Nautilus celebrates opening of its new headquarters

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

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Proof of a company's ability to survive an economic shock and to prepare for a fresh future went on display Friday morning as Vancouver-based Nautilus Inc. -- a manufacturer of fitness equipment -- celebrated its new global headquarters amid cheers and claps from its employees.

Under a blue sky and an already-blazing morning sun, Bruce Cazenave, CEO of Nautilus, said the opening of the company's 52,000-square-foot building in east Vancouver represents a recommitment to keep jobs in the community and a repositioning of the company for growth.

"This is truly a great day for our company," Cazenave said.

The relocation of Nautilus from offices at Columbia Center at Columbia Tech Center to 17750 S.E. Sixth Way -- which is still inside the Tech Center campus -- comes as the company shores up its finances and rolls out new products, including the CoreBody Reformer, a T-shaped device that combines Pilates, dance and yoga.

The company has climbed back to profitability after struggling for several years in the aftermath of the economic crash. Its new headquarters is smaller than the 72,000 square feet the company occupied about a year ago at the 478,000-square-foot Columbia Center, which is now home to PeaceHealth's corporate headquarters. Hewlett-Packard Co. also is a tenant at Columbia Center.

Nautilus -- well known for its body-building and cardio machines -- posted a profit of $2.35 million, 8 cents per share, for the first six months of 2012. That compares with a net loss of $1.66 million, 5 cents per share, during the first six months of 2011.

'We are here'

Nautilus sells its fitness products through two primary channels -- its direct business, which reaches consumers through TV and other advertising; and retail, which offers the company's products through brick-and-mortar outlets.

In an architectural nod to those two important business channels, Cazenave said, the main entrance to the new headquarters features two stones -- made of volcanic rock -- rising from the ground.

During the company's ribbon-cutting ceremony, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt each made supportive remarks about Nautilus' focus on helping people get fit and its contributions to the community.

They spoke to a large crowd of employees clad in T-shirts that on the front said "We are here," with an arrow pointing to Vancouver's place in the world, and that on the back said: "It's a small world but it's all ours."

Herrera Beutler said Nautilus plays a key part in equipping people to take responsibility for their well-being. "You are all part of making that difference," she said.

Leavitt said the company has been a good corporate citizen, donating, for example, equipment to the Firstenburg Community Center.

He said Nautilus has invited him to participate in one of its cross-fit classes and that one of these days he's going to show up with his gear, ready to go.

Building features

After speakers made their remarks, visitors were invited to tour the inside of the company's new headquarters building, which includes energy-efficient lighting, a retail showroom, employee bike center, and a state-of-the-art gym open to employees and their families.

Nautilus employs about 300 people, 240 of whom are based in Vancouver.

As Cazenave guided visitors throughout the building, he was clearly excited about the company's future.

He directed onlookers to a wall where they could see the company's core values in key words, including "driven" and "accountable."

He pointed to a recumbent elliptical machine and said it was among the new products Nautilus plans to unveil this fall.

He noted the building's open work spaces and emphasis on natural lighting. He described how employees in the call center help customers with questions.

At one point, standing inside a training room, Cazenave said the company is still putting some finishing touches on its new quarters.

However, having begun moving employees into the building on Aug. 1, Nautilus has basically everything in place.

"We're all in now," Cazenave said.

Aaron Corvin: http://twitter.com/col_econ;http://on.fb.me/AaronCorvin; 360-735-4518; aaron.corvin@columbian.com