Life Time buys the Sea Otter Classic

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) – Frank Yohannan, who has owned and operated the Sea Otter Classic for over 30 years, has found a new owner for the event – Life Time, Inc., a multi-billion dollar fitness and events company.

Life Time is best known in the cycling industry for its ownership of Leadville 100, UNBOUND Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar, and Chequamegon MTB Festival, among other events. He is also a major player in triathlon, hosting the New York and Chicago Triathlons as well as iconic running events including the Miami Marathon and Chicago Half Marathon.

In addition to events, the company operates fitness centers in more than 150 locations across the United States and Canada, boasting several million members, as well as a database of nearly one million athletes who have participated in Life Time events over the past half-dozen years. .

Yohannan announced the sale saying he would remain as director of Sea Otter for the next three years. His staff, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years, will join Life Time.

“The most important thing for me is to keep growing,” Yohannan said. “Of course there is financial growth, which is a key part of my responsibilities. But we also need to grow with our industry, to help predict and support major trends like e-bikes and gravels. We must also be prepared to seize new opportunities ”.

More importantly, said Yohannan, 73, the sale to Life Time, with its financial resources and history in event management, is essential to Sea Otter’s continued growth. “The synergies that Life Time offers are some that we could never have achieved on our own,” she said. Yohannan, who declined to disclose the selling price, said he will continue to independently license the Sea Otter name for events in Canada, Spain and Australia.

“We think of Sea Otter as a hub in our cycling ecosystem” – Kimo Seymour, Life Time

Meanwhile, plans for the Sea Otter event from October 7-10 remain in effect with what Yohannan described as solid early registrations for camping and racing. And, at this point, exhibition space purchases continue to exceed previous estimates, Yohannan said. Sea Otter was canceled in 2020 and the traditional opening season was moved to the fall.

Kimo Seymour, president of Life Time Events and Media with offices in Boulder, Colorado, said Sea Otter has been driving the growth and transition of cycling in North America for years. Seymour said he first met Yohannan several years ago and expressed interest in acquiring the West Coast event.

“Frank said he appreciated the interest, but giving him two or three years could be at a point where an acquisition would make sense,” he said. Seymour, an accomplished triathlete and cyclist, finished the Leadville 100 MTB race 13 times, recording an average time of 7:40. He has deep roots in the cycling industry and is currently a board member of NICA.

“We think of Sea Otter as a hub in our cycling-related ecosystem,” he said. “Sea Otter will be our biggest single event and our first foray into the B2B side of the cycling industry,” she said.

“We were only interested in acquiring events that have iconic brands, such as Sea Otter, which offer great experiences and are located in iconic locations,” said Seymour, citing Leadville 100, UNBOUND Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar and others.

Yohannan and Seymour agree that although Sea Otter is a first-class event for racing and racing consumers, it is also a key player in the industry, particularly its role in organizing an annual business conference ahead of the day. opening hours of Sea Otter. Sea Otter has helped organize the Bicycle Leadership Conference for many years, which is owned by PeopleForBikes. Last year, the two groups went their separate ways, with Sea Otter planning to develop its own conference. The spring event had become a showcase for cycling media to see and report on new products being launched for next season. The Expo of the event was a godsend for consumers, but behind the scenes it was an opportunity for OE suppliers to meet the product managers of the bicycle brand.

Yohannan plans to resume a business conference related to the spring event, which he says brings together industry executives to meet in a positive atmosphere. “We think it is important to identify the challenges and opportunities for the future. We think it’s one of our responsibilities, ”he said. “It’s the best time on the calendar and Monterey is one of the best places to hold one. So our goal is to reintroduce the conference in April 2022, “he added.

However, the conference content and attendees may change in the future, Yohannan and Seymour said. “Sea Otter is really expanding beyond purely cycling-related exhibitor types and issues, so we think there might be an opportunity to do something outdoors-focused than just cycling,” said Seymour.

A key goal for Seymour and Yohannan is to expand consumer participation and increase exhibitor sales. Yohannan pointed out that Sea Otter currently has a capacity of 60%. “There is Laguna Seca’s capacity for really robust growth over the next few years,” she said. “Above all there is a lot of community capacity, be it restaurants, hotel beds or other facilities,” she said, noting that some race events, such as GP bikes, are twice as large as Sea Otter. .

Seymour said Life Time, with its database of athletes and spa members, could help expand festival participation by attracting visitors from across the United States. However, this will require complex transportation planning, including buses and off-site parking. “We don’t want to end up with a thousand exhibitors and the same number of attendees – it’s not a great experience for exhibitors,” she said.

Yohannan, who holds an MBA from the University of Colorado, plans to continue his work at Sea Otter, concluding a military and commercial career that began in Spokane, Washington when he joined the United States Marine Corps. United as enlisted. He later went to officer candidate school and began a 22-year aviation career, including combat positions during the Vietnam War.

After a tour of the Pentagon where he ran a microcomputer development program, he was later transferred to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey as an instructor. He retired in 1990 as a lieutenant colonel. After his retirement, Yohannan launched an event management business in Monterey and with co-founder Lou Rudolph, launched the festival. Yohannan remains president and CEO of Sea Otter Classic, Inc. and president of the Sea Otter Foundation.

Life Time was founded in 1992 by Bahram Akradi with the opening of a 27,000 square foot fitness club in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Its corporate offices are in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Akradi emigrated to the United States from Tehran, Iran at the age of 17 to attend college in Colorado. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, paying for school by first working as a janitor in a chain of fitness companies where he soon began selling season tickets. He later ran a fitness center in Minneapolis and became a co-owner.

In 2011, the company had revenues of over $ 1 billion and four years later it was acquired by Leonard Green & Partners and TPG Capital, both private equity firms, in a transaction estimated at over $ 4 billion. In 2019, the private company announced revenue of $ 1.7 billion. Akradi remains founder, president and CEO of Life Time.

Bike dealer and industry news produces every year the official guide of the sea otter under license of the event.


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