Taking the next step toward completing its product line by adding more technology to its equipment and offerings, Star Trac has told SNEWS® that it will take on an aggressive role as one of two MYE Entertainment distributors in North America, which comes on the heels of a newly minted distribution agreement with the Koko Fitness computerized strength trainer.
The arrangement with MYE means Star Trac as of Sept. 4 has hired three people in-house as sales and business development to sell and develop the entertainment system in all markets. In late March, Star Trac had announced a partnership with MYE. (Click here to read a March 30, 2007, SNEWS® story, "Star Trac partners with MYE Entertainment for distribution, product development.")
This arrangement means increased involvement with direct access to MYE products for Star Trac products as well as MYE working on product development for Star Trac specifically. The other distributor is True Fitness, which began a relationship with MYE in 2006 and will continue as a competitive distributor with a different name. MYE Entertainment LLC, led by President Tony Garcia, will still be the creative force behind the products as well as the entity that owns the name and brand. Star Trac's new in-house sales force includes Andrea Garvey and Kathy Mitchell-Guthrie, formerly in sales with the True Fitness distributor; and Lee Guthrie, former vice president of business development with MYE LLC, who will take on a higher role in business development under the Star Trac flag.
"This allows us to be more aggressive with future product opportunities," said Randy Bergstedt, Star Trac vice president of global marketing.
A couple of weeks earlier, Star Trac had signed a distribution agreement with Koko Fitness, a computerized, automated multi-gym, which it had shown to select retailers at the Health & Fitness Business show. SNEWS® had dubbed Koko the first "quick start" for strength training because of the way the friendly system helps set up, coaches users through and then remember their workouts. Although soft launched selectively in 2006, Koko was officially launched at the IHRSA show in March 2007. (Click here to read a May 14, 2007, SNEWS® feature about the company, "Koko Smartrainer: Possibly the first 'quick start' of strength training.")
"We think they have a fantastic user interface," Bergstedt said, noting that Koko's one piece (MSRP $10,000) sold well in a mid-summer retail test at Gym Source.
"We went to the show to test the waters with other retailers," Bergstedt said about the company's appearance there. "There are definitely people for a product like that on the market."
Bergstedt called the deal with MYE "a big commitment," but declined to reveal details about where the MYE and Koko deals would take the company in the areas of technology and entertainment.
"We have big plans," he said.
SNEWS® View: Although each arrangement on its own may not be huge news, taken together with a rearview-mirror look at what Star Trac has done in the last few years, it is clear that these moves signify the intent for a higher involvement with technology. Considering the timeline needed in product development, we will lay money that the industry may get a peek at Star Trac's first few products involving technology at the 2008 IHRSA show, but the real expanded launch will come later in the year. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of combination using both MYE and Koko technology and even using that combination in an exercise-oriented product that could go beyond what the industry has so far deemed an exercise product -- either in combination with décor, home, everyday living, or one that combines several exercise categories in one. The possibilities seem endless and, considering the need of the world today for inviting and entertaining exercise products, Star Trac may be on the cutting edge.