Rob Knox is product director for Matrix Fitness and a Johnson Health Tech (JHT) veteran. As part of the UK team, Knox has been involved from the very beginning of JHT's UK journey. He's part of the Matrix Fitness team that has seen its turnover grow to £40 million.
How did the company start?
Peter Lo, his wife Cindy Lo and their business partner, Jean Hung, started the company in 1975 in Taichung, Taiwan. They started with a simple foundry, at a time when American companies were looking overseas for manufacturing support. He called his company Johnson Metals after the famous Xueshan Mountain in Taiwan (pronounced ‘Chasen’), which is similar to the European and US name, Johnson.
Mr Lo earned his first client, Ivanko, by sending hundreds of handwritten letters to companies in America, offering his manufacturing services.
Our modest beginning quickly gave way to two decades of aggressive investment and growth. During this time, JHT emerged as a premier manufacturer for industry-leading fitness equipment companies.
What products are in the Johnson Health Tech portfolio?
Vision Fitness, introduced in 1996, was the first product brand. Today, our brands include Vision, Horizon, Tempo, Treo, AFG and Matrix. These product lines have been sold in nearly 100 countries. In the UK we purely focus on the Matrix brand.
Tell us more about Matrix
Matrix Fitness is JHT’s premium brand. Launched in 2001, it started as a small range of cardiovascular and strength products for the commercial sector. Today we have over 500 fitness products in the Matrix portfolio, including a home range, generating approximately $420 million globally.
How do you differentiate yourselves from other major fitness equipment suppliers?
I truly believe our guiding values have made us one of the fasting growing fitness brands in the world – health, value and sharing.
Health – We believe in health and wellness at all stages of life.
Value – We develop products with the highest standards of quality and lowest cost of ownership, maximising value for all.
Sharing – Every customer, partner, shareholder and employee that joins our global family will share in our success.
Our people, products and company values differentiate us from our competition. At the heart of everything we do are our people - the ideation, creation, production and execution of a superior customer experience begins with our people. Our employees are our family; they’re passionate about our industry and our company and we continually invest and look to improve, creating a more engaged culture.
What can your customers expect from you?
We manufacture over 500 products within the Matrix portfolio, meeting every need of our customers. Our vast product offering enables our customer to differentiate their business. The product offering includes Cardiovascular, Strength, Group Training, Technology, Integrated HIIT programming, Medical and Athletic Performance products.
JHT is a 'Total Solutions Partner,' offering much more than just fitness equipment. We can provide education, training, marketing, finance and construction solutions for our customers too. Webinars, content marketing and training videos are a few examples of what’s offered on our Matrix Learning Centre as a free educational resource for all of our customers.
Community and family is at the heart of the Johnson culture and is immersed into each of our 27 subsidiaries. Each do their part to help their local community. In Taiwan, the Lo family have given back to their childhood home, creating a library and a community learning centre called the Lo Garden. In the UK, the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Staffordshire is just one of the causes we support.
How do you maintain manufacturing standards?
We own our factories and control manufacturing, starting with components, all the way to the finished products.
This vertically integrated process enables us to realise greater value at each stage of production and pass those advantages along to our customers. It also means we don’t have to rely on other companies for the production process.
What sets Matrix apart in the development process?
Continuous improvement and innovation is at the heart of what we do. We encourage our stakeholders to feedback to us and from this we make the small steps to improve. We talk to customers, service technicians and individual users to gather data and to identify ways to improve our existing products and develop new ones to address any outstanding needs.
Our goal is to always challenge and improve on the status quo. Our philosophy is to listen rather than to act. We gather all sorts of information and turn it into product enhancements and prototypes.
Where is Matrix Fitness today?
We continue to drive the evolution of fitness and wellness with our award-winning products. Our focus is on product technology and enhancements that improve the user experience.
We want to redefine fitness with our original group training products and develop solutions to preserve and enhance health through all stages of life.
We've seen a number of changes in the UK business with Matthew Pengelly joining us as managing director, however, we continue to follow the vision and values that provide the foundation to all that we do.