Veteran Chris Clawson to take reins at Matrix as sales continue to soar

Preparing for continued and increased growth, Matrix Fitness has tapped a long-time industry leader to steer it along its route to the future. Chris Clawson will take over as president Feb. 19, at the same time Kent Stevens will move up to an executive vice president position.
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Preparing for continued and increased growth, Matrix Fitness has tapped a long-time industry leader to steer it along its route to the future. Chris Clawson will take over as president Feb. 19, at the same time Kent Stevens will move up to an executive vice president position.

Clawson takes over the role of Matrix chief from Nathan Pyles, who is the president of Johnson Health Tech North America, the entity that oversees all three Johnson brands (Matrix, Vision and Horizon). Pyles took on the additional role leading Matrix after founding president Ken Lucas left the company two years ago when it moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to the Madison, Wis., area to be housed near or with the other Johnson brands. Pyles will now return to his role guiding the research and development of all three brands globally.

Coming off more than two years at Stamina Fitness, which came after 11 years at Life Fitness, Clawson told SNEWS® he's excited to be a part of the growth of a company like Matrix as well as to become part of the Johnson family, where he already knew many of the executives and employees from other endeavors.

"Clearly, Matrix is poised to be in a very good position in the marketplace," Clawson said, pointing to Johnson's investments to fuel long-term growth and a lasting business.

"It's a long-term play," he explained. "They're not just doing what it takes to get by. They are doing what it takes to be successful."

Looking at that vision and the founding Lo family's continued, day-to-day involvement helped spur his desire to come aboard at Matrix, which reported a growth of 150 percent in sales in 2006 over 2005. In addition, the North American center, opened last fall in the Madison area, places the company's R&D squarely in its primary market of the United States.

"They're not just relying on the Asia group to understand the nuances of the U.S. market," he said. "That bodes well" for company growth and success.

Although recording large recent growth as a six-year-old company, Matrix still has the smallest sales and volume of the three brands. That leaves more room to grow, Clawson said, noting opportunities at vertical, membership and traditional not-for-profit commercial areas.

"There are just so many distinct channels in commercial distribution," he said. "If you're true to what you are, you can focus."

Pyles said in a statement that a veteran leader was needed to sustain the growth the company has experienced, and Clawson fit the role.

Clawson's "enthusiasm, knowledge and wealth of industry experience, which includes business and product development, marketing and sales, are exactly what Matrix needs in a leader at this time," Pyles said.

Reporting directly to Clawson, Stevens, who was Matrix's second employee in 2001, will focus on key national accounts.

"Together, Chris and Kent create a powerhouse of fitness industry knowledge and business acumen," Pyles said. "With them leading the way, the company is in a great position to advance to the next level."

For Clawson, achieving the "next level" would mean one thing -- customers naming Matrix as an industry leader -- a goal he said he hopes to achieve.

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