In 1953, William Scheck and Patrick Siress founded a small prosthetics company in Oak Park with a goal of providing the best customer service. Sixty years later there’s a lot that’s changed, but the service component has grown along with the business.
Sure, the technology has advanced—gone are the days of wooden and leather prosthetics, as they’re now made with a microprocessor technology and titanium components. And the field has gone from a trade to a profession requiring a master’s education. But even after moving its headquarters to Oak Brook and opening new locations throughout the Chicago area, the focus remains on service.
"I think the service and care from our staff & practitioners is what sets Scheck & Siress apart from other practices,” marketing manager Jessica Gissal said. “We truly care about our patients and their success, and strive to help them reach their individual goals."
That was the case from the beginning. Scheck was trained in prosthetics during his time in the military in World War II, and veterans continue to be a large population served by the company. Siress was an amputee, having lost both legs below the knee in a farm accident. He got firsthand training when he built his own prosthetics.
Scheck & Siress has been growing since the beginning. Orthotics were incorporated just a couple of years after the business opened, and the company now has 11 offices and more than 160 employees. It also owns the Shapemaker computer assisted design system, which they license it to other providers, and Advanced O&P Solutions, which manufactures the products with which they fit patients.
Having the design and manufacturing done in house is another thing that’s set them apart, though CEO Jim Kaiser said the business already was set up for success when he and others bought the company in 1983.
“It’s definitely the structure we were in. The stability was already there and gave us the ability to continue the care,” Kaiser said. “It’s very different to have a continuum of care because our patients become lifetime patients.”
They still see World War II veterans in their 90’s and other patients who have been coming for half a century. There’s former White Sox owner Bill Veeck, a veteran and amputee, and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee as a result of the Iraq War.
Many Scheck & Siress employees are also amputees (at one point, as much as 17 percent of employees used prosthetics), and they don’t just provide service in the office—some have founded groups to organize activities and support outside. Scheck & Siress is a partner with Adaptive Adventures, helping with activities such as kayaking and cycling along the Chicago River. Dozen of practitioners are also active in the Range of Motion Project, which donates prosthetic limbs to people in Haiti, Ecuador and Guatemala.
Scheck & Siress is located at 401 Harrison St. in Oak Park. Learn more in our business directory listing or on the company's website.