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SGMA Creates Association of Fitness Industry Retailers & Manufacturers (AFIRM)

Date: 12/15/09

Industry Veteran Chuck Leve Named Executive Director

SILVER SPRING, MD – December 15, 2009 -- The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) is addressing the needs of the fitness industry by creating the Association of Fitness Industry Retailers & Manufacturers (AFIRM) – a new trade association dedicated to developing benefits, products, and services specifically for fitness industry manufacturers and retailers.

The new association will address fitness industry issues, help raise revenue and reduce expenses on behalf of its members, lobby Congress for pro-fitness legislation, and develop research.  AFIRM will disseminate information through educational events, it will publish a bi-weekly newsletter for its constituents, and it plans to launch its website on February 1, 2010. 

But first and foremost, AFIRM will give manufacturers and retailers a voice in the industry.

“Virtually all segments of the fitness industry – except manufactures and retailers - have their own associations for representation, unity, and recognition,” said SGMA President and CEO Tom Cove. “AFIRM will enhance the business climate for manufacturers and retailers by bringing them together and working on their behalf.”

To help achieve these objectives, SGMA and AFIRM have hired Chuck Leve as AFIRM’s first executive director.  Leve, who spent 27 years with IHRSA from its inception through 2008, brings his 35-year fitness experience in successfully launching, nurturing, and growing a trade association.

“I’m thrilled to again be working with industry manufacturers and I’m humbled by the confidence SGMA has shown in me.  There’s much work to do and I’m up for the challenge,” said Leve, who as IHRSA’s Vice President of Business Development, worked closely with leading suppliers in areas of membership, trade shows, publications, and sponsorship. 

“Fitness has always been a manufacturer-driven business on the institutional side and a retailer-driven business on the consumer side,” he added.  “The more these segments are able to work together, the better it will be for the entire industry.”

AFIRM’s membership base will go beyond manufacturers and retailers.  Industry associations, publications, and organizations will be invited to join, as will companies doing business with manufacturers and retailers.

“Manufacturers are the common denominator linking all sides of the fitness industry, said Cove.  “We intend to complement the groups that are already out there.  A strong, viable, healthy manufacturing and retailing side of our business can only mean good things for all segments of the industry.”

Affiliation with SGMA will afford AFIRM members the best of both worlds.  Fitness-specific products and services will be the cornerstone of its membership offering, with the value-added ability to tap into SGMA’s world-renowned advocacy and research capabilities.

For further information about AFIRM, please contact:
Chuck Leve
Executive Director
Association of Fitness Industry Retailers & Manufacturers
8505 Fenton St., Suite 211
Silver Spring, MD 20910
847-480-1818 x5599 (Office)
847-204-7240 (Cell)

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.  SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by fostering participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion, and public policy.  More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com.

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