In an all-company meeting at Star Trac's Southern California offices on June 7, James McPartland bid his adieu to Star Trac and his president's position after 15 years and Steven Nero, after 11 months at the company, was officially introduced for the first time as its new president.
For many in the industry, it's difficult to imagine Star Trac sans "Mac," as he is widely known, especially as he has developed into a passionate public speaker -- nearly an ambassador not only for Star Trac, but also for the entire fitness industry -- who preaches the benefits of fitness and its power to transform your life.
"Mac was the face of the company for a long time," Nero, who began at Star Trac as vice president of engineering then became chief operating officer, told SNEWSÂ®. "I have some big shoes to fill."
Said Chairman and CEO Jim Doody, who became a part of Unisen, the precursor to Star Trac, a year after it was formed, "With respect to visibility, I don't think anyone can replace Mac. He has a unique capability to communicate with large audiences. The ambassadorial and visibility functions will have to migrate down to a broader and lower level within the company as a result."
First hired as n--ational sales manager in 1988, Mac worked with then-Unisen to bring to market the first DC-powered commercial treadmill built exclusively for usage in fitness facilities, the Star Trac 2000, introduced in 1987. That piece was the foundation of Star Trac as it broadened its treadmill line. In the last few years, it entered other categories as well to become, as Doody put it, more than just "a treadmill company."
Also a board member and shareholder who will continue to consult with Star Trac over the next six months, Mac himself said "Star Trac's in my DNA."
But he won't by all means head out to a quiet retirement. Instead, he will head off to his next venture -- founding a global chain of small non-exclusive, accessible, quick-workout clubs that could become similar to a co-ed version of Curves, as he describes it.
"Mac has a personal mission to cause change in the lifestyles of those people who are not members of health clubs and who probably never will become members given the present structure of the industry," Doody said. "He is bothered that the percentage of the population who are active participants has not been increasing much over the years. As long as I have known him, Mac has been determined to influence positive change."
He told SNEWSÂ® he'll be establishing a prototype facility in Orange County in Southern California, he hopes by the end of this year.
"My ambition is to touch more people and to change more lives," Mac said, who voiced a concern about the club business that seems to fight over the same small piece of the population. "The decision to step-down from Star Trac is a step-down to step-upâ€¦. I've reached inside myself and talked to people I trust and respect, and I thought, 'Maybe I can do this.'
"Life is short. I need to test my entrepreneurial gifts now so I don't regret it," said Mac, who two months ago completed his sixth Ironman-distance triathlon.
Nero said the timing couldn't be better, not only with himself having settled into the company and the industry, but also with the recent fast growth of the company taking a breath before it grows again.
"We shall miss Mac," Doody said. "But I expect Mac in his new role will significantly modify the lifestyles of many people. And that will be good for our industry."
Mac can be reached at his Star Trac email for the next few months -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- or at his direct office number there, 714-508-3377.
SNEWSÂ® View: Mac definitely has been the face on Star Trac and his passion to touch many more lives could be the springboard to success -- and the sort of clubs he describes perhaps are one way that more people can become active and therefore more fit. We hope the industry supports him, and we know we'll be hearing from him again in short order.