Star Trac owner Michael Bruno celebrated a birthday and a new house on Saturday. He didn't expect to usher in a new president of Star Trac, too.
But a few days before he turned 63, that's exactly what Bruno did. Mike Leveque, who had been Star Trac's president for all of about 10 months, resigned. The move was a surprise to Bruno, but he had a replacement at the ready: StairMaster CEO Dustin Grosz, whom Bruno had long admired back from when Grosz worked at Nautilus. Long story short, Bruno owns Star Trac and StairMaster, which he bought from Nautilus along with its Schwinn assets.
Until last week, the only time I had communicated with Bruno was by e-mail through Star Trac's PR contact. After Leveque's resignation announcement, I had the good fortune to reach Bruno by phone while he was looking over last-minute details before his housewarming.
Bruno has been back in the United States for about two years after spending 22 years in China. He built an 800,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Xiamen (pronounced "Shaw-men"), met his wife there and raised their three children, now all teenagers.
Four years ago, while Bruno was still building his business in China, he began building his new house in the United States. About two years later, Bruno and his family made the move to the United States.
Where to, you may ask? New York? Los Angeles? Miami?
Nope. Try Youngstown, OH, Bruno's hometown.
Specifically, the Bruno family resides in Canfield, OH, just outside of Youngstown, where Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel cut his coaching chops and where boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini learned to become a champion.
Before Bruno took over Star Trac last July, the Irvine, CA-based company already was going through a lot of transition. That transition is still in a state of transition. Bruno, who pulls no punches, plans to keep fighting.
"There's going to be a lot of changes, not a few changes," Bruno says. "There's going to be new people put in key positions ... that show our attitude of service first and no questions asked."
Bruno is excited to show off some new products next week at the IHRSA show in San Francisco and hopes Star Trac can win back any respect it may have lost.
"What Star Trac of the past did is not my fault. I didn't do it," Bruno says. "But it is my responsibility to make it right, and I will make it right for these guys that have been hurt. We're going to continue punching. I believe in several months the industry is going to be very happy that Star Trac is back and they gave us another chance."