The Story of HawkGrips Founding
A FASCINATING TWIST OF FATE
Frank “Oz” Osborne
HawkGrips President and Founder Frank “Oz” Osborne tackles each day with passionate initiative. It’s just his way. At only 22 years old and fresh out of college, he started buying downtrodden properties for renovation and rental. Tirelessly driven, he also worked long hours as a pharmaceutical sales representative at the same time, but that job failed to inspire him.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur,” he relates. “My sales job helped pay the bills for a while, but I was a lot more enthusiastic about my property business.”
In those heady days of his early 20s, as life stretched out ahead with myriad possibilities, Osborne’s sense of risk and adventure unfortunately got him into some trouble. But in a fascinating twist of fate, a devastating skiing accident that almost killed him also propelled Osborne down the path to founding HawkGrips, the premier company in instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM).
It was 1997 when he and a coworker bought season passes to ski after work in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. “Prior to that, I had never skied at all,” Osborne recalls. “So we’d hit the slopes about 8:00 at night, and although the snow had usually turned into a sheet of ice by then, I started improving quickly.”
Then it happened.
Then on Jan. 14, after we’d only been skiing for a few days, I decided to try the double-black diamond slope geared toward experts. You’re supposed to shift from side to side when skiing, but since I was young and stupid at the time, I just went straight down the slope. Realizing quickly that I was out of control, my reaction was to just fall intentionally in the hope it would stop my momentum. That’s the last thing I remember.”
Osborne later discovered that he skidded wildly across the treacherous ice toward rocks on the side of the slope and crashed into a tree. Knocked out cold, he awoke to the urgent voice of a ski medic kneeling over him.
“I had no idea what was happening,” says Osborne. “But when I looked at his hands, I noticed they were covered in blood. My blood. I still had no pain whatsoever because my body was in shock. Then the medic asked if I could move my arms and legs, and that was probably the scariest moment of my life because I didn’t know the answer.”
As soon as he tried to move, a massive bolt of pain shot through Osborne’s entire body. He was immobilized and medevaced to the Thomas Jefferson University spinal trauma center in Philadelphia because of injuries so catastrophic they couldn’t be handled by the local hospital. This extensive damage included a broken neck and back, left-wrist crush fracture, broken left forearm, torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders, ruptured right biceps, nerve injuries emanating down to both feet, and various other torn ligaments and muscles throughout his body.
Frank discovered IASTM.
Over the next decade, Osborne underwent almost 30 surgeries. During his healing and recovery process, he was referred to nearly every method of rehabilitation known to mankind, including physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, ultrasound and electrical stimulation, along with alternative interventions like cupping, Gua Sha, Rolfing, acupuncture and even bee-sting therapy.
“This was pre-Facebook so a lot of people didn’t know the accident happened, and probably still don’t,” Osborne relates. “Even my friends and family didn’t realize how much back and neck pain I still felt years afterward. I could get around OK and nothing appeared wrong to the casual observer, but I was very tight and restricted. Although most of the different types of therapy I tried provided a little relief, nothing was the panacea I hoped for.”
Then in March 2008, Osborne saw a story on the local news about Graston Technique utilizing IASTM at Dresher Physical Therapy in the Philadelphia area. Although this technique had existed for years, Osborne never heard of it before. The clinic wasn’t very close to where he lived, but on the chance this treatment could make a difference, Osborne immediately scheduled an appointment.
“From the accident until that point, I had gotten into the habit of parking away from other cars so I could pull straight out, because I couldn’t turn my head and back to look behind me,” Osborne remembers. “So basically for 11 years, I wasn’t able to look over my shoulder. Then in my first appointment at Dresher, the owner Matt Seabrook worked on me with the Graston tools. After only about a minute, I could move my head up, down, right and left. Then after another couple minutes, I kept turning my head to the left until I looked over my shoulder for the first time in more than a decade. I was amazed and said, “This is unbelievable!’”
Frustrated to learn quality instruments were not widely available.
Osborne exuberantly contacted the Graston company that same day, intending to buy a set of tools so he could take them to clinics closer to his home and receive treatment. But he soon became disappointed that his enthusiasm wasn’t reciprocated by the Graston representative.
“I was informed that they only sell their products to chiropractors, PTs, ATCs, and other clinicians. So then I offered to buy a set for one of my clinician friends, but I was told that clinicians were required to go through Graston’s proprietary certification/education program.”
Inquiring about the courses, Osborne learned the next two were in different parts of the country and already sold out. He then suggested that Graston offer more courses, but again was met with a lack of enthusiasm and adaptability from the representative.
“When the conversation ended, I felt dejected,” he recalls. “To me, they had this great product but it really needed to be more accessible.”
Over the next few months, Osborne ordered several different IASTM tools online. But when he asked clinicians to treat him with these products, nothing approached the effectiveness of the Graston tools. Seeking answers, Osborne again reached out to the Graston company.
“I was frustrated and confused about why I couldn’t buy Graston tools even though there was no problem with obtaining competitor products. So I asked if they had some type of FDA approval or medical-device classification that put them in a different category from other IASTM products. All I received were one-word answers and a general lack of assistance, then I got hung up on. It was a discouraging experience and from a patient’s perspective, I believed having such an effective modality withheld just seemed wrong. So I wanted to do something that would make effective IASTM treatment more accessible and help other people like me.”
Creating the perfect instruments.
Thus began Osborne’s journey to founding HawkGrips. Over the next four years, he devoted every ounce of energy to launching a new kind of IASTM company, one that not only provided the best products but also peerless customer service.
Gaining insight from some of the best clinicians in the world, he prototyped and tested countless instrument designs. With a focus on optimal edge geometry and superior grips, Osborne worked tirelessly to create instruments that were both highly effective and comfortable, so clinicians could preserve the most precious tools of all – their hands.
Today, HawkGrips has grown into the foremost IASTM company in the world. Our excellent products are proudly used by premier health systems like Mayo Clinic and The Johns Hopkins Hospital, countless professional sports organizations, elite military units including the Navy SEALS and Army Delta Force, and even the White House medical staff.
A vision to elevate the entire industry.
But Osborne didn’t stop at creating the finest IASTM products. He knew that just as practitioners are only as good as their instruments, so too are instruments only as good as the clinicians utilizing them. That’s why he was also determined to implement the most current and comprehensive IASTM educational curriculum in the world. By partnering with and hiring the best IASTM instructors, Osborne has helped create a massive global network of enthusiastic HawkGrips-certified practitioners. These clinicians are only too happy to spread the word about the great impact HawkGrips have made on their patients and practices, while substantially reducing the hand fatigue so common among rehabilitation professionals.
From his own near-death experience and frustrating but educational odyssey as a patient, Osborne has spearheaded a worldwide IASTM movement. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are healing better and faster, sometimes amazingly so, thanks to HawkGrips.