Our business is very, very interesting. We get a wide variety
of challenges, keeping our work interesting. Every client
that comes through our door is an opportunity to put our experience
The evolution has been gradual, but the culmination is profound.
What started as a “custom boot shop” has become
a narrow but exciting specialty: helping people whose feet
have or are becoming a limitation in their lives.
Earlier in this site you may have read how in my beginning
years I just wanted to make nice boots. One day I had a “paradigm
shift” and realized that I really am a Problem
Solver of foot-pain-related, foot-structural issues. I had learned
to be a great problem solver years ago in the ranch. Now
I do it with feet in my Foot Lab.
There are essentially three ways that we accomplish our work:
1) A foot orthotic—an interface between the foot and
the shoe/ground. This allows the foot to operate in the
position in which it was genetically made rather than the
dictated by the floor or the ground. This minimizes the
repetitive stress that is often created. Usually orthotics
the task of leveling out a leg-length discrepancy. Sometimes
the orthotic becomes quite involved as in cases like Charcot
Marie Tooth Disease, post-polio syndrome, or partial foot
amputation. These may require what is more accurately called
a foot appliance for the increased and specific foot support.
2) At times our work is taken to a second level with modifications
to the shoe or boot. We can build in more extreme leg-length
correction and give a medial or lateral flare for the foot
that is pushing the shoe over one way or the other. Frequently
we will build into an off-the-shelf shoe what is called
bottom” to facilitate the motion of the gait. At times
we need to make radical alteration to the shoe to make room
inside for an appliance as detailed above.
3) Then there are those feet that have no option but custom
footwear. Since West Nile Virus came into my life, bootmaking
has gone to the back burner, and I have a long waiting list.
Hopefully the time has come and hopefully I am in a place
in life when I can work in a pair of custom boots from time
We get calls from individuals who have struggled with foot
problems for years with little success. Often they have
come to the conclusion that the only solution is made-to-measure
or custom footwear. As I listen to their stories, often
see that the problem could be solved either with effective
orthotics and/or with modification to off-the-shelf footwear.
Unfortunately some (many) of these individuals are so frustrated,
thinking that they have tried everything else that they
hang the phone up with disappointment, not being willling
another possibility. I assume that they are saying to themselves:
I have tried orthotics, and they didn’t work! Well,
not all orthotics are created equal, and there have been
many, many times I have succeeded with the orthotics that
when others have failed. Usually when a client trusts enough
to come for a consult, we have very good news for them.
Very often (nearly always) there is a way to make ready-made
work for them at a fraction of the cost of custom. They
can then afford to have more than one pair of shoes, and
not such a crisis when they wear out!
Often we are asked where this whole idea came from, It all
started with making custom boots. Having been raised on
a horse ranch, I was planning on a career as a veterinarian.
After high school I was off to Utah State University, enrolled
in the pre-vet program. However, I took two years off to
to Brazil to serve as a missionary for my church, The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). While
there I became acquainted with a Japanese family in the
town of Aracatuba that made boots (from water buffalo leather!).
Later I came to know a man named Pedro Barrato in the town
of Araraquara who made boots. I watched him cut leather
his kitchen table and learned that boots could be made on
a small-time basis—that a factory was not required.
That is where it all started.
There are many kinds of gifts and talents: music, art, athletics,
etc. Years go I developed and accepted that I had the gift
of fitting the foot (even very difficult feet) with near
perfection. I also saw that I had the gift of teaching. I
am also gifted
to tune and repair difficult machines, and I have the gift
of seeing possibilities. What I have been slow to accept
is that I also have a gift to see and understand what is not
working right anatomically/bio-mechanically in a foot and
ankle. This gift’s appearance was not instantaneous,
but rather something that grew within me over years. For me
it has become so “common sense” that I just assumed
that most everyone who pursued this craft could learn and
see the same thing. As it turns out, a lot of people deal
with the bio-mechanics of the foot but only a small percentage
really “get it.” It is an even smaller percentage
that are bold enough to do their work in an adequately aggressive
manner to really affect a fix for the pain of the feet or
the structural foot issues that are occurring. Often what
I do logically should not work, but usually it does, and
my clients are astounded. This reality is making it a challenge
to find a replacement for myself. It is not just as easy
finding a Certified Pedorthist, and offering him a job.