Jason Kraus, president and chief operating officer of Apex Foot Health Industries, doesn’t mince words when describing the aesthetics of therapeutic footwear.
“They have looked stodgy and clunky…” he paused, then added, “We have to create universally attractive shoes that people want to wear.”
Apex aims to be not just the performance leader, but also the style leader in the category.
To that end, the 70-year old brand that OHI acquired in 2015 has been experiencing a considerable makeover. Kraus said that after getting a handle on service and supply chain issues, this was a major step in repositioning the company.
“Our legacy has been in therapeutic shoes for diabetics,” Kraus explained. “And that’s still important. But let’s face it: we are all getting older. If we don’t wear the proper shoes, we are inviting future problems. We want to appeal to those interested in wellness, even if their health is not currently comprised.”
So Apex is building shoes that anyone would want to wear: great looking, good for you, and well constructed with high-performance materials.
In April 2016, Apex rolled out a collection of six new styles of footwear, including boat shoes and hiking boots with a contemporary look, as well as colorful and attractive knit shoes. (All meet requirements for diabetic footwear.)
“These are styles for more active consumers, which is a great compliment to our traditional therapeutic footwear,” said Kraus. “And because sizing is critical, three layers of removable insoles help enormously with getting a customized fit.”
— Jason Kraus, Apex president and COO
The customer response has been gratifying.
“Our new styles, along with our significantly refreshed marketing materials, have been well received,” said Kraus. “Sales are the measure we use for acceptance, and some styles have been virtually flying off the shelves. We can’t keep them in inventory.”
Bolstered by the initial success, Kraus said the trend of adding a half dozen or more styles each year will continue through 2017.
Building innovation into inserts, shoes and socks
Medical literature is replete with studies that identify characteristics of footwear for people with balance deficiencies. Some features should be avoided, while others can enhance stability. In June 2017, Apex will roll out the Moore Balance Shoe, designed by Apex with input from Moore Balance Brace developer Jonathon Moore, DPM. It is exclusive to Apex and echoes parent company OHI’s overall commitment to fall risk mitigation.
Kraus is excited as he describes the impact that this shoe can have in terms of patient compliance, since the shoe can easily accommodate the volume of a brace. He noted, though, that the Moore Balance Shoe can be worn with or without the Moore Balance Brace.
“This is a massive opportunity for our market,” Kraus said. “Not everyone with a balance deficit needs a brace, but lots of people can benefit from a shoe like this.”
2016 also saw the launch of DynaFlange, a patented, prefabricated orthotic designed by Jay Segel, DPM, which features an extraordinarily unique design.
“It’s both a radical approach and a radical look that provides people with a dynamic solution to a dynamic problem,” said Kraus. “DynaFlange controls foot motion, offers energy return, increases postural efficiency, enhances shock absorption and reduces impact forces. Patients have responded very favorably.”
The company is also pumped that units of the military’s Special Forces is testing another prefabricated device with proprietary technology for field and combat usage.
“You can adjust the comfort level via tension in the arch, which makes it ideal when carrying, or offloading a massively heavy pack,” said Kraus.
In addition, Apex will be introducing a new sock program in April that will be helpful for at-risk diabetic patients. Copper Cloud socks offer a host of features proven to be beneficial to the foot health of diabetic patients, including moisture wicking, a cushioned sole and a cushioned and reinforced arch. The addition of copper into the fibers is said to improve circulation and promote softer skin. Copper also possesses antimicrobial qualities that reduce foot odor.
A great deal of planning and development has paved the way for Apex in 2017, and Kraus is bullish on the opportunities this offers practitioners and patients alike.
Article sponsored by Apex Foot Health Industries.