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Terry Diaz:  The Family Plan – On His Terms

It’s not a huge surprise that Terrence “Terry” Diaz is one of the newest Physical Therapy Now franchisees.  A career in the medical field was somewhat inevitable.  His mother is a Registered Nurse, and his father is a medical doctor, but his career didn’t exactly unfold the way his parents imagined.

Terry was a 7-year-old boy growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey when his parents announced a big change:  they were all moving to Spain so Terry’s dad could go to medical school.  His mom’s career was pretty flexible so she could find work as a nurse easily.

Terry didn’t know what to expect and knew only the most basic Spanish words.  Like any other kid, he was a little nervous about the move, but once there, he quickly adapted.

“Within two months, I was speaking fluent Spanish.  Kid’s can pick up new languages fast, and I did it, but it was because I had to.  Everyone was speaking Spanish.”

Four years later when his father finished medical school, Terry, now 11, would take that open mindset to Panama when they all moved once again.  Panama is where his father was born, and Terry had a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins there.  As expected, his mother found a job, working as an RN for the Department of Defense.

Terry quickly found his way, forming close friendships in his new city and going on to graduate high school.  He did well in school, made good grades (his parents wouldn’t have had it any other way), and learned that he is – as he puts it – “a numbers guy.”  However, despite his knack for numbers, his parents had a specific vision in mind for his future.

A Fair Shot

“My Dad really wanted me to go into medicine.  I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Terry says.

Terry gave into some subtle pressure from his mom to dabble in the medical field, even if just a little.

“She came to me one day and said, ‘look, why don’t you just do something in medicine to see what you think… something might come out of it.’ So that’s what I did.  I decided to be a paramedic.”

His short stint as a paramedic proved what Terry knew all along.

“I knew I didn’t want a career in medicine, but I more or less, I did it to please my Dad.  And I don’t regret it.  Medicine just isn’t the career path for me.”

Finding His Way

Terry decided to go his own path and made plans to move back to the states.  New Jersey was the only place he knew, so it seemed perfect.  He applied to Rutgers University, was accepted, and made a move back to his home state.


“I was only there for one year because there is a little something in New Jersey called winter,” Terry laughs.  “One year was all I lasted and then I had to go!  I went straight to the south.”

He went as far as Gainesville, Florida to The University of Florida, and in 1987, graduated with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering.  His first job out of college, ironically, was at a hospital in Miami, albeit, not practicing medicine, but rather, management… as a Management Engineer at Cedars Medical Center (now University of Miami Hospital).

Over the course of the next six years, he would move on to another hospital in Miami and continued to advance in his career, working his way up on the administrative side of the hospital as the Assistant Director of Surgery.

Then came an opportunity that would usher him in a different direction.

A New Focus

Terry explains, “The hospital wanted to transition into offering it’s patients ancillary services, like laboratories, radiology, physical therapy, genetic testing…. anything that could support the work of the physicians and medical staff, it was my job to help form the groups to make that happen.”

These service locations were set up all around the Miami-Dade area, but there was one territory in particular that didn’t make the cut.

“It was Stuart. The hospital couldn’t extend its reach to cover that specific region, but Stuart needed these ancillary services.  So, I approached the hospital with the idea of doing it on my own, and they gave me the green light.”

It was perfect because Terry had helped dozens – if not hundreds – of other people get their ancillary facilities up and running so he felt confident he could do the same thing on his own.

Water-Cooler Talk

He and a colleague decided to become businesses partners, and they too began opening ancillary service locations in the form of a mental health center, a laboratory and even an adult daycare facility.   Then, one day, there was a casual conversation with one of his employees that single-handedly changed the way he would do business for the next two decades.

“She came into the office, and she seemed kind of down. When we asked her what was wrong, she explained that her mother recently had a mini-stroke,” Terry explains. “Luckily, her mother was going to be okay, but that employee subtly mentioned that it was ironic that her job of doing ultrasounds may have helped her own mother who was asymptomatic.”

It was an eye-opening moment for Terry, and he immediately began to think of how many people he could help if only he could make getting these ancillary services more convenient.   His business focus shifted dramatically, and Terry, along with his business partner, took on an innovative business venture:  mobile units.

These bus-style vehicles would be outfitted with the ability to perform EKG’s, ultrasounds, and much more.  It was so successful that the duo sold the company in 2006.  They repurchased it in 2009, grew it to 28 buses across the nation, and sold the company once and for all in 2018.

Professionally, it was great, but now, Terry needed something else to do.

A Fresh Start

“I started looking at all kinds of franchises, and because I know healthcare from the management side, I was motivated to go in that direction.  Physical therapy specifically stood out to me because I’ve seen for myself how much it can truly improve someone’s life.”

Terry went to a franchise fair in October of 2018 and in a matter of weeks, was meeting face to face with Andy Zapata, the owner of Physical Therapy Now.

“I was extremely impressed with Andy.  I know what it takes to make a business run, and I know healthcare from the administrative and management side – but Andy offered me something different that I hadn’t ever experienced.”

Terry explains, “He has a team that is so energetic and knowledgeable, and it is so refreshing.  They are very entrepreneurial-minded, yet at the same time, Andy makes sure all the methods and systems are in place that – for other companies – can cause so many headaches when they aren’t done correctly.  Andy educates himself in every area possible and then shares that knowledge with his franchisees.  He makes sure things are done right the first time, so at Physical Therapy Now, those headaches don’t even exist.  It’s remarkable what he’s doing. To see how well he has it covered, that sold me.”

Terry is used to calling the shots himself, but on this one, is admittedly happy to default to someone else.

“I just have to keep listening to this guy more and more because – even though building businesses is what I do – Andy? This guy knows physical therapy and the business of physical therapy.”

There is one more guy from which Terry will gladly accept input.

“My father… he thinks this whole franchise is a good idea, and I’m happy about that.  He still tries to be my teacher, and he likes to tell me what therapies work best for what, and I’m like, ‘Whoa!  I’m on the management side of this!’ But all in all, my parents are proud of me, and that means a lot.”

Terry Diaz hopes to open his first Physical Therapy Now location in Hillsborough County, Florida by Summer 2019.  His future plans as a franchisee include opening many more Physical Therapy Now facilities in the Tampa Bay area over the next five years. To learn more about Physical Therapy Now, go to www.physicaltherapynow.com


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