More than a century ago, a German shoemaker named Heinrich Berkemann started a footwear company with a simple principle: create comfortable and attractive products. Although much has changed over the decades, the principles he established years ago are still alive and well in his legacy, PediFix, located in Brewster, NY.
One hundred thirty years is a long time for any company to remain in business— let alone in family hands. But that’s exactly what PediFix has done. Berkemann’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have carried his pioneering spark into their passion for crafting innovative footcare products. Today, great-grandsons Chris, Dennis, and Jon Case run the business.
“We think of our company as a family heirloom,” said PediFix CEO Jon Case. “We’re flattered by the many offers to acquire us, but prefer to keep providing personalized service to our many customers— large and small—and supporting medical footcare providers who helped us become what we are today.”
While the company upholds its timehonored family traditions, it’s also poised on the cutting edge of the podiatric and orthopedic industries. Today, Berkemann would be proud that PediFix is one of the most successful and enduring footcare companies in the world. But he could not have dreamed of the technological advances that have made PediFix a household name internationally, Case said.
“The essence of our company mission has always been to help as many people as we can,” said Chris Case, PediFix’s chief marketing officer. “That’s why we invent and develop great products and make them readily available to the patients who need them.”
PediFix’s product range has evolved greatly from its early days of manufacturing wooden and leather shoes. The innovations introduced by PediFix chronicle the evolution of footcare and related pedorthic technology. Here’s a partial timeline:
• In the 1950s, PediFix introduced a (then) high-tech material called Rohadur thermoplastic used in the manufacturing of prefabricated foot orthoses that replaced steel and leather arch supports.
• In the 1960s, the firm worked with Berkemann’s granddaughter, orthopedic surgeon Melitta Berkemann, MD, to create the first-ever anatomically specific postoperative splints.
• In the 1970s PediFix discontinued its shoe line to focus on developing one of the industry’s largest assortment of orthodigital devices for conservative care of deformed toes. These unique, contoured pads and cushions help protect, support, and comfort many ailments, from bunions to hammer and crooked toes, and more.
• In the 1980s, Pedifix helped develop the use of solid polymer gels, creating Visco-GEL, one of the most widely used gels in footcare products.
• During the 1990s, the company introduced innovative marketing and distribution techniques and provided a range of products across multiple distribution points, including retail and in-office dispensing.
• In 2013, PediFix launched its line of preventive dermatology products, such as a unique topical antifungal, ClotrimazOil, and a broader line of foot washes and moisturizers under the Diabetic Defense brand.
• In 2015, PediFix unveiled the ShoeZap, the first 15-minute shoe sanitizer. It uses a fast-working germicidal light (ultraviolet C) technology to kill fungi and bacteria that thrive in footwear and cause tinea pedis, onychomycosis, foot and shoe odor, and diabetic infections.
How does PediFix plan to continue its trajectory of growth and innovation? According to Chris Case, 2016 and beyond will see advancements in the development of new product lines, including a sports footcare line and new diabetic care items, as well as refinement of existing bestsellers and the provision of superior customer service.
The company introduces 10 to 12 new products each year, providing a variety of devices and items made available across different distribution channels, including in-office dispensing, direct-order catalogs, or through local pharmacies.
Chris Case attributes the company’s continuing growth and innovation to its close rapport with physicians who carry PediFix products. An informal advisory board, as well as ongoing customer feedback, provides insight into patient and physician needs. The team at PediFix listens and responds. For example, after dispensing physicians suggested making ShoeZap more accessible to their patients, PediFix reduced the patient price to under $100. Likewise, the company is providing more options for in-office dispensing.
“We receive and welcome many wonderful new product ideas from our customers,” he said. “They know what works for their patients and have great ideas for innovations and improvements to existing items. Some of those will grow to become staples of professional footcare.”
With an increase in the importance of IOD as an ancillary way for practitioners to boost incomes, in 2016, PediFix will offer a greater array of free turnkey displays, attractively packaged products, and patient educational materials. To make carrying the PediFix line more convenient—and risk free—for physicians seeking new income streams, all PediFix products come with the company’s “timeless guarantee.” If a product doesn’t sell, it can be returned without a restocking fee.
Like their great-grandfather, the Case brothers’ vision for the future is centered around making superior products that meet their customers’ needs.
“Despite present-day challenges, the need and demand for medical footcare will continue to grow as the population ages,” said Chris Case. “We’re finding new ways to help patients and practitioners be successful in the years ahead.”
Brigid Galloway is a freelance writer in Birmingham, AL.
Article sponsored by PediFix.