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Top Performing Franchise Owners Honored at Elements Massage™ Conference in Vegas

Aug 24, 2015

Awards Ceremony Recognizes Best Performing Studios, Growth, Contributors and Entrepreneurship Among Nation's 200-Plus Therapeutic Massage Studios

Press Release

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo., (August 25, 2015) – National Franchise Elements Massage™ (Elements), celebrated the best of the best at its annual awards ceremony Wednesday evening in Las Vegas. Hundreds of franchise owners gathered at the Venetian Palazzo Resort to honor their peers and elevate the brand during a three-day conference. The achievements of many in the Elements system have made the business one of the most successful franchised massage brands in the United States.

“For a brand that has succeeded to the level of Elements, we have no shortage of great franchise owners in which to honor," says John Kutac, COO of WellBiz Brands Inc., parent company of Elements Therapeutic Massage, Inc., and franchisor of the Elements brand. "These awards were earned by each individual through hard work and a commitment to be great. They are one of the biggest reasons Elements is number one is customer satisfaction around the nation."*

The highest honor went to John Pantera, of East Longmeadow, Mass., who was awarded the Revenue Cup for highest single studio revenue in 2014. Pantera generated more than $1.1 million in sales in 2014.

“I am honored to accept this award, and I am so proud of my amazing team," says Pantera. "This is their award, truly. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with simple exceptional people, and this is the result. Being a part of the Elements network has been so much fun, and I am humbled to have won the Revenue Cup among such talented owners.”

Don Gatzemeier received the "Franchisee of the Year" award for multiple achievements that included the highest percentage of growth from 2013 to 2014. The multi-studio owner excelled in many key performance areas, adhered to brand standards, shared best practices with the system, and performed as an overall all-star and brand ambassador for the franchise. A former engineer from NASA, Gatzemeier welcomed 200 to 300 new clients each month and has 331 new members.

“Customer satisfaction has really been key for our studios," says Gatzemeier. "We really work hard at meeting or exceeding our clients' expectations.”

"Strongest Opening" was awarded to Lisa and Darrick Zucco for their ability to open three studios in less than one calendar year in Ohio. The Zucco's raised the bar in studio openings, attracting 250 new client trials each month and signing up 320 new clients, providing the most massages and ringing up the most sales for a start-up. The couple opened all three studios in the Dayton and Columbus areas starting in June 2014 and now employ more than 60 people.

"We couldn't have done it without our staff," says Lisa Zucco. "They worked so hard to get us here and we thank them so much for this incredible year."

Companies are lucky to have individuals who go beyond the call of duty to help others and strengthen their brand. Colleen O'Connor, of Louisville East, has been named "Greatest Contributor" for her continuing efforts to promote Elements. O'Connor is always available and is constantly reaching out to help her colleagues, participating in events, webinars and other initiatives that support the company.

"I really love what I do," says O'Connor. "The best thing about Elements is the people and it's really an honor to be awarded for contributing to a brand I feel so passionate about."

One of the key components to studio success is the manager, who generally runs the day-to-day operations of the studio. To be considered for "Manager of the Year," recipients must be nominated by franchise owners for their overall contributions to the success of the studio and the Elements brand. This year's recipient is Nicole Opperman, of Castle Rock, Colo., who helped grow the studio's membership by 400 percent, while managing 800 members and 1,000 clients every month. With only four massage rooms, Opperman is able to successfully coordinate more than 250 massages in every room each month, while providing exceptional customer service and care for her clients and colleagues. When one of her therapists had to undergo brain surgery last year, Opperman sent meals to the therapist's home and made sure employees signed cards that were delivered to her home every week.

"We have a really great team, here, and they motivate me to do what I do," says Opperman. "The owner, Kristin Adams, is just amazing. We think a lot alike and I really look up to her. I just can't believe how much we've been able to accomplish this year."

Finally, the "Rising Star" award goes to Andrew Kardas, of Portland, Ore., Kardas earned the honor for his year-to-year revenue and membership growth from 2013 to 2014 and for converting the largest number of new members into the Elements Wellness Program™. Kardas generated $552,785 in sales, representing a 78-percent growth over 2013. He also added 231 new members in 2014.

"I was shocked when I found out our studio won this award! I knew that we had a good year but I had no idea that we were in the running for this." says Pantera. "We've got a great team and location, and it means a lot for all of us to be recognized for our efforts. Going forward, I'm focusing on re-energizing our team and getting all the pieces in place to make this studio meet its full potential."

These outstanding individuals are among the reasons revenues were up 37-percent system-wide and 33 new studios were opened in 2014. Elements is on track for adding 35-40 new studios in 2015, and will enter the international market with studios in Canada.

Elements Massage™ ranked No. 340 on the 2014 Franchise Times Top 200 List. Additionally, Elements Massage™ was recently included in Entrepreneur magazine’s 2015 Franchise 500® ranking, positioned at No. 208. Elements Massage™ was most recently featured on the 2015 Franchise Times’ Fast and Serious list positioned at No. 20, showcasing the smartest-growing brands.

*Highest-rated claims based on Net Promoter® scores from 2014 market research.

WellBiz Brands, Inc. is headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is one of the largest health and wellness companies in the United States. The company owns three separate franchise entities: Elements Therapeutic Massage, Inc., which franchises massage studios, providing custom therapeutic massage to meet clients’ needs, Fitness Together Franchise Corporation, which franchises one-on-one and semi-private group personal training studios, and Fit 36, Inc., which franchises high intensity interval training studios, with workouts done as a group.

Fitness Together Franchise Corporation began franchising in 1996 and has approximately 175 Fitness Together® locations across the United States. Elements Therapeutic Massage, Inc. began franchising in 2006 and has approximately 205 Elements Massage™ locations in 34 states. Fit 36, Inc. began franchising in 2014 and has a single FIT36™ location in downtown Denver.

For more information about Elements Massage™, visit For more information about Fitness Together®, visit For more information on FIT36™ visit

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