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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 4 years ago

Stretch it

Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers is poised for major expansion in 2016. That includes up to 85% growth in franchises.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer


Why 2016 is important: Company targets expansion in franchise locations, in addition to a large capital infusion.

As the spelling of its name clearly indicates, Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers takes a different approach to physical therapy.

It's changing how that therapy is delivered by creating a network of physical therapy centers under one franchised brand — an atypical scenario in an industry that's historically highly fragmented.

But the company has even loftier goals to address, not only the ailments and weaknesses faced by individual patients. It also targets the way people approach health care in general.

“Our game plan, ultimately, is to change the face of health care as it is today,” says Jim Abrams, one of the co-founders of the Sarasota-based company. “Medicine today is all episodic. A person has a problem and responds to it by going to the doctor, where only the problem is looked at. Our methodology is looking at the total human being and the whole body.”

That means Fyzical franchise locations provide more than just traditional physical therapy. Locations offer treatment plans to prevent falls from balance issues, medically based fitness programs and total body evaluations that identify patients' problem areas. Fyzical personnel then recommend whether a patient's issues can be addressed through fitness, therapy, a doctor's visit or some combination of solutions.

“We're able to test and identify things that are perhaps at an early stage and can be totally prevented,” says Abrams. “It's going to save on the overall medical costs to the United States phenomenally.”

This way of thinking seems to be gaining traction both in and out of the physical therapy industry. The company currently has some 135 franchise locations in 28 states, with annual sales approaching $100 million under the brand nationwide.

“The people we have attracted to us are innovative,” says Abrams. “They get it and are willing to take that risk and go across the bridge from the present to the future. And we've drawn interest from the financial community worldwide — investment bankers, private equity firms and medical groups from across the world. They all say that not only are we right on trend, but we're ahead of the trend.”

At minimum, Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers expects to conclude 2016 with 200 to 250 centers in the United States, an increase of up to 85% over the 2015 franchise count. But those numbers could be exponentially larger courtesy of a recent decision by the company's board to accept outside capital to fuel faster growth.

Two options are on the table: A group of physicians is interested in investing in the company, as is a private equity group with interests in health care. Both bring industry expertise and an ability to help Fyzical expand within and outside the United States. A decision is expected sometime in January on which option is the best fit and provides the most benefits to the company and its franchisees.

Fyzical is a unit of BizZoom, a private equity firm launched by Abrams and longtime business partner Terry Nicholson in 2012. The two have already had success in home services, building Sarasota-based Clockwork Home Services into a major franchise business.

And BizZoom plans to pick up that toolbox once again: Abrams says it's in the final stages of getting ready to launch another home services franchise initiative out of Sarasota, likely in the first quarter. So the firm will be helping people with both how they live and where they live.

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