Feeling the headwinds of the down economy weakening, Spirit Fitness will unveil a fresh look for the 23-year-old company in the next few weeks, with new products launching at the Health & Fitness Business Expo in September.
“We’re rebranding Spirit,” President Chris Cox told SNEWS®. “The company has a tremendous amount of history, and I believe Spirit has a lot of growth opportunities.”
The rebranding maneuver -- the first in many years -- will look to modernize its brand and product aesthetics while keeping the company’s history, Cox said.
Even with the rebranding, the company’s focus will remain with specialty fitness, he explained, despite some of that segment’s recent economic woes.
“We, manufacturers and dealers, went through an era where we were, you could say, fat and happy. We could do anything and make anything and we could sell it,” he said. That, however, changed for a few years as the economy suffered. Although the fitness business has shrunk, Cox said, he sees new retailers coming into the market with passion and optimism.
“Our focus is on the specialty business,” he said, “and to grow that. It’s not going to be where it was, but it’s still a very viable market.”
The reorganization effort includes administrative shuffling in Jonesboro, Ark., where the company is headquartered; a new logo (bottom - right) to replace the old one (top - right); new website; new business plans to move it ahead; and new products to launch at the Sept. 22-23 show in Las Vegas, where it will exhibit. Dan Finn, formerly of Vision Fitness, has been onboard as the product manager since spring 2010 and his touch will be in the new products coming, Cox said. But that doesn’t mean they will all change.
“You don’t want to change the things everybody likes,” Cox said.
Spirit (www.spiritfitness.com) was owned and run by the Hurt family -- Rodger and Shirley and their children, Jay and Grace -- until Dyaco of Taiwan bought a controlling interest in January 2004. (Click here to see a Jan 15, 2004, SNEWS story, “Taiwan-based Dyaco buys controlling interest in Spirit.) Rodger and Shirley Hurt had already semi-retired in 2003, although Jay and Grace continued to run the company with a new president. Just over a year later in April 2005, Dyaco bought out the remaining family interest. (Click here to see an April 7, 2005, SNEWS story.)
Spirit continued with its product push, with Dyaco’s influence introducing new segments beyond its legacy of treadmills. At the 2009 Health & Fitness Business show (click here to see that Aug. 17, 2009, SNEWS story on the show’s cardio product, the company introduced a new piece it called a “new generation of ellipticals” called the E-Glide. With that piece, the traditional front-drive elliptical system was replaced with a flywheel much like on an indoor studio cycle’s. That piece remains in the line (MSRP $2,699).
A selection of new retail products will be the next step at the coming HFB show for specialty retailers.
“We are passionate about giving quality product and quality service to the specialty industry,” he said. “We do have longevity and we are going to be here a long time.”