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Rags to Riches

By Sarah Popelka

North on Main Street, almost out of town, a subtle white metal building sets back among the trees. On a weekday, the parking lot is mostly full with a few spots marked "visitor" saved directly in front of the doors. A passerby might assume it's just another office building.

But, beyond the double-glass doors, the headquarters of Scott Specialties, Inc., work helps a broken arm, an expecting mother, a patient after surgery. Other than the medical expenses, one usually wouldn't consider these activities related.

Wilson Scott, founder and owner, built the now-international business from the ground up, or more so he built it from the basement up.

In the early 1960s, Scott sold surgical supplies for the Zimmer Corp. One product, rib belts, were practical but uncomfortable to wear and difficult to adjust. At the time, they were made from medical webbing and buckles. Soon after Velcro became popular, Mr. Wilson adapted the new material and created the modern rib belt. He used elastic and Velcro, so the new product went on with ease and wearers were pleased.

With the help of his wife, Donna, Scott took the elastic and Velcro and cut out patterns in the basement of their home. When the business soon outgrew the basement in 1965, Scott Specialties moved one block from downtown. With business booming, the company expanded and still needed more space. In 1982, Scott Specialties left the current Head Start Preschool building and moved north to their present home on Main Street.
Today, they offer a complete line of Orthopedic Supports and Patient Care Products.

Scott Specialties products sell nationwide and in 17 foreign countries. Employing about 200 employees, plants are located in Belleville, Clay Center and Concordia, Kansas.

The inventory has grown from the original Adam and Eve Rib Belts to over 800 different products. With Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM), Scott Specialties is able to provide private labeling for their retailers.

"We package it for them," says Lanie Engle, Belleville, daughter of Wilson and Donna, and Vice President of Scott Specialties. "Our products are sold at pharmacies and health centers, not directly to the public," she says.

Authorized dealers are all over the nation and world and include such trade names as Scott, Sport-Aid, Rebound, Loving Comfort, CMO and Premier Choice. They are also licensed manufacturers of the Snoopy Pediatric Orthopedic Supports. In fact, Charles Shultz would actually personally approve every design.

"We'd do a test run of, say arm slings, send in the samples, and he'd have to give the okay before full production," Engle said. In fact, since his death, there is someone today at Shultz's company who still looks at every design.

Wilson Scott is retired, but still enjoys coming through the office to see how everything is doing, Engle said.

"He really enjoys his success. It's made him happy to see everyone else enjoying it as well," she says.

 

 

 

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Last Updated September 29, 2006
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