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With Keys Fitness’ purchase last month for $6.6 million of Icon Health & Fitness’ Image Spa division (now the cornerstone of Keys’ backyard division), Keys joined the elite ranks of the $100 million revenue club. But the company doesn’t plan to stop there, SNEWSÂ® was told, and in fact quietly began its growth strategy in 2003 with the acquisition of the Ironman brand.
“We decided about a year-and-a-half ago to grow our business with broader business moves,” Dave Williams, Keys’ COO, told SNEWSÂ®. “Acquiring the Ironman brand was a key to that.”
The company acquired exclusive rights to license the Ironman brand name for fitness equipment in 2002 from World Triathlon Corp., owners of the Ironman events and name. The brand had languished as a fitness product brand when it was caught in the Nautilus/Hebb/Schwinn chain of acquisitions and retailers were not paying much attention to the name. It eventually reverted back to WTC and, then, to Keys, where the well-known Ironman name can now lend its strength to carry the company even further.
Following some internal discussions on proper use of the brand — the thought of a commercial-grade product was once discussed for the brand — the company decided to stick with its sporting goods roots. That turned out to be a good move; with some equipment improvements and marketing moves, the brand has now taken hold.
“Keys Fitness has taken all the components — branding, styling and value — and wrapped them around a good marketing program,” said Williams. “We also greatly improved styling and made it more contemporary, user-friendly and home-friendly; married these factors with a recognized brand, the value of which, we all know is invaluable in the consumer’s mind.”
While not disclosing numbers, Williams said that the Ironman line has grown “several thousand-fold” since Keys Fitness introduced its Ironman Fitness line in 2003. A slowdown is expected in 2005, but growth in the hundreds of percent points is still expected, he added.
“We have been wildly successful with the brand in the mass-market and sporting goods channels,” Williams said. “The product lineup has been very well-received by retailers and consumers.”
Growth is expected in the product lineup as well as in its distribution points just as Keys as a whole will grow. The company plans to take advantage of new channel openings from its backyard division to open doors for its fitness products. It also plans to take its backyard division — including future outdoor recreation, patio and wellness products — into its fitness retail partners.
“Ironman is a strong brand and we will continue growing the offerings from treads to bikes to elliptical units and accessories — we will be converting all accessories to the Ironman brand,” Williams said. “We will have the product line totally rounded out from the floor to the back wall.”