The late Carl Riecken tested parachutes during a Navy hitch in the 1950s. Back home in Evansville, Ind., he pursued a more down-to-earth career.

Riecken, who passed away in 2006 at 74 years old, built on his family’s shoe repair business, turning it into Riecken’s Orthotic Laboratory and Foot Comfort World, one of the most successful enterprises in the O&P and pedorthics industries. The firm is known for designing, patenting and manufacturing a range of foot care products from silicone-free PQ [professional quality] Gel heel cups to insoles, pads, wedges, lifts and contoured carbon-fiber spring plates. Riecken’s also makes recoil pads for shotguns and rifles.

“We at Riecken’s Orthotic Laboratory are still following Carl’s vision,” Shane Henry, company vice president and Carl Riecken’s stepson, told O&P Business News. The firm currently employs 10 full time and six part time employees.

From left, production employee Mark Honniker and Charles Friedman, Riecken’s president, pour and apply top cover to Butterfly insoles.

Images: Craig B, O&P Business News

The 27,000-square-foot, two-story building that houses the firm includes a manufacturing area, orthotic laboratory, full-service shoe repair shop and a combination comfort-therapeutic shoe store and pedorthics facility with Wendell Webster, CPed, on staff.

Riecken’s employs a wax and sand casting method, designed by Carl Riecken, to make their custom orthoses in-house. The firm also uses other types of castings from outside practitioners to craft the PQ Gel custom orthoses.


Shane Henry, vice president and stepson of Carl Riecken, oversees the firm.


Production employees Ashli Burris and Mark Honniker pour and compress PQ product molds.

A century of foot care

The family firm, owned by Riecken’s widow, Linda, dates to 1910 when Carl’s grandfather, Louis H. Riecken, opened a small shoe repair shop in Mt. Vernon, Ind. He moved the business to Evansville in 1914.

His son, George Lewis Riecken, learned the shoe repair trade. Ultimately, he took over the operation and ran it with his wife, Fannie, until he died in 1957.

Meanwhile, George’s son, George Carl Riecken, followed his father into the business. Born in 1931, he always went by “Carl.”

Before he became president of Riecken’s, Carl was in the Navy’s Parachute Jump Test Corps from 1951 to 1954.


The founder is in his shoe shop.


Friedman checks products on the cure rack.

An ABC board-certified pedorthist, Riecken was president of the Prescription Footwear Applicators (now the Pedorthic Footcare Association) and a member of the Board for Certification in Pedorthics.

In addition, he was a professor of orthopedic shoe technology at Ball State, Northwestern and Oklahoma State universities. Riecken devised several pedorthic products and systems for manufacturing pedorthic appliances.


Friedman runs the die cutting machine.

PQ Gel

PQ gel technology uses a viscoelastic polymer and is silicone-free. PQ has the appropriate dynamic mechanical properties that provide optimum comfort and protection from shock loads. It absorbs shock and shear forces. PQ also features low rebound and modules to dissipate shock and transfer load similar to hydraulic fluid. The shock waves are distributed horizontally instead of upward to the lower limbs and back.

PQ contains no nutritive components that encourage microbe growth and will not support fungus and growth. The molecular structure of PQ is much like flesh or soft tissue protection, as it remains soft, pliable and does not absorb moisture. PQ differs from other gels because it contains no cellular constructions, so there is no localized collapse in load bearings areas. When used by foot care professionals, PQ eliminates pressure points, providing optimum performance and comfort. — by Berry Craig

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