By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Sports have always been a big part of the Bonczek family. Joe was a high school and college swimmer and distance runner, and his wife, Annette, has a couple of NCAA Division III softball national championship rings from her time at Trenton State College back in the 1980s. Their son, also named Joe, is a junior at St. Augustine Prep and one of the top linebackers in South Jersey.
They all love a challenge, so much so that a few years ago the elder Joe and some of his buddies actually ran with the bulls in Spain. He and partner Pete Scordo, who teamed up with Joe and Annette to start Spectrum Fitness & Rehabilitation in Northfield in 2002, wanted to recognize bringing on John Bernal as another partner in an unconventional way.
“When we made John a partner, we celebrated by going to Spain to run with the bulls. It was hysterical. We had the time of our lives,” Joe said. “Literally, the streets are as wide as an average bedroom, and you’re running with 2,000 people and 12 bulls. It was a life-changing experience. For the most part, the bulls don’t want to run into you, but if you get in their way, they’ll take you down.”
Joe, Annette and Pete all worked together at Star Rehabilitation in Linwood before striking out on their own 15 years ago, and since then Spectrum has grown to include multiple locations in three counties, and Annette and Pete’s wife, Alyssa, now own Miracles Fitness, which is part of the Northfield rehab center at 2300 New Road. The Bonczeks and Scordos have combined their respective talents and passions to create a highly successful rehabilitation business.
“Pete and I met in 1998, and we started our own company in 2002. We were afraid, initially, to take a leap of faith and just go cold turkey jumping in, so we started this as a side business after hours and on weekends. We kept our full-time jobs for about a year, but we got so busy that we realized we needed to give this our full attention to help it grow,” Joe said. “Luckily, the start-up costs weren’t huge because we did all home visits, so all we needed was a car and a cell phone. Once we started investing in outpatient centers, that’s when the costs really went up.”
Eventually, the group bought the building they have now in Northfield in 2011, and about four years ago they added Miracles Fitness to their offered services. Miracles is geared toward people 30 and older who don’t necessarily want to go to a big gym, or perhaps don’t feel comfortable in such a setting.
“We run the whole spectrum, that’s why we named our company Spectrum Rehab. We’ll treat young kids — we actually have therapists who work in the schools under contract — we work with kids coming off sports injuries, we work with adults who maybe hurt their back working; we deal with people who have had motor vehicle injuries, broken ankles. We work with older patients — we have one who is 104 years old — and we work on them with balance, or people who have knee or shoulder replacements,” Joe said. “This is about building relationships. When we worked at Star Rehab, we worked with a lot of nurses, social workers and case managers who have spread out into different areas, and we have very good connections with them, so they are willing to refer to us. And we have great relationships with local orthopedic groups. So, it’s about relationships and it’s about service. We are family oriented. If you do what you say you are going to do, and do it well, I think you’re always going to be busy.”
Joe said he never imagined Spectrum would grow into the kind of company that has multiple locations and more than 20 people on staff.
“I have a lot of faith in myself, and I have a lot of faith in God, and I feel like hard work pays off. I preach that to my kids. I knew we would do well, but I didn’t know it would get to this level. I would have been happy if we had five or six people working with us, and we had a good niche in Atlantic County. But I didn’t know we were going to grow into other counties,” Joe said. “Cape May County is huge for us. As we got going, we realized there was a huge void in Cape May because there weren’t a lot of big companies that were doing the kind of work we do.”
Working together with friends and spouses isn’t always the easiest way to build a successful business, but Joe said the group has made it work by always being open and honest with each other, and working through disagreements quickly.
“My wife and I have a fantastic marriage. We have a lot in common and we try to teach our kids the right way to live, to be good citizens and people, and Pete is the same way with his wife, Alyssa,” he said. “I’m not going to say we’ve never had any arguments, but Pete and I have been running the business for 15 years and I can honestly say we’ve never had a disagreement that we couldn’t resolve within a day or two. We see eye-to-eye on so many things. We say it in our personal lives and in our business, ‘what have we done today to make ourselves better today?’”