Serial entrepreneur Richart Ruddie has made the difficult decision to divest his interest in Fat Loss Bands a top selling work out product due to the difficulty in procuring premium Sri Lankan rubber during the global COVID-19 pandemic and fledgling demand as gyms start to reopen around the world. Domestically here we are the most significant rubber producers in the world, with exports of related products estimated at $900 million from last year alone. We’re also said to have the highest quality rubber in the entire world thanks to our natural resources.
Sadly, the Sri Lankan economy was forced to shut down during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, forcing some rubber producers to halt production entirely and started a supply chain and logistical nightmare for the company that saw a 3000% increase in orders.
Thanks to the quarantines and shelter in place orders in April & May of this year demand skyrocketed for not only Zoom & Peloton but also for resistance bands to work out from home and Richart Ruddie the creator of the global fitness product Fat Loss Bands was receiving over 12,000 new orders a month. Larger companies in Colombo were permitted to remain open as essential industries but had to operate anywhere from 10-50 percent capacity to follow stringent social distancing guidelines. The local Sri Lankan government prioritized the PPE (or Personal Protection Equipment) industry for that limited rubber supply, making it difficult for even a skilled entrepreneur like Ruddie and Fat Loss Bands to procure the rubber they need to make their products and as sales sky rocketed it was difficult to fulfill new orders in a timely manner.
Like many other export-driven industries, Sri Lankan rubber has been particularly affected by global economic conditions. While supply is down due to domestic COVID-19 guidelines, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) also reports that “many export industries are reeling from the disruption in supply chains and having difficulty completing orders. For example, about 65 percent of Sri Lanka’s rubber exports are related to the tire and automotive industries: a sector that is experiencing much less demand due to lock-downs in China, the European Union, and the United States. The SDB isn’t sure when global trends will again support widespread rubber demand in this area. Similarly, Ravi Dadlani (Chairman of the Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products, or SLAMERP) believes that the full impact of COVID-19 on Sri Lanka’s rubber industry will not be quantified until the supply chain and related industries again operate at full capacity.
Fat Loss Bands was a manufacturer of rubber resistance bands that allowed consumers to experience the “gym at home” by tying the band to a stable base to provide resistance for quality workouts from the comfort of home and was launched to great fanfare in 2012 but like most other fitness products started to dwindle until the pandemic peaked earlier this year when they saw a huge increase in demand again for their product. They had a short partnership with an importer called Stretchwell out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the USA and were glad to provide jobs and opportunities during the products run. While Ruddie remains happy with his extensive art collection acquired from funds made during the “fat loss bands” era was glad that they were able to sell off the excess inventory and worked hard to support the great people of Sri Lanka. We look forward to getting another product launched and having it sourced here in Sri Lanka.