on the first Runners World magazine cruise.
- 805 elliptical -- This is one with an adjustable stride length although not via the hand grip. It also has complete electronic feedback, dual action with the arms, preset programs and heart-rate control. MSRP: $2,199.
To the observer, it may look as if SportsArt America has arrived on the scene. Not so, says Brown: "It's an endless journey. You never really get there."