Most people would probably agree that starting a business is no small undertaking. According to a 2011 fact sheet produced by the U.S. Small Business Administration, only 34 percent of businesses survive ten years or more. But within those discouraging statistics, there are success stories. This month, we are celebrating just a few of the O&P businesses that, like The O&P EDGE, are marking their tenth year in the industry. We asked these businesses to share a little bit about the last ten years, how they've grown, and the changes they've experienced.
1) Feet 1st Shoes
Founded: July 2002
Owner: Wade Nield, CPed
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Although Feet 1st Shoes is a single-location business, it has certainly seen its share of growth. In June 2010, Feet 1st Shoes moved from its original home to a location with about 40 percent more square feet. The new facility was "designed specifically for our purposes," says owner, Wade Nield, CPed. "The newer location has a casting room and larger lab, as well as a nice patient waiting area." Nield describes the business as a hybrid of a traditional retail store, where people are welcome to come in and purchase shoes, and a pedorthics practice, where patients who have been referred are seen on an individual appointment basis.
Nield says that the biggest change he has seen in the business and industry-wide has been in reimbursement requirements. "The last year and a half…has been much more challenging because of increased documentation that you need from the physician, including clinical notes, for providing diabetic shoes. This documentation can be difficult to obtain or explain to the referral source."
2) Independent Tech. Service
Founded: April 2002
Owners: Chad Friddle & Chad Eberhart, CTPO
Location: Sumner, Washington
Since the company's founding, Independent Tech. Service has grown from a staff of one—founder Chad Eberhart, CTPO— to a staff of three, and, according to co-owner Chad Friddle, the company hopes to add another staff member soon. Its facility, too, has grown. Friddle says that they were bursting at the seams in their original location, so in April 2010 they made the decision to move to a much larger facility.
Friddle says, "The biggest change in the last ten years has been incorporating CAD/CAM into our business. It makes practitioners' and our lives a lot easier."
3) ProCare Prosthetics and Orthotics
Founded: March 2002
Owner: S. Bret Lee, CPO
Location: Flowood, Mississippi
Since it was founded, ProCare Prosthetics and Orthotics has grown from a staff of two, which included one practitioner and one office employee, to a staff that includes two practitioners (one of whom focuses solely on pediatric orthoses), one certified prosthetic assistant, an office manager, a business manager, and several part-time employees, including a college intern who aspires to become a certified prosthetist-orthotist, according to Preston Lee, Esq., business manager. The business has grown physically as well, changed its methods somewhat to accommodate that growth, and has expanded its services from offering only prosthetic devices to now providing a balance of prosthetic and orthotic care. Almost all fabrication continues to be done in-house.
Lee says, "We have moved to expanded and improved locations twice over the years to accommodate steady increases in the volume of business, and to be in a more medically oriented area. Our scope of practice has changed from traveling to remote towns, hospitals, and patients' homes throughout Mississippi, to primarily seeing patients in a clinical setting at our office in Flowood."
4) SRT Prosthetics & Orthotics
Founded: January 2002
Owner: Sam Santa-Rita, CP, LP
Location: Bryan, Ohio
From its beginning as a two-office operation, SRT Prosthetics & Orthotics now includes seven patient care facilities. According to owner Sam Santa-Rita, CP, LP, staffing has increased to more than 30 employees, including a golf professional and a maintenance person.
Santa-Rita says, "The biggest change I have observed [in the last ten years] is the adversarial relationship between providers and payers. Instead of working together to contain costs and simultaneously increase patient outcomes, organizations have become shortsighted."
5) Stellar Prosthetics & Orthotics
Founded: February 2002
Owner: Sean Stellar, CPO
Location: Pasadena, California
Stellar Prosthetics & Orthotics began operations in a 1,300-sq.- ft. space in Pasadena and has grown into its current 5,500-sq.- ft. main patient care facility. In addition to increasing the size of its main location, Stellar P&O has opened an office in Upland, California, and according to owner Sean Stellar, CPO, the company is looking at the possibility of opening a location in Los Alamitos, California. This growth has necessitated an increase in staff as well. Stellar says, "We began with just the two of us and now we have 11 staff members."
Stellar says that overall the business has not changed much since it opened, although they dispense fewer "soft goods" now than when they first started, and, "of course, we continue to stay at the cutting-edge of technology while balancing that with a commitment to customer service."
6) Tindal Orthotics & Prosthetics
Founded: April 2002
Owner: Bobby G. Tindal, BOCO
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
According to owner Bobby Tindal, BOCO, Tindal Orthotics & Prosthetics began as a moonlighting operation, seeing patients in the evening. From that time, it has grown to occupy a 4,000-sq.-ft. patient care facility with six employees. Tindal says, "Our community had nothing like this when we started, and everyone had to travel nearly 100 miles to receive O&P services in Topeka or Kansas City. We now have people traveling to our facility from Topeka and Kansas City to receive our services."
The biggest change Tindal O&P has undergone, according to Tindal, has been the versatility and the array of services and products the company has been able to provide. They use what he deems to be the best off-site fabrication facilities when needed. He says, "We now do most of our fabrication on-site and have reduced our turnaround time below industry standards. We also utilize OPIE software… to manage our billing, pull reports to measure our process and growth, and remain compliant with the ever-changing healthcare requirements…."
Editor's note: We regret that space does not allow us to include all of the orthotic, prosthetic, and pedorthic patient care facilities that are celebrating ten years in business. This article provides a representative sample only. If your business is celebrating its tenth anniversary, please e-mail , and we may include you in an upcoming issue of EDGE Direct.