Spring In Your Step
shoes are a little heavier, but the
technology outweighs that. My legs
did feel less fatigued after running
in them than they do in the run-
ning shoes I've had for 15 years.
Once word gets out, the shoes will
do very well."
Spira shoes already have been fea-
tured in Running Times and Runners' World maga-
zines and been compared favorably with other run-
ning shoes in Popular Mechanics.
The company holds several patents and has a few
pending on its technology. Soon they plan to come
out with casual and dress styles for men and women.
Southfield natives develop revolutionary technology for running,- walking shoes.
KERI GUTEN COHEN
Story Development Editor
hold the springs in,"
Andy recalled. "He ran in his driveway. Then he
sent them to me. I played two hours of basketball
in them, then /got an idea."
He thought of licensing the WaveSpring technol-
ogy to another company to develop, then decided
to do it himself.
He had built a successful law firm in El Paso,
Texas, specializing in bankruptcy law. But now he's
traded his business suits for sweats and is crisscross-
ing the country peddling his shoes.
Test marketing began in January
wo brothers are working to revolutionize
the shoe industry by putting more
bounce in our steps.
Andy and David Krafsur founded
ShoeSpring in 2000 to manufacture running and
walking shoes with coiled steel springs embedded
in each heel and forefoot. The shoes are lightweight
and look normal on the
As president and CEO of the company, Andy
outside, but provide extra
Krafsur runs the business and marketing side from
zing from the coils inside.
El Paso. In the beginning, he also drummed
According to a test
up investors, who now own about 20 per-
conducted at Michigan
cent of the business. Most come from El
State University, the
Paso; about 20 live in the Detroit area
spring system had supe-
and are friends from school or from
rior cushioning and also
many years at Tamarack Camps, where
returned 87-96 percent
he was a longtime camper, counselor
of the potential energy
that can be utilized dur-
"I remember seeing Andy at a
ing propulsion to opti-
friend's house with a clunky bag of
mize performance —
shoes," said Dr. Robert Weinfeld, a
the highest energy
Farmington Hills radiologist. "He start-
return of any shoe
ed talking about the shoes and tossing
technology MSU has
them out for us to try. I played devil's
advocate and asked hard questions, like
So, what does
This cross-section shows the tight steel_ coils
what would he do if no store wanted his shoes.
that give Spira shoes extra bounce.
"He said he'd sell them out of this trunk, then
From a physio-
open a store and. then another. His answers were
logical standpoint, it means
uniformly optimistic and terrific. He had a passion.
your muscles don't have to work as hard to get you
2002. And in October 2002, ShoeSpring shoes
He believed in them. This wasn't the guy I knew 25
around and your feet and legs are less tired at the
were launched outside El Paso. Now more than 250 years ago who couldn't even match a pair of shoes."
end of the day.
retailers specializing in running shoes, including
Dr. Weinfeld tried on a pair, liked how they felt,
The story of how ShoeSpring shoes were invent-
national chains Athlete's Foot and the Footlocker,
then asked if he could invest.
ed goes back to the brothers' early days in
sell the shoes in more than 30 states.
"It was a small sum, but enough to say I am part
Southfield, when both ran track at Southfield-
Locally, the shoes can be found at the
of something," he said. "You see the Costcos, the
Lathrup High School. David, now 39, was an All-
Footlocker in Somerset Collection; Running Fit
Walmarts — how often do you know the guy who
State runner. In 1985, he was on the U.S. team at
stores in West Bloomfield, Northville and Ann
the Maccabiah Games in Israel. Then, at the
Arbor; Good Feet on Woodward in Royal Oak;
The shoes, which come in several running and
University of Tennessee, he was a two-time All-
and at Monograms Plus/Diane's Uniforms in
walking styles, are assembled in China, with the
American. Andy, 42, was Athlete of the Year in
Royal Oak near Beaumont Hospital.
springs imported from Chicago where they are
high school and set a 1,500-meter record at
ShoeSprings range in price from $90-$150. So
Albion College that still stands.
far, 50,000 pairs have been sold, including 13,000
SPRING IN YOUR STEP on page 41
There are two younger brothers as well, also
just in December.
involved in sports. All are the sons of Gerald and
Don Kohn, owner of Monograms Plus/Diane's
Sandra Krafsur, who bc ■ th grew up in Orthodox
Uniforms, has had them on his shelves since
homes but opted for the Birmingham Temple for
their family. Gerald Krafsur is a federal judge in
"From the first week we had them, they have
Tennessee; Sandra Krafur lives in Royal Oak and is
accounted for 80-100 percent of our shoe sales on a
a longtime yoga teacher who once taught at the
weekly basis," Kohn said in aletter to Krafsur. "I
Jewish Community Center and now teaches at the
have been in retail sales for over 40 years and have
Community House in Birmingham.
never seen a product dominate its category like this
David stumbled on the spring idea when he was
one. Our key to selling the ShoeSpring is to get the
trying to devise a magnetic treadmill. He wanted to
customer to try them on ... the shoe sells itself."
lower the friction so it could go faster. He had seen
Ian Bedford, manager of the West Bloomfield
springs used as cushioning in other devises, such as
Running Fit, has had the shoes — recently
hydraulic cylinders in the aerospace and auto
rebranded as Spira — since Jan. 1. He's sold a
industries, and an idea came to mind.
dozen pairs so far.
"He took a pair of Reboks and used duct tape to
"People wonder what they are," he said. "The
Spira running shoes come in several styles.