Greco Fitness eyes expansion, gains strength with new investment

Ottawa-based Greco Fitness says it’s poised for a significant expansion with the help of major additional investment and a new management team.


By Jacob Serebrin 


The deal with New York-based investment firm Integrity Square, which invests in health, fitness and outdoors companies, as well as other investors was announced this week.

It will see David Fowler, who was previously an operating executive at Integrity Square, lead Greco’s new management team.

Mr. Fowler says he was impressed with the founders of Greco Fitness, Tony Greco and Paolo Fiorin, and their approach as well as the company’s place in the market.

“I love the boutique sector,” Mr. Fowler said in an interview with OBJ. “It’s growing at 400 per cent in the (United States). It’s all about quality, it’s all about member experience.”

Greco currently has 14 locations in Ottawa and one in Toronto. A location in Laval, Que., is scheduled to open soon.

The company is eyeing further expansion in Toronto, Quebec and the Northeast region of the United States and expects to open another eight franchises in the near future.

In particular, it’s looking to expand into cities with NHL teams, where it can leverage Mr. Greco’s history of training professional hockey players and his continued connections with players and coaches. NHLers who have worked with Mr. Greco include Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers, Nashville’s Mike Fisher, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and recently retired Senators defenceman Chris Phillips.

The deal with Integrity Square allows Greco Fitness to add more expertise to its board, Mr. Fowler said. The firm has invested in about 30 fitness-related companies.

“Every single day, this is all they do,” Mr. Fowler said. “The boutique sector is a big part of their portfolio on the consulting and leadership side as well.”

There will also be experts in franchising on the board.

Mr. Greco remains the largest shareholder in the company and will sit on the board of directors as well as act as a brand ambassador.

“There’s no doubt that we wanted both Tony and Paolo to be actively involved in the company,” Mr. Fowler said.

The company’s co-founder, Mr. Fiorin, who also remains a shareholder, will run the day-to-day business at the Greco Fitness location on Beech Street.

“To be a great franchisor, one of the things you want to do is have great training for the franchisees, both new and existing,” Mr. Fowler said.

The Beech Street location will provide a platform for that training as well as a place for the company to test new technology, products and classes.

Mr. Greco says he’s happy with the deal.

“It looks fantastic because I have a president, David Fowler, who has amazing experience in the fitness industry and a great team behind us. What that does for me is it allows me to be an ambassador and further the brand, which is to help people transform their bodies, lift their spirits and strengthen their minds,” he said.

Mr. Fowler, who has had a long career as an executive with fitness brands including Gold’s Gym, Equinox and Crunch, brings operations experience and will help give the company more structure as it grows, Mr. Greco said.

“This business was built on passion and sweat and really didn’t have that actual structure,” he said.

Details of the investment, including the amount, were not disclosed.