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General Information:A new name from Johnson via their Horizon subsidiary. Essentially, they needed to create some space between Horizon, which is primarily sold in the mass retailers, and their specialty store line. We had expected AFG to make a big push this fall, but since Johnson has taken full control of Vision with the merger announcement in September 2009, AFG as a separate brand makes as much sense as a football bat.

Manufacturing Philosophy:We gained a much greater understanding of Johnson's business this past spring with our visit to their headquarters and facilities in Taiwan and China. Johnson is the most integrated manufacturer of fitness equipment in the world. This can be both good and bad. The good is that you are in control of almost all aspects of production. The bad is that you are in control of almost all aspects of production. They really seem to be focused on doing things the right way so it appears that this is a case where it is good. If they do have a problem, they only have themselves to blame. Overall, we were impressed with their quality procedures and design and testing processes and this year's reviews will reflect our better understanding of their operations.

Company Outlook : Since this brand is a now as extraneous as an appendix, we expect that it will be quickly jettisoned like the aforementioned body part. Why build a new name on what is essentially a rebadged fitness line in order to duplicate what you already have? Johnson has established themselves as one of the largest and most stable companies in this business and they certainly have their act together so we would have fewer concerns about product support when they drop the AFG name. Since they still have a large presence in the market, we will review them until they remove the name from the market.