"While I was attending college, my father had gone on a trip with my mother to Florida, and he stepped on something in the ocean and incurred a small wound on the bottom of his foot. Unfortunately, he didn’t know it at the time, that he was a diabetic, so he felt very little pain from that injury. Several months after the initial injury, and after continuous treatments to heal his foot, my mom called and said they’re rushing your dad into surgery to amputate his leg, and that if they didn’t amputate, he would die in 24 hours. My wife, my sister and I immediately went to the hospital and upon seeing my father post amputation, I had no words that could comfort my father except, I love you, Dad and I am here for you. My dad had once been a staggering 6’6" tall man was now primarily confined to his bed or a wheel chair. However, 5 months later, to my surprise my dad walked into my apartment on a prosthesis. I was immediately fascinated by the process, how did they make it, how did he learn to walk on it, and that’s how I got started in this business," explains Zach Smith, one of the owners of family-run Victory Prosthetics & Orthotics.

"Zach called me one day and said, ‘Hey, do you want to go to prosthetics school with me?’" said Dave Smith, Zach’s brother and partner in the business. Originally from Pennsylvania, Zach and Dave both attended O&P school together in Pittsburgh PA. Once completed, they were living in different states and working toward the meeting the requirement of their O&P residency. They moved around, working for several companies prior to starting Victory in 2001.

"Sheila Emory has been there for us since the beginning," said Zach. "She was recommended by an attorney who was helping us, and she advised us to start an S Corporation. She helped us with SBA loans and funding. I knew nothing about accounting, and she taught me about the financial side of running a business. She helps us with our day-to-day accounting and year-end planning. Sheila’s been awesome!"

Victory has 28 employees, eight of which are family members. They operate in Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, and Knoxville, and in addition to their patient service locations, they have a lab to fabricate limbs. Victory serves patients from East Tennessee, and the surrounding region and primarily from Wellmont, MSHA, and Mountain Home VA. "Approximately seventy-five percent of limbs we make are for below-the-knee amputations that are due to diabetes or trauma. Twenty percent are above-the-knee, and five percent are upper extremity," explained Dave.

Passion for Helping Others

"When people come to our office, most of the time they are in a wheelchair, and we get to see them go from a wheelchair to standing and then to walking," said Dave. "It’s rewarding to give people that part of their lives back."

Zach and Dave came up with Victory’s name from I Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." "To be in this business, you’ve got to have the ability to adapt to healthcare changes and a passion for helping other people."

Photos by Peter Nelson Photography.