York Barbell has hired Hampton founder and President Craig Landfair as its new president, with the aim to get back to its strength-training roots while also expanding into cardiovascular equipment in the United States. Â
Landfair, who began with York Feb. 15, said the opportunity was one that came up quickly although he had worked with York off and on for nearly a decade and knew York Worldwide Managing Director Peter Hallford.
"York has a chance to capture the future and to reconnect with the past," Landfair told SNEWSÂ®. "It has a chance to make some better moves and to re-establish its brand, plus it'll be adding a cardio line."
This brings full-circle a series of changes at the U.S.-based York Barbell that began nearly a year ago when York Worldwide, based in the United Kingdom and Canada, acquired the U.S. company, including all its shares and assets.
The acquisition brought together as one family the two independent companies that were founded separately a few years apart several decades ago with the same name. York Worldwide (www.yorkfitnessworldwide.com) had developed its strongest markets in Canada (its birthplace), the United Kingdom, Australia and Taiwan, while York Barbell, founded in York, Penn., (www.yorkbarbell.com) held trademarks on the name in the United States and China, as well as a few smaller countries.
"In looking forward, we knew we had to resolve that issue," said Hallford, who began working with his cousin, a company co-founder, in the Canadian offices in his teens.
The merging of the two companies will allow York Worldwide to proceed more easily with manufacturing in China, to establish its brand and future worldwide, as well as to gain product entree into additional markets. Plus, it can now bring to the United States its cardio equipment line that is already established in the United Kingdom and Australia.
"This is allowing us to get on with plans, particularly in the Far East," Hallford said. In addition, they have gained the ownership and related credibility of the U.S. Weightlifting Hall of Fame housed at York's headquarters in York, Penn.
The cardio line, which Landfair said they might show on a small scale at the Health & Fitness Business Show in Denver this August, will not develop overnight in the United States. York showed some cardio pieces at The Super Show in January -- not only to give U.S. dealers a sneak peek, but also to show its international customers attending the show. Â
"It'll be a slow process," Hallford said. "We've got a lot of groundwork to do at first."
Other changes in the last year also involved York Barbells' president, Bill Thierfelder, departing in July 2004 to become president of a small Catholic college in the East, as well as the departure in January 2005 of his successor Dennis Hyuck (see SNEWSÂ® story, June 28, 2004, "Thierfelder leaves York presidency, Huyck takes on role"). Hyuck will be working with the Andy Fitness product line that York brought to market under Thierfelder (see SNEWSÂ® story, Dec. 22, 2003, "York Barbell leveraging strong heritage in new brands").
For Landfair's part, leaving Hampton, the company he founded and held close, wasn't easy. In fact, he called it "emotional."
"I just had to sit myself down and have a talk with myself," he said. But the Hampton brand has a number of new products to show at IHRSA and he believes it will do fine. The move for him allows him to utilize his extensive sourcing information in China, as well as 17 years of purchasing experience. Plus, York is global with huge market penetration in its key countries and the chance for even more expansion.
For the next few months, Landfair will commute from his home in California to Pennsylvania. He can be reached at email@example.com.