WE ARE THE INDUSTRY LEADER IN THE DESIGN & MANUFACTURE OF PREMIUM CUSTOM AND OTC FOOT ORTHOTICS.
Our passion is crafting orthotics with advanced materials, superior biomechanical function and unparalleled quality. Located off the beaten path in the far northwest corner of Washington State, we’ve always been a little outside of the mainstream: obsessively high standards, one-of-a-kind manufacturing processes and outside-the-box thinking. We utilize the talents of 50 skilled craftspeople, some of whom have been perfecting their art and science at Northwest Podiatric Laboratory for over 40 years. Northwest Podiatric Laboratory. Premium custom foot orthotics from the industry's premier custom orthotic laboratory.
In 1964 Dennis Brown, retired British soldier, elite athlete and natural-born inventor, bought a fledgling custom orthotics lab in Lynden, Washington. He quickly moved the Lab up the road to Blaine, immersed himself in the field of orthotics and set out to reinvent how they could be made.
Although relatively new to the field, he learned enough to develop his first revolutionary innovation: the Bio Vac In-Shoe Casting System, a process inspired by his work with amputees, which he eventually patented. By casting inside the shoe, the foot stayed in the optimal position without hand manipulation, provided 30 percent more information and an effective result every time.
In 1974, Dennis invited renowned expert and biomechanics pioneer Dr. Chris Smith from the California College of Podiatric Medicine to be his partner. Chris’ well-regarded credentials gave Northwest instant credibility, and his knowledge of the foot’s function proved invaluable in new product development.
With their exclusive blend of science, craftsmanship and innovation, the partners shared a passion to eliminate foot pain for as many people as possible.
Northwest’s product is set apart by the unique shape inherent to every device they’ve designed and produced. While Dennis was guided by intuition when he crafted his early devices, Chris later confirmed their shape inherently reflected biomechanical principles.
In the 1970’s, Dennis began to focus on the emerging field of sports medicine and recognized that the materials used to make orthotic devices were not strong enough for high performance. Unheard of in the field, he turned to an aerospace material…carbon fiber.
With no budget or equipment, Dennis worked to understand the characteristics of the material and how to tailor it into a device. After extensive trials and many lessons learned, Northwest produced their first carbon fiber orthotic product and, to this day, remains the only lab to produce a carbon fiber orthotic to their level of quality and performance.
Dennis and Chris then set out to provide affordable insoles to the general public and established Superfeet as the Sports Medicine Division of Northwest. Wanting to tackle the most challenging fit issues first, they began in the ski industry and developed a boot expander and custom insole for Nordica.
In 1977 Superfeet In-Shoe Systems Inc was registered as an independent company, and with the help of the team at the Lab, Dennis continued to manage Superfeet until 1990 when new leadership was hired.
Today, Superfeet is the world's leading brand of supportive insoles and, with Northwest’s technical and R&D expertise, the two companies work closely together to offer a complete range of world-class orthotic products.
In the 1980s, using knowledge gained while working with carbon fiber, Northwest created a new top-tier product with a combination of fiberglass and graphite, called Superglass®. Once again, out-of-the-box thinking established proprietary advancements in production resulting in increased efficiencies and a thinner, lighter and stronger product.
In 1994 Dennis Brown received an Honorary Doctor of Science from the California College of Podiatric Medicine to acknowledge his accomplishments and contribution to the field.
While Dennis & Chris helped countless celebrities over the years, most notable was Jerry Seinfeld. At the peak of his hit television show in the mid-90s Seinfeld called the Lab looking for help. So impressed after traveling to Blaine to have his orthotics made, he encouraged them to use his story to promote Northwest. An ensuing friendship landed Dennis, Chris and their wives with invitations to a number of Seinfeld shows, including an appearance in the final episode, which was exclusively for family and close friends.
In 2011 new innovations were launched with the Children’s Orthotics program and In-Office Foot Digitizer. Both reflect Northwest’s core belief in biomechanics and their proprietary shape.
It is no surprise that employees—the best in their field—stay at Northwest for many years…and average 15 years experience with the company. Thirty percent have stayed for over 20 years. Being part of a unique company and team in a small town setting, and knowing they help people everyday, is deeply gratifying.
It’s been 50 years since Dennis purchased Northwest, and he and Chris estimate they have worked on over a million feet and created more than 40 international patents related to orthotic devices and processes. Today, imbued by Dennis’ and Chris’ belief in biomechanics, original ideas, artisanship and hard work, Northwest employees carry a deep sense of pride in their origins, their craft and their ability to help people today, and for generations to come.