Jorden Gold, founder of Stretch Zone, has unique bragging rights in the fast-growing category of stretching franchises—he has personally stretched Drew Brees. “We met him in San Diego, because his college roommates were interested in doing a Stretch Zone. He came in to vet us. I was working on his throwing shoulder,” said Gold about the now retired NFL superstar.
Brees called it the best stretch he ever had, tweeted “Jorden Gold is such a stud,” and signed on as a franchisee. But Gold wasn’t attracted by his fame. “Just to be clear, we’ve had many opportunities to have an ambassador that was of celebrity status, and I chose not to. Just buying someone’s name, which is what people do, it doesn’t interest me,” Gold said.
“The only reason we considered having the relationship we have, is he asked very sound questions. I said to my team afterward, if he were not Drew Brees would we do business with him, and we all said yeah.”
Gold’s passion for stretching is personal. “My grandfather was my best friend my entire life, and in later years from complications of diabetes he became bedridden. I decided to stretch him every day,” he recalled. “In about a year’s time I got him from not walking, to a walker, to a cane, to dancing at my cousin’s wedding, and I knew I had to scale it.”
Franchising since 2017 and now with more than 179 units open, Stretch Zone took a long path to success. By 2004 Gold was implementing his system with the rich and famous, as he puts it. By 2006, “I was training other people to do it, doing giant workshops around the world. 2008 is when I did the first NBA team; 2010 the first NFL team; 2012 I was teaching at top 10 massage schools.”
He wanted to reach regular people, though, not superstars. “It was all really about getting to the masses,” but that road was expensive. “I kept burning the boats, as I call it, going into personal poverty to get there.”
Enter Tony Zaccario, today the CEO of Stretch Zone, who learned about Gold and his franchise from his then girlfriend, now wife, Chelsea, when she took a job there, in Florida. He was in Alabama, unhappily running operations at a timber company, where he was told, “You’re going to get severely overworked and severely underpaid for what you’re going to do, and they weren’t lying about any of it,” Zaccario said. “One day she calls me up and says, I think you’re going to find something you’ll really enjoy.”
At first he wasn’t impressed. In 2015, the year before Zaccario came on, “there wasn’t a website. If anything, there were a few videos of Jorden doing stretching. She said, ‘No, it’s really cool,’” and told him about, among other things, Gold’s patented system of restraints that aids therapists when they’re stretching clients, another unique feature of Stretch Zone.
“Jorden is the yin to the yang of the two of us. He had developed such a comprehensive product that despite how disorganized the business was around it, people were coming in. Chelsea told me what a mess the business was. That’s not his forte, nor is the science behind the stretch my forte,” Zaccario said.
By chance he met a Stretch Zone store manager on a plane, and they started talking. “I remember he told me the numbers behind the business, and I already knew about the patented system, and you could fill out costs very easily. I remember doing the math in my head saying, if he wasn’t lying as an employee, they could be sitting on something really special. The numbers checked out, and that’s kind of how the story goes, how Stretch Zone found me and I found Stretch Zone,” Zaccario said.
“You can’t help but love the guy, a good soul and good heart,” Zaccario said, referring to Gold. “I get a kick out of him and love people who dedicate their entire life to a passion, and then set aside all the trouble and turmoil he had to go through. So when you see someone that committed, it’s very easy to get behind.”
The fan club runs both ways. “He’s all business and operations and I’m all vision and science. We really work and complement each other,” said Gold, and their age difference is not an issue. “I’m 53. I’m a late bloomer.” And Zaccario is 28? “Yes, but he was born old. Such an old soul, like I can see him with a pocket square at 5.”