Here at Precor, we were proud to win the top honor in the manufacturing category of Seattle Business Magazine’s Washington Green 50 Awards last week. This recent recognition of our sustainability and recycling practices presents the perfect opportunity to introduce this video highlighting our company culture here on the blog.
In the video, former Precor President Paul Byrne talks about what makes Precor unique — from its people to the culture of innovation that has led to products like the EFX® and Adaptive Motion Trainer®. Watch or read through the transcript below.
Passion is the seed of everything. It’s what’s important to be successful in life individually and it’s what important for a company. It reminds me of my first day at Precor when I joined back in 1985. And even then, Precor — even though small — was very successful. We had one product, basically — a rowing machine. But it was the best selling home fitness product in the nation. And we thought we were pretty smart. We thought we were pretty good. Until sales dropped 50 percent in one year, and we knew it was time to grow up as an organization. It was time to think about what do we want to be over the next 30 years. And what we decided was we wanted to be the most recognized and respected company in this industry.
We didn’t say we wanted to be the biggest — the most recognized and respected. And what does that mean? It means you need to develop products that really make a difference. I mean [products that] really have meaning. That really can change people’s lives. And that’s a pretty high standard. That’s a very, very difficult thing to do. But we did it. I think right now we are the most respected and recognized. And what was that transition like? What did we do? Well, we developed the first low-impact treadmill. We introduced the world to the elliptical trainer. We introduced the world to the Adaptive Motion Trainer®. And we introduced the world to networked fitness.
So how do you stay on top? We’re on top, but how do you stay on top? Well through great people, of course. That’s where the great ideas come from. That’s where great execution comes from.
It’s always been an exciting time to be at Precor, but I think now especially that this is the most exciting time. Because with Preva® and with networked fitness — for the first time, we can really connect directly with our customers and directly with exercisers. It enables us to motivate people to the level that they’re going to achieve their goals. So many people who start an exercise program drop out because they don’t achieve their goals. Sometimes it’s lack of entertainment and distraction. Sometimes, and often, it’s because they don’t know what to do. They really need to be told what to do. So what does Preva enable us to do? It enables us to guide them. Tell them what to do and help them achieve their goals. We’re the first company in this space.
We’re leading this. Right now, 30 percent of what we sell is networked fitness. So it shows it’s resonating with our customers and it’s resonating with the end users. When we do new products it isn’t just because it’s new and it’s different, but usually there’s a key insight to that. Let me give you an example: treadmills.
When we first designed treadmills and developed treadmills — hard as a rock. Very, very hard on the joints. And we thought, “Hmm, does this make sense? Is there a better way to do this?” The knees hurt a little bit, the back hurt a little bit — can we add shock absorption? Not that groundbreaking, but believe it or not, it was groundbreaking. First ones to do it. Another key insight: we looked at baby boomers as they got older. And you saw regular knee pain, ankle pain, hip pain — but boy, they want to stay active. What can you do? How can you remove even more impact? How can you execute on that insight?
Enter the elliptical trainer. The most successful single [fitness] product even invented. How can you take that to the next level? That’s a fixed movement. You really can’t do anything beyond the fixed footpath of the elliptical trainer. How can we make that more fun? More personalized? Enter the AMT. That takes impact absorption to a new level. It enables personalization now. So my footpath isn’t fixed. I can walk if I want to walk. I can climb if I want to climb. I can run if I want to run. So a much more personalized experience.
We’re really excited about being part of Amer Sports. Amer Sports is a global organization, and that has enabled us to become a global organization much more rapidly. We have offices throughout the world and our business has grown internationally faster than any other fitness equipment company for the last three years. Such that our international business now represents a significant portion of our business.
In our creed we talk about the overwhelming returns of sharing. And I’m really proud of the fact that in Seattle we are the fifth largest donor among medium-sized companies to charitable organizations. That’s really, really exciting for me. Since 2009 we’ve given more than $1.2 million.
Here at Precor we’re committed to sustainability. Our factory in North Carolina that we just built two years ago is certified as LEED Gold. Here in Woodinville, we’ve won numerous awards from both the state and the county for our recycling practices. We recycle tens of thousands of pounds of cardboards and plastics every single year. And we’re committed to getting better.
We have a creed here at Precor — and of course, creed means belief. These are things we believe in: “I desire a life without limits. I believe fitness is key to living the life I desire. I believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe the human body is an amazing thing. I believe tomorrow will be even better because of my actions today. I believe in the importance of doing things right versus first. I believe in mutual respect and the overwhelming returns of sharing. I am the heart and soul of Precor.”
I’ve been here for most of my adult life and every morning that I get out of bed I’m excited. I’m excited because we help people move well through life. And this transport mechanism — this body we have — how well we take care of it will dictate how well we move through life. So to me this is as laudable and admirable a calling as you’re ever going to have.