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Holiday bowl games showcased new BTR Park product

Feb. 2, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Holiday collegiate football bowl games this year showcased a new product from a division of Tekna Inc., a Kalamazoo-based company located in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

In games ranging from the Alamo Bowl in Texas to Detroit's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, a mobile athletic training table known as the MEDIC became a new sideline fixture. The MEDIC, introduced last summer in San Antonio at the National Athletic Trainers Association, is already a standard part of home and away games for teams ranging from WMU and Ohio University to Clemson, Princeton, Purdue and Michigan State. With the close of their football season, the product has moved indoors to the nation's basketball courts. In addition, interest has been triggered among NFL, NBA and X-Games trainers.

Developed and produced by Impact Athletic, a division of Tekna, the MEDIC is designed to take injury assessment and treatment off the ground or team bench and onto a unit that can serve as a base of operations near the playing field or court. It is built to stand up to the demanding environment of the game atmosphere.

The WMU Bronco training staff began working with Impact Athletic last fall when Impact donated one of the firm's first tables to the Broncos. WMU trainers had been on the lookout for a rugged replacement for the sideline tables they were using, saw and admired the MEDIC at the San Antonio event and were thrilled to learn the new product was being produced at the University's Business Technology and Research Park.

"I have colleagues at other schools who are jealous when they see this," says Kyle Blecha, director of medical services for Bronco athletics. "It was exactly what we were looking for--sturdy, durable and long lasting. We were tired of replacing sideline tables after a season or two. This is a great, rugged product made from the right materials. I think it will take off rapidly."

The sideline table is the focal point for a complete suite of athletic training products that also includes stationary storage and treatment tables for the training room. But it's the mobile MEDIC sideline table that has trainers talking. The heavy-duty table, which is available in two sizes, is constructed of lightweight, weather-resistant aluminum and features a rugged and easily cleaned marine-grade polymer tabletop that can be power-washed. The larger of the two tables will hold up to 750 pounds. Both sizes have large field feet that will not sink into the dirt and fold for easy transport using all-terrain wheels.

The MEDIC tabletops can--and frequently are--customized with team logos. The larger size, complete with logo, retails for just over $2,000.

Tekna, which has been a corporate partner in WMU's BTR Park since 2005, specializes in design and product development in the life sciences and medical device sectors. The Impact Athletic division is a new venture that grew out of an intense product development process the company uses to identify unmet needs among prospective clients.

"We've spread our wings," says Claire Eager, Tekna vice president and a WMU alumna who co-founded the company with her husband and fellow alum, Kris Eager. "We have a 'war room' within Tekna to develop new products and opportunities. One of our teams focused on the needs of the athletic sector. Impact Athletic is an example of Tekna's unique ability to single source product development."

Mike Rozewicz, Tekna's product business manager says the new product line "grew out of conversations with trainers, who frequently assess an injury on the ground, on the bench or on some makeshift device or lightweight folding table."

"We made sure we understood the environment and the kind of abuse the table would take and designed something that far exceeds the needs and can serve as a trainer's home base on the playing field," Rozewicz says. "Trainers told us that quick assessment on the sidelines without a trip to the locker room can sometimes keep a player in the game."

WMU's trainer Blecha, who previously worked for the San Diego Chargers, concurs on the value his profession places on durability.

"In football, for instance, we travel with a lot of equipment and things get nicked and damaged easily," he says. "They chose materials not only for travel but to stand up to the weather."

Blecha says the table will be used when WMU hosts MAC tournaments, and he expects it to be on the sidelines next summer for U.S. Tennis Association tournaments in Kalamazoo.

Rozewicz says the San Antonio showing of the prototype last summer resulted in immediate orders from around the country from all divisions of the NCAA and some professional teams. Next week, the company will take the product to Montana for an invitation-only event, the 2010 Big Sky Athletic Training Sports Medicine Conference, and he expects another spike in interest and orders.

Impact Athletic has a patent pending on the MEDIC and the MEDIC XL. Tekna and Impact Athletic are continuing to explore the expansion of the product line, as well as seek out other product opportunities.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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