A Conversation With Entrepreneur John Gallucci, Jr.

By Alexandra Anastasio | Photography by Neil J Tandy
Photographed on location at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York


In the world of physical therapy, where innovation meets healing, one name stands out: JAG Physical Therapy (formerly JAG-ONE Physical Therapy). With over 140 locations, they are one of the fastest-growing comprehensive physical and occupational therapy practices across the Northeast.

Founded almost 20 years ago by John Gallucci Jr., President and CEO, the business has grown tremendously, recently expanding to all five of New York City’s boroughs, completing JAG’s footprint as the premier physical therapy provider for New York City.

Throughout his career, Gallucci has received numerous honors, including being recognized as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner and by ROI-NJ as one of the top 20 influencers in healthcare. For the fourth year in a row, Inc. 5000 included JAG in their list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. 

Drawing upon his lifelong passion for helping others, John Gallucci, Jr.’s journey to being a resource for others began as a child within the family business. “Since I was a young boy and into my teenage years, I wanted to help people,” says Gallucci. “Today, I am 100 percent living
my dream.”  

His parents owned a medical supply service store in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and from the countless relationships his father built, he and his brother Mario were given a first-hand look at what it meant to be of service to others. “Dad built this unbelievable work ethic. It gave me the experience at 13 years old to walk into a variant of different service lines of physical therapy and see pretty much all different pathologies, illness, and disease,” explains Gallucci. 

These opportunities sparked a lifelong passion to be a resource for people from all walks of life with all types of issues and injuries. From professional athletes to everyday people, Gallucci’s vision was for everybody to be treated the same way and be able to obtain the same outcome.

“At JAG, we have a mini-mission statement that everybody is treated like a professional athlete,” says Gallucci. “We take their goals, and we work to help them meet those goals. That’s what helped metamorphosis into the success that we see today.”

The road to success, though, wasn’t always smooth, and the personal struggles Gallucci met head-on along his path have shaped him into the man he is today. Along with running a successful business, Gallucci, a married father of two, is also a published author, releasing his third and most personal book, The JAG Method, on October 10th. In it, he draws on his experiences as an entrepreneur and shares stories that aim to inspire those facing similar situations. A strong desire to give back is deeply ingrained in Gallucci’s character and has been a guiding light throughout his life. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with Gallucci for an in-depth conversation on his entrepreneurial journey.  

Could you provide some insight into your initial experiences in sports physical therapy, where you began your career working closely with athletes? Early on, opportunities in my career were because of my mentor, Richard Giordano, a physical therapist for the New York Rangers, who introduced me as a student athletic trainer and physical therapist to the elite level of athletics.

I was a wrestler and a baseball player and played at the high school [Monsignor Farrell] club level, so I was around athletes my entire life. The experience with the New York Rangers to see the interaction at the highest level, introduced me to wanting to stay at that level.

The early days with Rich, at the highest level of athletics, helped me nurture the young athletes to understand the benefits of taking care of their bodies and, more specifically, injury prevention.  

The early days with Rich, at the highest level of athletics, helped me nurture the young athletes to understand the benefits of taking care of their bodies and, more specifically, injury prevention.
The work ethic component my parents taught me was especially important. Some of their mistakes in running a business led me to navigate my own business to understand you always have to be looking for the next thing.

When we look at the definition of an entrepreneur, people like to say it’s a definition of being able to take risks in business. I think, at times, many people want to operate on a safety net and are afraid of what’s next. My parents taught me, both in the positives and negatives, that it’s okay to make a mistake and fail, but how do you get back up, change your plan, and then be able to execute for success? The lesson of my parents’ unfortunate demise in their business taught me that I had to evolve as an entrepreneur and a student of healthcare continually and ensure I stayed within or ahead of the curve.

You’ve previously spoken about how your wife has been a source of inspiration for you. How has Dawn contributed to your journey as an entrepreneur? When I was 14, I told my best friend I would marry Dawn Gargano. At 18 years old, we started dating, and we took our personal goals and collaborated that into our goals as a couple. Throughout our 33 years of marriage and 39 years together, she always reminds me of the goals we set together when we were 18 and has motivated me in good times and bad to stick to the focus.

We’re very family-oriented as well as community-oriented. We try to give back to the community as much as possible. My lucky charm is Dawn and our two children, Stephanie and Charles. They keep me grounded and motivated to continue progressing for our entire family.

Your career trajectory has consistently been about establishing a solid foundation. Is this step-by-step approach crucial for attaining success?
People look at titles instead of lessons that will give them longevity and sustainability within their professional careers. I’ve worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. People forget that you need to start at the bottom to learn the lessons. You can continue your drive to be at the top, and you can continue to drive to work for success, but you need to learn all the jobs because you can’t lead unless you understand the sweat and tears. 

If you look at JAG right now, there isn’t a role I haven’t had. I’ve worn multiple hats as an entrepreneur, and I appreciate every day what my employees do because I’ve done it. I believe in the premise that we started years ago that JAG must be a good employer by offering employees an opportunity for personal, professional, and financial success. We’ve failed as an employer if we don’t give these three pathways. That’s what I mean by foundation.  

You’ve shared your educational journey, from overcoming initial rejection by clinical schools to earning multiple degrees. Did you contemplate a different path, or was your determination unwavering?
In my journey, I’ve done multiple things to make ends meet. When I was 19 years old, Mom and Dad fell into tough times, and for me to put myself through college, I needed to work multiple jobs.  

I’ve taught my children and try to teach my employees a true path—you only go through one time, and nobody should ever tell you no. When I found out I had received poor grades in two of my classes, which was holding me back from following my path. I thought it was ridiculous that I was being told no. So, I went back, took the classes over, did well, and was accepted. My team will tell you, the last thing you can ever tell me in a meeting is no.  

Your new book, The JAG Method, differs slightly from your last two. What led you to sit down and tell your story?
I’ve had the opportunity and honor to go around and tell my story, and every time I’m giving a lecture, I’ve given little tidbits of things that changed my life. 

I was delayed at the airport on my way back from a conference, so I started to doodle some of those stories. I told Kayla George, Chief Marketing Officer for JAG, that I’d love to share these, but I don’t want to make this a seven-day read. I want people to take one, two, three pearls from it and help motivate those who are going through a
tough time. 

What key insights do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?
Everybody has a story to tell. We’ve all been in situations where we weren’t at our best. Maybe we failed. My goal was to share a glimpse of my story and teach people that while everybody has their own story, how you respond matters most. Don’t let it define you. Build on it.  

In the book, you have a chapter dedicated to the significance of mentors you’ve had. How did your mentors contribute to your personal and professional development?
Sam Feather was inspirational. He worked hard, and every time I would deliver supplies to his office, he taught me something. The next time I returned, Sam would ask me questions about what he taught me previously. 

Then there is Rich, my cousin. I am very fortunate to have him in my life. We all have that family member who motivates the kids, and Rich was the person who took an interest in all the kids. He gave people a sense of purpose. When I was 16, he asked me about college and what I would study. I told him I liked physical therapy, and he asked if I knew what he did. I thought he was just the cousin who put together the touch tackle games in the backyard. He was also a physical therapist. 

The summer I turned 17, I moved in with him and his family and went to work with him every day. The more I did it, the more I loved it. At the end of the summer, he said, “I think you’d make an awesome physical therapist,” and I haven’t been out of a clinic since. Rich is still a big part of JAG and my family.

Next month, The Valerie Fund is set to honor you and your wife. Tell us about this organization you are deeply involved with.
The Valerie Fund is a program of psycho-social interactive services for children and families afflicted with cancer and blood disorders. 

We were introduced to them after our son, at 18 months old, had a seizure that caused his heart and lungs to stop functioning. I immediately started CPR and got him to the ER. As we speak, he is now a thriving academic athlete attending Lehigh University. 

Shortly after that experience, we wanted to do something for the community that combined cancer and pediatrics. We were introduced to the Executive Director, Barry Kirschner, and President Joe Mangione, two passionate and compassionate people. We started what is now a 16-year relationship, and Dawn and I are privileged to be named honorees at their upcoming Thanksgiving Ball on November 17th. 

The company is rebranding from JAG-ONE to JAG Physical Therapy. What prompted the transition?
This business decision is to simplify our brand presence in the community we serve. Everyone was calling us JAG (for short), so we figured, let’s listen and adapt. Fun fact: That was the original company I started, JAG, named after me, John Anthony Gallucci. 

Describe your journey to date in one word.

For more information on John Gallucci and JAG Physical Therapy, visit