Keeping Fit with the Best

Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions

It’s no secret that health and fitness go hand in hand in achieving a state of total well-being, happiness, and longevity. Getting in shape – and staying that way – is not an easy task. It can take a great deal of motivation and determination.

Thankfully, with the right support, direction and encouragement, a fit and healthy lifestyle is achievable; it just requires the proper mindset.

Peter Hodgson, Managing Director of Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions, already knows this. The sixty year old remains active and very involved in Orbit, a family owned fitness equipment supplier headquartered in Perth, Western Australia. The business was established in 1983, and over 30 years later, it is the largest privately owned fitness retail chain in Australia.

“Family working and living together for over 30 years creates an interesting dynamic that doesn’t usually survive over time,” says Mr Hodgson. “Even small businesses started up with a couple of partners not living together very rarely survive as the business grows and evolves.” And survive Orbit has.

Mr Hodgson’s life partner and daughter are actively involved in the business, along with several “adopted sons” who have been with Orbit for over 20 years. He shares that owning a family business requires a 24/7 focus on driving the business forward. “Our vision obviously evolves over time, but we are very rarely in conflict about our direction,” he explains.

Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions offers a wide range of wholesale and commercial fitness equipment – everything from punch bags to inversion tables (gravity machines) to suit all fitness levels and ages. The company’s experienced staff offer expert advice on the appropriate equipment for specific needs, such as muscle gain, cardio, fat reduction, or simply general fitness. Orbit is an agent for top quality brands including Cybex, Stex, Synergy, Impulse, and Bodysolid. “We are contracted by several 24 hour gyms to outfit and service them here in Western Australia,” relates Mr Hodgson.

Orbit’s Commercial service team is backed by local, national, and international support, providing fast service and equipment parts response. “Orbit’s service technicians are manufacturer trained and approved to ensure we provide the best possible support,” shares Mr Hodgson. “We have a large fleet of modern customer service vehicles which are tracked and on the road daily, dedicated to servicing our commercial clients.”

With nine stores and one franchise in Western Australia, Orbit has a team of 78 fully motivated staff, many of which have been with the team for 20 years or more. The dedication of the staff clearly pays off; “we have the best, most profitable fitness retail chain in Australia.”

Indeed, every year, over 350 containers move through Orbit’s warehouse, and to ensure the servicing and warranties of its products, the company has developed the largest service divisions in Australia. “Our opposition relies mainly on outsourced contract service techs.”

Plans for expansion
With plans for additional stores in Western Australia, Mr Hodgson also anticipates expansion into the eastern seaboard – New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. “The major challenge in any expansion plan is getting the right teams together,” he says. With its Melbourne wholesale office closed after experimenting with a remote office and distribution centre, the team found that it is still easier and more cost effective to run wholesale operations out of Western Australia.

Now with several exclusive fitness products requiring the opening of new locations in the east, Orbit is reconsidering franchising. Mr Hodgson relates that the primary challenge in trying to open locations on its own is getting motivated retail staff who are willing and able to put in the dedication that Orbit’s success requires. “If we are going to offer our customers a great buying experience, we can’t rely on part timers with little interest in making retail a career,” he explains.

Orbit recently invested in “indoor walking”, a group training program that is the rage in Europe. This will provide excellent exposure in recreation facilities and gymnasiums Australia wide.

Strong relationships with suppliers
Orbit’s long-term relationships with both clients and suppliers have made the company the contractor of choice. With a strong track record of delivering quality fitness equipment, Orbit has the expertise, innovation, and flexibility to deliver an array of cost saving product options to accommodate building sizes and working conditions.

It is this building and securing of strong relationships with suppliers that is “the cornerstone of our success in this industry,” reflects Mr Hodgson. “This is a double edged sword. The more successful you are in promoting name brand products, the more pressure our suppliers get from other resellers in our region to change representation.”

Orbit spends hundreds of thousands of dollars searching for products that can be sold under its own “Orbit” brand. Although this strategy does protect the company, it is very costly, as it requires the utilisation of manufacturers and an in-house design team to create and produce custom moulds.

Quality products and the latest technology
Orbit imports all equipment from the US, Korea, Taiwan and China. The company is very selective in choosing the right product for installation, as there is nothing beneficial in having unhappy customers who constantly require product servicing. Orbit has one of the largest service and spare parts facilities in Australia, allowing the company to respond quickly and effectively to any customer concerns.

Although it’s a big investment in resources and time, Orbit makes a presence at major fitness shows around the world to ensure that the company is abreast of the latest in fitness equipment technology. In addition to international travel, Orbit employs local agents in China and Taiwan.

Mr Hodgson explains that Orbit has been outfitting the mining sector for a number of years, mainly because of its Western Australia base. Orbit is frequently asked to quote directly to miners or container supply companies. Orbit teams are brought in during the planning, installation and servicing stage. The company’s administrative team organises inductions and air flights, then ensures equipment containers have arrived on site and are ready to be unloaded. “It is a tough sector to supply to as it is remote and demanding. Like everything these days, you are just as good as your last service and your last quotation.”

A social responsibility
Asked if Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions believes that it has a social responsibility for Australia’s rising obesity rate, Mr Hodgson reveals that Orbit donated $10,000 in vouchers to the “Get Active, Get Healthy” campaign, sponsored by the Sunday Times and directed toward families who desire a fit lifestyle. He believes everyone in the nation – whether on an individual or corporate level – has a role to play in promoting the importance of health and fitness.

As a reflection of its commitment to encourage healthy living, Orbit’s home office has a foldable treadmill for staff to use while checking emails. In 2013, Orbit also purchased pedal stools that can be used while doing homework or surfing the internet. 200 of these stools were donated to schools as a back to school promotion. “We are always on the lookout for products that are appealing to this demographic,” says Mr Hodgson, aiming to get the younger generation interested in health and fitness.

As for the future of Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions, Mr Hodgson acknowledges that exit planning is often a topic of discussion with friends around his age – and their accountants. However, he can’t see himself retiring in the next five years and is instead continuously seeking out new opportunities.

“We believe that we need to be continually evolving and trying new things to thrive in this rapidly changing landscape,” assertss Mr Hodgson. Of his own three decade connection and affinity for his company, he concludes, “Orbit Fitness is my alter ego. Something I aspire to be – fit, healthy and alive.”

For more information about Orbit Health and Fitness Solutions, please visit http://www.orbitfitness.com.au/

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June 19, 2018, 10:43 AM AEST