Behind the Scenes

Cybex Wooed by Many But Brunswick Fit Proved Best

A conversation this week with Art Hicks, CFO of UM Holdings and former CEO of Cybex, shed a little light on the decision Hicks and UM Holding co-founders John Aglialoro and Joan Carter made last week to sell Cybex, Medway, Massachusetts, to Brunswick Corp., Lake Forest, Illinois. Brunswick plans to keep the Cybex brand and add it to its Life Fitness Division.

Hicks shared that UM Holdings had been approached by several companies beginning in late 2014 about selling Cybex.

"It got us thinking and evaluating situations," Hicks said, especially as Aglialoro "is at an age where it's typical to spend less time on business and solidify your financial plans. It was a little bit of a reaction that spurred a little deeper thinking about it."

The fit between Life Fitness and Cybex was clear to Aglialoro, who a number of years ago made overtures to Life Fitness and Brunswick about Cybex acquiring Life Fitness, Hicks said.

"So that's how it started in combination with more recently various players approaching us interested in buying Cybex," he said.

When Hicks, Carter, Aglialoro and their team began seriously looking at who could purchase Cybex, they had certain criteria.

"We were only going to consider companies that were committed to maintaining and growing the brand and that valued the production facility and our people," Hicks said. "Brunswick met those criteria."  

Hicks said that when serious discussions began with Brunswick in mid-2015 and picked up steam in the third quarter, Brunswick executives made it clear that they were interested in Cybex's production facilities.

"What excites me and what we learned over time is that they intent to focus on growing their fitness business significantly, and Cybex will help them achieve that goal and that they intend to keep the Cybex brand and the product profile," Hicks said.

Letting go of Cybex might not be too easy for Hicks, who has a long history with the company. He joined UM Holdings in 1983 as controller and was appointed CFO of Trotter Treadmills when UM Holdings bought it in 1983, then moved into the CFO role at Cybex in 2002 after Trotter had merged with Cybex in 1997.

He will help with the transition of Cybex to Brunswick for an undetermined period of time.  

"It's important to me that this combined company gets off to a great start," Hicks said. "This company means a lot to me."

Hicks is not sure yet what his future holds, he said, but both he and Aglialoro love Cybex and the fitness business.

"You might see us in some areas related to fitness," he said. "For the interim, we are here to support the Life Fitness transition."

I hope to see Hicks back in the fitness business someday. He has been one of the most positive and accessible fitness executives I've had the pleasure of interviewing, and I wish him and the rest of the UM Holdings team much success in the future. 

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