Five Questions for Raymond J. Margiano, PhD, CEO

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When Raymond J. Margiano, PhD, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions Inc., in Marietta, Georgia, left the corporate world to start Heel Quik!, a shoe repair operation, his father and mentor said, "Shoe repair? You could have had my service station." His father soon saw the light as the business succeeded, and it wasn't long before Margiano opened Foot Solutions, now a 240-plus-franchise chain in 13 countries. Although each Foot Solutions is a pedorthic facility, the company's focus is on fit, comfort, and supportive orthotics. "We try to bridge both worlds, solving problems with products the customer or patient wants to use and wear," Margiano said.

1. What has motivated you in your life and professional pursuits?

I started working with my Dad in his service station when I was ten years old. He was first-generation Italian and worked hard to succeed in his own business. When I was growing up, I thought it was "slave labor," but working with my Dad ended up giving me the drive, dedication, and desire to succeed at whatever I focused on.

2. What emerging trends or exciting advances do you see coming in the pedorthic field?

Germany and Holland are the world leaders in the pedorthic field. As we continue to grow the pedorthic field in the United States, I believe we will implement the best of both worlds and will see an Americanized version of the European pedorthic industry that will move us to the next level.

3. What advice would you give to a pedorthist about how to balance the retail side of the business with the clinical aspect?

At Foot Solutions we focus very strongly on the retail side of the business.... This may or may not be a good road for you to pursue as a pedorthist. It really depends on your strengths and weaknesses. If you love the technical aspect and working in the back room, then moving to the front area will be a change and challenge for you. If you want to cross over to the retail side, do it in steps that you are comfortable with. Take advantage of the National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA) and the many educational benefits available related to the retail side of the business. There is no question that there is opportunity in both areas.

4. How can pedorthists maximize their relations with orthotists?

The relationship between pedorthists and orthotists should be very similar to the relationships pedorthists have with podiatrists. As pedorthists, we focus on the ankle down, where as orthotists work the entire body. We are an asset to orthotists-to appropriately fit their patients when they have dispersed an orthotic or to work with patients in the area when it is not economically feasible or practical for the O&P facility. There is an excellent opportunity for cross-referral from both groups and a bridge of knowledge that makes sense.

5. What do you see in the future for pedorthics?

The pedorthic field is still in its infancy. There are many things taking place that should influence the growth of the pedorthic field and the need for trained professionals. The baby boomers will continue to be a growing and very active generation, followed by a growing diabetic and overweight generation. There will be no shortage of work or opportunity.