Heeling Art

The first step toward getting his life back to where he wanted it was getting his shoe business off on the right foot.
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This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Vital Stats: Roger Adams, 47, inventor and president of Heeling Sports Ltd.

Company: Athletic footwear company founded in 1998 that features Heelys, a shoe with a removable wheel in the heel.

2001 Sales: more than $25 million

Roller Boy: "I grew up in a roller rink. My claim to fame was being [in the Guinness Book of World Records] as the youngest baby to roller skate. My mom and dad had skating rinks, my sister had a huge skate distributorship, and my nephew manufactured skates. I was the only one who did the unthinkable and [broke from tradition]. But I'm back!"

"There's a magic in believing in your product, and, when that comes, the rest falls into place."

Wheels Start Turning: "It was a crazy time in my life; I had gone through a divorce and hated my job. I saw these kids on inline skates, skateboards and bicycles and flashed back to a time when I was happier. I thought, 'There's got to be something new out there.' I started tinkering in my garage, got the neighborhood kids involved, and, after a few days, I thought I really I had something."

The Ball Got Rolling: "I started talking to big shoe companies and some other folks. But a call from a VC presented a deal I couldn't refuse, which was to keep the majority of the company, name, management and do it myself."

Wheel Bliss: "This has been a blessing for me. There's something about being willing to say 'I've had it; I'm going to do something I want to do.' That, coupled with finding something I believe in, is what made Heelys work."

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Edition: March 2017

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