Exel oyj of Finland is opening a new North American subsidiary based in Georgia, Vermont. The new operation will support Exel's existing cross-country ski business in the U.S. and Canada and will serve as the North American headquarters for other Nordic fitness concepts including Nordic Walking.

In 1997, Exel introduced a new activity called “Nordic Walking” to encourage people to become physically fit. Since then, Nordic Walking has become one of the fastest growing fitness activities in the world, especially in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Currently, there are 3.5 million people who participate in Nordic Walking on a regular basis.

Exel continues to be at the forefront of the development of this sport while also supporting the growth of other Nordic fitness sports concepts including Nordic Snowshoeing and Nordic Blading.

“We recognize the importance of the North American market for our winter and Nordic Walking businesses. For us to play a major role in these businesses here, it is necessary to make decisions about the direction of the brand directly instead of operating through a distributor. We have developed a strategy that is focused and targeted for the North American market. By creating a subsidiary, we are able to combine the knowledge in our specialized industry with the expertise of individuals who understand the North American marketplace. By making this decision, we strongly believe we can become a leading company in the outdoor fitness market,” said Chris Griffin, International Sales Manager for Exel in Finland.

“Starting November 1, 2004, Exel USA, Inc.'s operations including sales, marketing, and customer service will be headquartered in Georgia, Vermont,” said Tracy Ferland, ExelÂ’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “It is very exciting to be part of the start-up team for this new business venture. Because of Exel's reputation as a world leader in the manufacture of cross-country ski poles and a pioneer in the development of Nordic Walking, we believe that we have a lot to offer retailers and consumers. In particular, we believe that the Nordic Walking business has incredible growth potential over the next few years. It is an activity that everyone can do regardless of age or fitness level.”