Keith Hatfield Interview on BusinessInterviews.com
“The Elite Sports Therapy & Medical Rehabilitation wanted to highlight what they conceived was the top 50 new products in sports therapy from around the world, they put the Hatfield Strap in this category.”
Keith Hatfield developed the Hatfield Strap out of necessity. Keith has long suffered from plantar fasciitis and had purchased many devices to stretch the foot and calf and felt continually disappointed with the results he was getting.
After conducting research, Keith was inspired to create his own device after personally experiencing a gap in the market. He ordered the material and cut and sewed it together, and the first time he put it on he experienced the stretch he was after all along. Everyone that tries the Hatfield Strap feels that stretch right away.
BusinessInterviews.com: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Keith: Back in 1987 as an athletic trainer for women’s sports at Creighton University I was starting to use rubber tubing to perform arm exercises as a warm-up. I thought, hey I could put handles on the ends of the tubing, write up an exercise program, package it and sell it for $10.00. Then I thought, “No, I could never do something like that”. Then ten years ago I’m walking down the aisle at the grocery store and what do I see for $9.99, rubber tubing with handles and an exercise instruction sheet. Now you see them everywhere. I thought, “I don’t want to let something like that slip by again”.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk us through the process from first having the idea for the Hatfield Strap to actually getting it to market and any challenges that you faced along the way?
Keith: Well, my first thought was to get it patented. I hired a patent attorney and started that three year process, I’m currently 20 months into that process. My patent attorney advised that at 18 months the patent office publishes your patent application. So, I started producing the product, listing it as patent pending. I spoke with the same company that I purchased all of the material from and they told me that they could fabricate my product and ship it out for me. I currently work 55 hours per week in dermatology as a physician assistant, so I needed that extra help. We have the product produced and waiting to be shipped out, so when someone orders one it gets shipped right out. I currently run the company via computer and cell phone. I have a great sales consultant, Mike Morris and a public relations firm in 180 Communications that help with getting the word out.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you so far?
Keith: Showing people at medical conferences has worked well. Everyone that has tried it has really liked it. I have yet to hear someone state that it didn’t provide an excellent stretch.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to create two different types of straps?
Keith: My original strap is the one that goes around the calf. That’s what I had envisioned and produced with my first prototype. I had a nurse that I worked with who has bad plantar fasciitis use it and she said she really liked the stretch, but could not stand to have anything around her calf. I had the fabricator make the wide strap a little longer so you can simply sit on it and that’s where the second strap was conceived. It is my biggest seller, because you don’t have to be sized for it like the calf strap.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you elaborate on the significance of being contacted by the Elite Sports Therapy & Medical Rehabilitation convention and how it could influence the direction of the company?
Keith: I was very excited to hear from them. Their show in London has all of the high level elite sports trainers, doctors, and athletic trainers (sometimes referred to as sports rehabilitators) in Europe at one show. The Elite Sports Therapy & Medical Rehabilitation wanted to highlight what they conceived was the top 50 new products in sports therapy from around the world, they put the Hatfield Strap in this category.
BusinessInterviews.com: What milestone are you most looking forward to reaching in 2014?
Keith: I would like to see someone take my device and perform one or more studies on it comparing it to other items on the market. I personally know that the device works and everyone that has tried it says they really feel the stretch better than anything they currently utilize for stretching. I would like to see someone else take it and show that it not just works, but works well. I have had a lot of reviews that have been very favorable, but I would like to have a peer reviewed study published. Speaking with healthcare professionals one of the first questions asked is “show me the study”. Right now I have anecdotal evidence, but not the objective study that independently validates the effectiveness of the Hatfield Strap.
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Inventor of the Hatfield Strap, and CEO of CK Industries of the Big Bend.