TRS Prosthetics Fills Personal Need and Then Some
Boulder-based manufacturer: From a basement operation to a market leader
TRS PROSTHETICS | Product: Medical | Made in: Boulder
Founder and CEO Bob Radocy lost a hand after a car accident in the early 1970s. Founding TRS Prosthetics was all about filling a personal need.
"I tried what technology was out there at the time and really wasn't satisfied," he says. "I started to design a device for myself as a personal project."
A soccer player, Radocy wanted a better hand for the sport. "When I lost my hand, I used to tie a tennis ball to the end of my prosthesis so I had fall protection," he explains of his earliest prototypes.
By 1979, he'd evolved the concept through several iterations and started TRS. He's since built his Boulder-based manufacturer from a basement operation to a market leader with about $1.5 million in annual sales.
The focus has always been on prehensile gripping for body-powered prostheses, with a focus on pediatric products and "activity-specific devices," Radocy says. "Whatever you want to do, shoot a bow and arrow or go kayaking, we've probably got some kind of adaptor for it."
TRS makes devices for basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, surfing, photography and many other pursuits. Many activities have more than one product, Radocy says. "A lot of it has to do with what your handedness is." In 2018, the company is releasing a "universal grabber for bicyclists and motorized vehicles” that doesn't snap onto the handlebars.
The company makes small runs of ultra-specialized products — it might sell only a dozen of a given prehensile model in a year — and keeps an inventory of dozens of different products.
"We in-house most of our manufacturing these days," Radocy says, noting that TRS makes high-performance polyurethane parts at its Boulder facility. "Polyurethane casting and mixing is kind of like cake mixing. It's as much art as it is chemistry."
The location also offers quality of life a great testing ground, he adds. "Colorado's a great environment to live in. It gives us the ability to be outdoors and be creative with the stuff we build, and test it here."
While TRS is well-established in the U.S., exports are growing and are now about 15 percent of the total sales. "We expect to see some significant growth abroad," Radocy says. "People around the world are realizing you don't have to have something on the end of your arm that looks like