IRVINE, CA — It appears new Star Trac owner Michael Bruno wants to work with and understand a company before he buys it.
Bruno's Land America Health and Fitness Co., Xiamen, China, manufactured equipment for Nautilus Inc. before purchasing the StairMaster and Schwinn commercial assets of the Vancouver, WA-based company in January. Land America had also manufactured Star Trac strength equipment and spinning bikes for more than two years before Bruno acquired the Irvine, CA-based company last month.
“We're really happy about the fact that it's a strategic partner who is in the fitness business and understands our industry,” Randy Bergstedt, Star Trac's vice president of marketing, says about Bruno's purchase of Star Trac. “There's really no learning curve. We can start making moves and strategic decisions very quickly.”
Power Plate International CEO Gregg Hammann has an interesting perspective on Bruno. Hammann was the CEO of Nautilus in 2007 when he helped persuade the Nautilus board of directors to buy Land America for $63 million. That deal was terminated after Hammann left Nautilus, and Sherborne Investors took control of the Nautilus board.
“I still think that would have been a great idea,” Hammann says with a laugh. “It's the same principle that I think Michael is taking from a reverse angle [with the Star Trac purchase]. We were a branded company, basically, that used suppliers for the majority of our production when I was with Nautilus. The margin advantage by us acquiring Land America would have made a lot of sense for us.”
Hammann predicts that Bruno will make immediate improvements at Star Trac. With Bruno's investment in the company, Star Trac will be able to continue with its innovations while improving upon product quality, delivery times and attention to detail, Hammann says.
“Michael's highly intelligent,” he says. “He was always a guy that you could have very direct and frank conversations with. Michael doesn't pull punches with people. He's a man of high integrity. He does the right thing for the customer. The more he's involved in the fitness industry, the better it is for all of us.”
Any new details from Star Trac over the next few months likely will not come directly from Bruno, Hammann says.
“He's a not a public relations CEO,” Hammann says. “What you're going to see is him do the right thing for the business, the right thing for the industry, the right thing for customers.”