Friday, February 16, 2007
Roger Adams may not be a house hold name but his shoes certainly can be found in my domiciles and roadways across the globe. Roger invented the new kind of skate-shoe and gave the world, Heelys in 2000. Roger wanted to invent a new way to have fun on wheels and set to the project in his friend’s garage. Using a heated butter knife he cut into pair of Nike sneakers and experimenting with metal balls and wheels. Eventually he discovered the proper stance i.e. one foot in front of the other and toes up to maintain balance, and off he jolly well rolled. He invested his life savings to get Heelys going as a commercial enterprise and took his prototypes to seven different shoe companies and six sporting-goods companies, but none were interested. Finally venture capitalist Patrick F. Hamner offered funding and now it seems to have paid off. Now based in Carrollton, Texas, the Heeling Sports Ltd , makes Heelys-wheeled footwear that work like skates when the wearer shifts weight to the heels. They require very little skill to maneuver and the wheel can be extended and retracted at will. The footwear allows the user to seamlessly transition from walking to running or skating. The company has sold more than 4.5 million pairs of Heelys and world sales are growing. Finding a pair of Heelys can be a task because many stores carry only a limited stock which sells out quickly. This just adds to the shoes’ appeal. Heelys are concerned about safety and warn consumers the wheeled footwear is for recreational sport only and should not be treated as a novelty or toy. All necessary precautions to reduce injuries are recommended such as wearing appropriate safety gear. A recent survey based on data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Sporting Goods Association reported wheeled sports - wheeled shoes, in-line skating and skateboarding when used with proper safety equipment were safer than basketball, baseball or soccer. This did not stop World against Toys Causing Harm, a Boston watchdog group, from placing Heelys on its annual “10 Worst Toys” list in 2006, because of their concerns of injuries.