PORTLAND, OR — Nautilus, a maker of home fitness equipment, has hired the Hoffman Agency as the firm expands its North American footprint and expertise beyond tech PR.

John Fread, director of global marketing communications at Nautilus, told the Holmes Report that Hoffman was selected for the mid-six figure business following a competitive review last fall against mostly consumer-focused agencies.

“Because our main channel is direct-to-consumer, we needed consumer engagement and someone who understands innovation and content,” Fread said. “The Hoffman Agency came to the table with a very integrated approach.”

Shortly before, the agency had hired VP Kymra Knuth in Portland, who had consumer and tech experience at Edelman and Waggener Edstrom, to spearhead new business in the Pacific Northwest with an eye towards consumer brands. Hoffman is based in San Jose with additional offices in Europe and Asia-Pac.

“We saw how most of the very big agencies had shut down in Portland and that’s because there wasn’t much business there during the recession,” said Steve Burkhart, GM of North America for Hoffman. “We think we’re the right size agency to fill that void from Portland to Vancouver.”

The win demonstrates renewed momentum for the agency that has struggled to find its footing in North America following its heyday in the late 90s. Last year, CEO Lou Hoffman hired Burkhart to revive the agency in the region.

“The Hoffman Agency had a period of stagnation” but this year Q1 growth in North America is 30 percent higher than Q1 2012, Burkhart noted.

The comeback mindset is reflected in the work Hoffman has been hired to do for Nautilus, a company bouncing back from its own market setbacks. In addition to driving product reviews and fitness-related coverage, Hoffman is tasked to bring attention to the fitness company’s philanthropic efforts and corporate execs, bolster internal comms to help turn employees brand ambassadors, and curate content for its product blogs. Social media is primarily being handled in-house.

“Consumers have a perceived notion that [home gym equipment] will end up being where they hang their laundry -- but we understand how the consumer has changed and our products have changed along with it,” Fread said. “We have to go to market and tell those stories.”