Boa sports system finds market in medical devices
Boa Technology Inc., known in the sports world for its quick-action lacing systems that tighten with the turn of a dial, is quickly growing in the medical field.
Gary Hammerslag launched Boa in 1998 in Steamboat Springs after he wanted a way to tie snowboarding boots without having to tug on laces that never seemed to tighten just right. One of his past businesses involved selling wires that guide catheters in angioplasty. From that, he developed a wheel system that tightens stainless steel wire laces by turning a knob.
For years, medical companies wanted to use the system for items needing an adjustable fit, like wrist and knee braces. But it wasn't until about four years ago that Boa started dabbling in the medical arena. And last year, Boa formed a medical division that with partner companies has introduced orthopedic braces, ankle braces, knee braces and other products.
"When people call, we don't have to tell them 'no' anymore," Hammerslag said of the medical companies.
The medical division generated 5 percent of Boa's sales in 2011, said Jimmy Capra, head of Boa's medical division. Capra expects the division's revenue to at least quadruple in 2012 and make up 10 percent of Boa's growing overall sales.
The private company doesn't disclose overall revenues.
L.L. Bean, Vans, The North Face, K2 and Red Wing Shoes are just some of the outdoors brands selling products using Boa's lacing system.
In the medical field, Boa has been working with Futuro, DeRoyal and Exos on braces.
After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Boa gave Joe Mahon of Peak Prosthetic Designs Inc. in Salt Lake City dozens of its wheels so Mahon could adjust the fit of prosthetics, which typically are custom made to fit each person but can't be adjusted easily if a person gains weight or if a body part sweats or swells during the day.
Thousands of Haitians lost limbs in the quake. Individuals and organizations worldwide have worked to meet the demand there for prosthetic limbs.
Mahon didn't return a phone message seeking comment for this story.
Hammerslag and Capra see Boa branching out into even more products in the future. One company once asked for Boa's help on adjusting sinks to fit into countertops.
"We didn't do it," Capra said, "but we like to joke we do everything and the kitchen sink."
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