How Grit, Determination, and Hard Work Birthed Hero Barbell

October 10, 2023 by
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It was 2017, and Frank Savarese, a former collegiate baseball player and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, met Greg Spillane and Mike Butler. The three men came together on dusty Rancho Bernardo community softball field five, where they all coached their kids in softball. The guys hit it off immediately, bonding over their love of CrossFit and athletics in general. 

2020, COVID, and the California quarantine orders closely followed, and the three families decided to quarantine together. Maintaining their fitness was important to the men. The guys got to work on putting together a solid home gym, and for anyone who remembers, barbells were tough to find in the time of COVID. 

One day, Spillane had an idea. 

He suggested the guys start their own barbell company.  

  • Savarese remembers: “What we really wanted to create was the brand behind the barbell, for CrossFitters, by CrossFitters.”

Butler and Savarese placated their friend, nodded their heads, and decided to sleep on it. Early the next morning, Savarese got a call.

  • “Greg called us, and he had found a bunch of sample bars…that quickly.”
  • “He found manufacturers, ordered demo bars and specifications, and got them all shipped to the house. He said we would look at them and go from there.”

It became a true passion project, with the men not only concentrating on a great product but an even better brand identity. 

  • “We started designing everything and building the roots behind the company–envisioning supply chain and logistics and figuring out the partners that will help us along our way. Eventually, we got it all together, and we hit the market in February of 2021.”

The goal for HERO barbells was to stand proud as a self-funded startup and start on a journey to redefine the barbell landscape.

Being completely self-funded, HERO was able to start with just five SKUs – they went with five men’s barbells, and the sales took off quickly. 

HERO started making appearances at competitions, and the most feedback came from women who wanted their own bar. The company signed Andrea Nisler as HERO’s first major athlete and began manufacturing women’s barbells.

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No matter the barbell, the specs are the same. 

  • Savarese describes the product: “They are all IWF specs–needle bearing bars, eight needle bearings total, four per side, plus a bushing on each side. And now all of them are Cerakote-coated bars.”
  • “Cerakote provides long-lasting protection, and a bearing bar promotes fast and free spin.”

HERO has steadily expanded, both in products and athlete representation. 

Shortly after Nisler came aboard, they signed Tim Paulson, and most recently, Colton Mertens joined the party. The company remains self-funded, with the guys yet to take a salary while putting everything they make back into the business.

  • Savarese: “We’re doing that because of our commitment to see the company continue to succeed.”

As CrossFit continues to grow, so do the companies within the CrossFit space. And Savarese believes that all the brands can “coexist symbiotically in the space.”

  • “When you look at CrossFit as a community, you see direct competition, but in the end, right when the competition is over, everybody hugs, and everybody comes together, and everybody grows stronger. That’s how I feel about the different brands in the space. That’s what drove me to CrossFit to begin with. Because I believed in the community and the fact that like everybody can be their own person.”

As HERO Barbell looks to the future, they are searching for accredited investors who share their vision. 

The company began as a self-funded venture, but they understand that more growth requires additional resources. Those interested in more information on investing should contact Frank Savarese.

All Hero Barbell Co. orders will receive 10% off in October, use the code HEROFAM1

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