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Land America Owner Acquires Star Trac

IRVINE, CA -- Star Trac has signed a purchasing agreement with Michael Bruno, who will acquire a controlling interest in the Irvine, CA-based manufacturer’s parent company, Unisen Inc. Bruno is the owner and founder of manufacturer Land America Health and Fitness Co., Xiamen, China.

The acquisition is expected to be finalized by the end of this week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Last month, Star Trac’s vice president of marketing, Randy Bergstedt, told Club Industry that the company was entertaining investors. Star Trac had just laid off about 100 employees and had consolidated its operations into one facility. In May, Steve Nero resigned as Star Trac’s president and was replaced by Mike Leveque. Leveque had been Star Trac’s managing director for Europe, a post that has since been filled by Matthew Pengelly.

Earlier this year, Land America finalized the purchase of the StairMaster and Schwinn brands from Nautilus Inc. through Land America’s affiliate, Fit Dragon International Ltd.

“Becoming a part of Bruno’s growing family of fitness companies is a tremendous opportunity for Star Trac,” Leveque said in a statement. “His other companies and Star Trac share a strong belief in serving customer needs, and Bruno is committed to supporting the ongoing product innovation investments that are critical for Star Trac to maintain its global leadership position.”

For more than two years, Land America has been manufacturing strength and spinning equipment for Star Trac, Bergstedt told Club Industry today.

“He knows us, and we know him,” Bergstedt said of Bruno.

Bergstedt also confirmed that Star Trac will be run separately from Bruno’s Land America and StairMaster holdings, and that James Doody, the majority owner of Star Trac prior to the acquisition, will retain a small interest in the company.

“Our activities will create the foundation for the company to experience strong growth and profitability,” Bruno, based in Youngstown, Ohio, said in a statement. “This reorganization provides the resources for a strong balance sheet and positions Star Trac for long-term success.”

Baird, a Milwaukee-based investment banking, private equity, wealth and asset management firm, advised the deal. The company had also advised in the two previous Bruno deals.

“After the two successful Nautilus transactions, we had great insights on who might make a good business partner for Star Trac,” Joe Pellegrini, managing director for Baird’s consumer investment banking team, said in a release from the company. “Michael Bruno was a logical option.”

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