Tennis, Golf, Track, Anyone? You Name the Sport, Carl Dilg Has the Sole Power
Question for the man who thinks he has everything: How many pairs of shoes does it take to be properly shod for jogging, tennis, basketball and golf? Answer: One pair of shoes and four pairs of Apex soles. At least, that is the prospect for the not too distant future. Right now, Apex athletic shoes for joggers, made by the American Sporting Goods Corporation, come with two soles, smooth and cleated. All a road runner needs to do is peel off one sole and slap on the other. Already a golf shoe with three soles (casual, spiked and spikeless) is in the works, and the long-range goal is for a multipurpose, multisport athletic shoe.
The athletes will have Carl Dilg and his hip injury to thank for this revolution. “I went out one day and tried to run,” explains Dilg, now 29 but then a cross-country runner at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oreg. “I had problems in both my back and my right leg. I managed about half a mile.” Dilg had a podiatrist fashion a pair of special shock-absorbing shoes. “But they were too expensive to replace every time the soles wore out,” he says. “So I figured out a way to replace the soles.”
With a leap of ingenuity, Dilg bought some Velcro (the nappy adhesive) and fashioned fasten-on soles. His father, William, put up money for a patent, which was granted in July 1981. But Dilg, by then a student at Brigham Young University, found no takers. “One sporting-goods store owner told me it was the stupidest idea he had ever seen,” Dilg recalls. But in 1984 Jerry Turner, 50, president of American Sporting Goods, liked the concept and bought Dilg’s patent. (Although Turner made some design changes and replaced the Velcro with a material made by 3M, Dilg was paid a fee up front and gets a royalty.)
The running shoes, which come with two pairs of soles and sell for $89.95 (replacement soles cost $15 a pair), now are carried in more than 2,000 stores and have sold 30,000 pairs since they were introduced in February. Dilg now lives with wife Rebecca, 24, and children McKell, 4, and Ryan, 3, in Brigham City, Utah, where he is a rocket motor engineer. He envisions the day when, as Turner puts it, mothers will tell their children, “Don’t come into the house without taking off those muddy soles!”