How does a fast-growing franchise company manage a big leadership transition? In part, by building in some overlap.
The new year marked big changes for physical therapy franchise company Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers.
Brian Belmont, with experience in franchise and wellness, took over Jan. 15 from founder Jim Abrams as CEO. Abrams officially retired Jan. 31.
January was also the month Chicago-based private equity firm New Harbor Capital made a majority equity investment in the company, where it now controls 51% of the business.
Abrams, 70, founded the Sarasota-based company in 2012. It has grown significantly in franchises to 301 locations in 37 states. It had $14.37 million in revenue in 2017, up 79.6% from $8 million in 2016.
It's not the first franchise company Abrams has led to skyrocketing growth. The list also includes franchise Clockwork Homes Services and, earlier in his career, he helped Weight Watchers grow its franchise business.
Abrams brought in Belmont, 48, in part to give himself time to get more involved in running another growing venture — American Dreams Restaurant Group. The group includes Sarasota seafood restaurant Duval's, along with two newer concepts, Element and PBnT.
When Belmont started mid-January, the overlap with Abrams allowed them to spend more time together. During that period, they've reviewed the company's organizational chart and Abrams answered Belmont's questions. Belmont spent time talking to franchisees before he took on the top role, and he also pored over the company's goal book and long-term plans.
Belmont, who was brought in after New Harbor conducted a national search for a CEO, knows the wellness industry. From July 2013 to May 2017, he was Planet Fitness' executive vice president of franchise operations and development. He's also the owner of seven Planet Fitness franchises in Colorado.
That experience as a franchisee himself is important, Abrams says, because it gives him a unique perspective. It's also something Belmont and Abrams have in common. Abrams is a franchisee, too, owning a handful of Fyzical franchises in Las Vegas.
Belmont says he was attracted to Fyzical because he wanted to continue to work in the wellness industry. He says he gets personal satisfaction by helping to change people's lives through wellness and fitness. He discovered that during his time at Planet Fitness. “We truly change people's lives on a daily basis,” Belmont says of Fyzical. “It's great to wake up and be a part of that.”
Abrams, while officially retired, will remain an owner of Fyzical and chairman of the board. Belmont, meanwhile, aims to grow the Fyzical brand worldwide. “I like to call it thoughtful growth,” he says. “Not just quick growth.”
Belmont also wants to stay true to what Fyzical calls the company's “pillars” — prevention, intervention, behavior, education and technology.
Those pillars, Abrams says, represent the ways Fyzical has distinguished itself from competitors. Abrams believes Fyzical is in good hands with Belmont. He expects him to lend youthful exuberance, excitement and professionalism to the company.
Says Abrams: “I think Brian will do great things here.”
At A Glance
Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers
Year Revenue %growth
2015 $4.7 million
2016 $8 million 70.2%
2017 $14.37 million 79.6%