Beth Parker Visscher, ’01

An exercise in adaptability

March 5, 2023

Business

By Cheryl Spain

Beth Parker Visscher, ’01, joined ElliptiGO, manufacturer of the first elliptical bicycle, as vice president of operations in 2010, two years after the company’s founding, and built its business operations from scratch. But even she couldn’t have predicted the impact a global pandemic would have on her business.

“That first week of the pandemic, our sales skyrocketed,” she said. “We quickly figured out that we were going to run out of product.”

Visscher began working with vendors to meet the needs of customers looking for new ways to stay fit at home. Time, however, was not on her side. Supply chain disruptions caused delays, leaving the company “in backorder for almost a year and half,” she said. When product finally started rolling in, newly available vaccines were prompting a return to pre-pandemic activities. Sales started to decline.

“We had already started to put the brakes on production,” Visscher said. “We hadn’t actually seen a decline in sales, but we were predicting we probably would. If we hadn’t started to push orders out and make cancellations early on, we would’ve been in a worse spot.”

Visscher found ways to support essential but cash-strapped suppliers by purchasing their parts and reselling them online as spares, creating a new revenue stream. The company also reined in its own costs by opening a warehouse. “I researched, did all the modeling,” she said. “It’s been a huge, huge, cost savings for us.”

The ups and downs of the pandemic have made Visscher, who previously worked in sales operations at DC Shoes, Quiksilver, and Adio Footwear, more opportunistic and more apt to question processes that were always standard practice.

“Sometimes you get put in these challenges and then pivot what you’re doing to make it work, and it creates real opportunity,” she said. “The pandemic opened us up to things we never really thought to do before.”