Skip to content

Entrepreneur of the Year: Crystal Kaufman

“I definitely have a soft spot for the Northern communities and the people are very grateful, which makes it worthwhile.”

Since opening her North Bay pedorthic clinic in 2007, Crystal Kaufman has set a standard of excellence within the BioPed franchising chain.

Her inaugural year in business, Kaufman distanced herself in sales from other first-year clinics by a margin of 25 per cent, and then grew by an additional 31 per cent during her second year, bettering some clinics in the GTA.

Sales have continued to grow as her reach across northeastern Ontario has expanded.

For the North Bay-raised Kaufman, her passion to help people and improve their quality of life is evident with the enthusiasm she has for her profession.

“I think I’m just a highly driven person. It has its faults, but it’s always about setting goals for myself and making sure I obtain them. That’s really the way I work with everything. I know I drive some people crazy.”

BioPed provides custom orthotics, lower-limb bracing, compression stockings, and orthopaedic footwear.

As a certified pedorthist, Kaufman is trained to assess lower limb conditions and biomechanics, and offer non-surgical treatment options.

When Kaufman opened the North Bay clinic at age 26, her aim was to become the premier provider in the city.

“I think it really snowballed from there in how fast I was able to grow.”

Soon after opening in North Bay, she was establishing satellite clinics in New Liskeard and Huntsville.

“Going up to New Liskeard is great and it’s probably one of my highlights,” said Kaufman, who attends to her patients there every two to four weeks.

“I definitely have a soft spot for the Northern communities and the people are very grateful, which makes it worthwhile.”

Kaufman’s North Bay location has expanded in acquiring an adjoining commercial unit on Airport Road to gain some extra space.

Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed by the parent company and BioPed Footcare’s national director of operations, Vanessa Carnovale, who calls Kaufman an “exceptional entrepreneur” who gives “unparalleled” time and attention to her patients that’s resulted in word-of-mouth referrals and continuous growth.

“Crystal’s business acumen combined with her willingness to help others, has resonated with her patients, local physicians and the community as a whole and has underpinned her success.”

Key to her success has been cultivating and building relationships with clients and local physicians from whom she gains patient referrals.

“I gain their trust that they would send their own mother or children to me.

Not everyone that comes into my clinic leaves with orthotics. I think that honesty in building an ethical business makes me stand apart. It’s not about short-term gain, you have to look into the future.

“I hope that I can attribute a lot of my success to that. But this is what I love.”

Kaufman graduated with a degree in kinesiology from Brock University and landed a job as a pedorthic intern at a BioPed in Sudbury, working alongside senior pedorthist Robin White who became her role model and mentor.

Mentorship is huge to Kaufman, who has partnered with her former North Bay intern Nicole Reid, in opening a BioPed in Sault Ste. Marie.

“She wanted to run her own business and I offered to help,” said Kaufman. “That became her goal. We talk on the phone almost every night, going through things. It’s wonderful to give back that way and see her growing.”

To supplement her staff of two, Kaufman willingly takes in interns, medical students and post-secondary students for placements. “We do have people coming and going.”

As a married mother of two, Kaufman admits it’s a struggle to juggle the demands of running three shops, but she’s learned to prioritize and delegate to her staff.

“I have been blessed with wonderful staff who care about the business as much as I do. That’s something you can’t teach or train in people. Those are character traits and I’ve been lucky to find those people.”