Among the industries on which the pandemic was most known to have afflicted an extra helping of earnings chaos, most business analysts agree that the home fitness market is perhaps most deserving of special mention.
Indeed, few sectors logged steeper gains and more precipitous losses during COVID’s comings and goings than home fitness—and perhaps few demanded more reflexive, in-the-moment, decision-making inside the management cockpit.
At BowFlex (formerly Nautilus), that cockpit has been “manned” by CEO Jim Barr and CFO Aina Konold, both of whom entered the C-suite during the latter half of 2019—only to have COVID immediately upend their ensuing 2020 flight plan.Read More
Over the past 4 years, Barr and Konold have remained buckled in together as they have educated investors in anticipation of completing a long-awaited turnaround that they predict will arrive in the next 12 to 18 months.
Along the way, CEO Barr has demonstrated a willingness to address tough questions—just as has Konold, whose facility for disarming unwelcome news is perhaps worthy of envy among her CFO peers.
Says Konold: “A lot of finance people unfortunately stop after sharing the bad news—and then the CEO, the board, and the rest of the executive team, are left thinking: ‘Okay, so what do we do now?’ It’s important to have those answers.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about BowFlex Inc. … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Konold: I was one of the first hires by our new CEO. The reason that I chose to join is that I just loved his vision of where he wanted to take the company—a vision that had been created before COVID hit, since he had arrived in July 2019. On my first day on the job, there was a meeting where we basically threw out the next year-and-a-half product pipeline and replaced it with all-new equipment that was going to arrive within 18 months. So, this was a very, very pivotal time. What Jim wanted to do was to essentially really live out the mission of the company, which was to make people healthier.Read More
The old way that we did things was to sell you a piece of equipment. After this, we didn’t know what you actually did with it. Maybe we never heard from you again. You might be working out. You might be using it as a towel rack. We didn’t really know what you were doing with it. But Jim loved the notion of connected fitness, and the reason that he loved it was that it presented an opportunity to have a daily communication with this individual and then help them to achieve their goal.
From the beginning, our approach was dissimilar from things that had become quite popular. I think that Peloton did a great job of bringing spin classes to the home—but this was not our own angle, which is to find out what you, individually, are working on. Maybe you just want to be able to run the 10k. Maybe you’re worried about your blood pressure and just want to make sure that you have a handle on that. Maybe you’re just interested in BowFlex helping out with a mental health exercise, and you’re at the point where you just want to forget about the world for a little bit and ride your bike in a different scenario. And so on.
So, Jim’s vision is very unique to the individual. He wants to create something that is adaptive and almost like AI—and I hesitate to use the term “AI.” We’re not quite that advanced yet, but we’re going there. We would like to create a systematic benefit that would adapt to your goals, to where you are, to what you did last week on the machine—so that you could continually progress. Ideally, then, we would be a lifelong partner.
The other concept that Jim is really in love with is that the first day that you get the machine will not be your best day. Every single week or month, we’ll be updating the software. There’ll be something new for you to experience, some new incremental capability that we didn’t have before.
I was just really interested in how we were going to take what was basically a hardware company and turn it into this vision. Now, we’ve created a plan to begin connecting our machines to a personalized, AI-oriented platform.
“Be fearless and take on roles that ‘you don’t know how to do.’ Approach any new endeavor in the way you handled school—understand the syllabus, research, form a study group, and learn. This mind-set will give you the confidence to tackle unforeseen challenges and effectively lead your team through change.” –Aina Konold, CFO, BowFlex
BowFlex | www.bowflex.com | Vancouver, WA