Each week, The Columbian offers a brief snapshot of an interesting Clark County business. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: email@example.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.
Business name: Amfit Inc.
President: Arjen Sundman.
General manager: Robert Catchings.
Current address: 5408 N.E. 88th St.
What the business does: Amfit designs and manufactures equipment for the measurement and manufacture of custom foot orthotics. The company has a device to measure the contour of the foot, called a contact digitizer; software to modify that shape, providing relief under a painful part of the foot; and a milling machine to grind the custom insole. Amfit also provides milling services and it provides insole blanks to those who have the company’s equipment.
Steps to building the business: When economic challenges hit in 2007 and 2008, company president Arjen Sundman said, the company redirected sales efforts to export markets. That strategy paid off, he said, and Amfit ran smoothly and profitably through the recession. Sundman said the company is now positioned to use the lessons it learned in export markets to grow the business.
Greatest challenge: Staying as many steps ahead of potential competitors as possible and figuring out new ways to build business are the company’s biggest challenges. The challenges are especially large in foreign markets where the economics of making custom foot orthotics may be entirely different from those in the United States.
What’s ahead: Amfit recently purchased a facility at 3611 N.E. 68th St. It will be the first time the company has owned its building. Amfit is now outfitting that facility and optimizing its operations, with plans to move in by May 1. Sundman said the company plans to bring some of its manufacturing back to the United States from China in the next 15 to 18 months.
Business history: Sundman said he is an engineer at heart and loves to tinker, designing new products and processes. He said the real trick, however, is to design things people want to buy, create an excellent design and then capitalize on it. Sundman said it is so much fun to see your products go out the door to paying customers. He has been with Amfit most of his career. He was hired as a consultant in 1987 and after holding several positions, he became president in 1999.
Year established in Clark County: 2003.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.