One of the many pleasures of life in coastal Florida is spending time on the beach. But mobility issues can present a serious obstacle in navigating sandy, uneven terrain. That’s why Stabilized Steps co-founders Stephanie Gomez and Eryk Hardwick have launched a new business dedicated to bringing their patented adaptive technology devices to the customers who need them.
Hardwick, a residential contractor by trade, was doing cabinetry work for a client, John, who had gone through multiple joint replacements when John asked him for a favor. The walker he used had dampened John’s love of visiting the beach, as it sunk and stuck in the sand. Could Hardwick invent something that would allow him to take his walker to the beach?
A few weeks later, Hardwick created a metal foot that attached to the bottom of each side of John’s walker, stabilizing the four legs. John was able to lose 30 pounds thanks to the exercise he got from going to the beach, and even began to swim again.
Hardwick secured a utility patent on his idea in 2013, but still needed to figure out how to bring the product to market. That’s where business consultant Stephanie Gomez came in. Before meeting Hardwick in August of 2016, Gomez had spent many years honing her skills in the finance sector. She received a double bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Florida Gulf Coast University and went on to work in Palm Beach in commercial banking, but turned her attention to advising small businesses with her own consulting company when she and her husband, Daniel, moved to Naples to be close to family after the birth of their son.
Gomez quickly became passionate about Hardwick’s project and its life-changing impact. “Having limitations on mobility, whether is due to a disease or injury, can have serious effects on the mental and emotional stability of an individual and their caregivers,” she explains. “Stabilized Steps wants to help make the world a happier place by giv- ing individuals with mobility issues the freedom to move forward.”
Gomez spent a year laying the groundwork for the launch of Stabilized Steps, including finding the right local partners for necessary services and refining the design until she and Hardwick were satisfied with the final product. “As a commercial banker, I used to tell my clients to take the time to have a solid foundation for their company, as that was the base of whatever they were building,” she says.
The foundation of the business mirrors the stability of the product itself: their patented Stabilized Gliders have been tested to withstand more than 500 pounds in different falling and stress scenarios on gravel, grass, mud, snow and sand.
Stabilized Steps has already started taking preorders, and the first shipments will start before the end of the year. A Kickstarter campaign is in the works, and Gomez hopes to work with and support organizations such as the Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida and the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Southwest Florida.