By Isaac Bonnell
After 32 years in business, Superfeet has grown into a worldwide company with more than 20 products distributed in 29 countries. But the Ferndale-based company still has one problem with their product.
“The problem is that they’re invisible — we don’t know who has them in their shoes,” said product manager Ward Collins.
You may not know it, but the next person you see could be using performance-enhancing insoles.
Superfeet began as the sports division of Northwest Podiatric Laboratory, which makes custom orthotics in Blaine, and became its own company in 1977. Superfeet originally produced insoles for ski boots and hockey skates, but quickly expanded into other athletic applications. The company motto now is “every shoe, every day.”
“We were known for our custom products before the over-the-counter products. Superfeet is based on the idea of general-purpose orthotic,” Collins said. “It started with a desire to provide an inexpensive insole.”
Superfeet now makes insoles for almost every kind of footwear, from soccer cleats to heels. All of its product lines are separated by the color of the insoles — green, blue and black were the originals.
The green model has become the company’s most popular product and is tailored toward athletic footwear like running shoes. A few years after the green model debuted, Superfeet released the blue model, which has slightly less padding, a shallower heel cup and is designed for tighter-fitting footwear.
The black model takes it one step further and is designed for low-impact applications such as golf shoes or casual footwear.
All of the different products are designed to support the natural, unweighted shape of the foot, thus helping to align the rest of the body, Collins said.
“What separates us is the shape and fit and the theory behind the product itself,” Collins said. “There are a lot of patents in our products.”
At the company’s Ferndale headquarters, nearly 100 employees work to assemble, package and ship more than 7,500 pairs of Superfeet a day. The company also has a production facility in South Korea that ships primarily to the global market.
The various components of the insoles — the plastic heel cup, the foam in cold-weather models, the thermo-foil that keeps your toes warm — are manufactured elsewhere, but the final product is put together in Ferndale.
“It’s not automated. Someone touches every single pair of Superfeet,” Collins said.
Business is booming and the company is outgrowing its current facility. Last fall, Superfeet purchased nearly six acres of commercial land in Ferndale with plans to expand production. The recession originally put plans on hold, but the company hopes to break ground in the spring, Collins said.
Meanwhile, the company is also trying to keep in step with advancing technology and market demands for eco-friendly materials, Collins said.
“We created the premium orthotic category and we’re trying to stay on top,” he said.