PRECOR: Approximately thirty years ago, after the engineering of a stationary fitness rowing machine by David Smith in his basement, one of the most respected, popular and successful fitness equipment brands was birthed. Spawning from Mr. Smith’s development of an ergonomically correct rowing machine in 1980, Precor has turned into one of the international leaders in the branding, design, production and marketing of fitness equipment. No more than 3 years after David finished the design of the rowing machine in his basement, he was joined by the bright and fitness oriented opportunist, Bill Potts. Mr. Potts brought his knowledge of electronic functionality to the table and sought out to integrate unique exercise programmability for users, as well as easy to read statistical feedback, into the exercise equipment Smith was designing. Mr. Potts believed that allowing people to monitor their stats such as speed, time, distance and other readouts, would increase the popularity of their workout equipment and make using gym equipment more enjoyable for the regular user. Ultimately, making the exercise equipment more interactive from a user perspective, intrigued people because they could monitor their results in real-time. Knowing how fast or long one would have to exercise in order to surpass their previous records, proved to be highly motivating and helped treadmills, stationary exercise bikes and rowing machines become more favorable through the eyes of potential buyers. Through the assistance of Mr. Potts, the popularity of exercise programming options in fitness equipment, and the popularity for Precor fitness equipment as a whole, began to take off. Once 1985 hit, several more additions had been made to the once one man band that was Precor; the Precor brand expanded to carrying treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines.
As momentum gained through popular reviews, it became clear that Precor fitness equipment was rated to be at the top of the industry in the near future. However, in order to be an industry leader in fitness supplies, Precor had to be a player in the national heath clubs and gyms. Without substantial sales to commercial fitness centers and gyms, it is hard to be a real player in the business of fitness equipment manufacturing in the United States. Therefore, proving the foresight of fitness experts true, in 1990, Precor entered the health club scene, with a series of commercial treadmills, built to withstand all day wear and tear, by people ranging from skinny to fat, and tall to small. There is a major difference in the structural integrity and mechanical capacities between commercial (health club) and residential exercise equipment. Whereas a solid home treadmill can be used at most up for up to four hours a day, a gym quality treadmill can be used for up to four times as long. Precor now had their own line of commercial treadmills. Precor now had a line of heavy duty gym equipment with the necessary the size, mechanical capacities, speed and structural integrity, to compete with the other leading brands in the fitness equipment industry.
The year of 1995 was another breakthrough year for Precor, as they invented the first elliptical cross-trainer and put it on the map in the form of their Precor EFX 544 cross-trainer. The Precor EFX 544 was designed with an adjustable cross-ramp and fixed arms. The adjustable incline ramp makes it easy for users to work out different muscle groups in their lower body through the simple adjustment of the angle on the incline ramp. The EFX 544 was so popular that Precor decided to continue their production of elliptical cross-trainers for usage in health clubs and homes. One of the first additions to the Precor line of elliptical cross-trainers was a cross-trainer with moving upper body arms. After already having the cardiovascular fitness industry in the palm, through the acquisition of Pacific Fitness in 1998, Precor made giant strides towards building a successful line of strength equipment. A result of this merger was the extremely popular Precor Stretch Trainer, that is a favorite of fitness trainers and gym patrons.
In 1999, Premark International, which was parent company of the Precor brand at the time, was bought out by International Tool Works. Soon after ITW acquired Precor, popularity for Precor increased, as their equipment become more affordable and focused on consumer needs. With a bigger bankroll and more steam built up, Precor was acquired by Amer Sports in 2002 as part of a 180 million dollar deal. Amer Sports coming into the picture resulted in Precor changing their primary goals. After years of revolving around industrial products, Precor’s new aim was to become an international distributor of a wider range of fitness equipment and sporting goods.