Entrepreneur of the Year: Larry Feeler
Native Odessan Larry Feeler founded Odessa Physical Therapy in 1982 as he and his partner saw a need to bring broad spectrum technology and innovation to every aspect of out -patient rehabilitation in Odessa. In 1986, his father, who owned a pipeline construction business in Odessa, was experiencing uncontrollable workplace injuries and expenses that were threatening the viability oi his business. Larry designed a “medical & functional” physical specific to the pipeline industry to begin to “screen” prospective employees for weakness and or preexisting injuries that limited their ability to demonstrate they could safely perform the essential functions of their job. This simple process of matching each worker‘s safe physical ability to their individual job functions was revolutionary and so effective that injury rates and their costs were reduced by 75% the first year. Today, WorkSTEPS is the largest functional employment testing system in the United States with over 600 test sites in 48 states. As a result, thousands of clinicians, providers and marketing personnel have come to Odessa from all over the United States and Europe to participate in 3-4 day training sessions held at the local facility. The WorkSTEPS database now houses over 1.3 MILLION workers. it has thousands of tests entered weekly and is also the largest industrial human database comprised in the entire United States. This information has been invaluable in not only preventing injuries and creating effective work injury management, but also in its significant contribution to ergonomics and science through many articles and studies that Mr. Feeler and associate authors have published.
Larry Feeler is a physical therapist, a certified ergonomic assessment specialist (CEAS) and is the founder and President of Odessa Physical Therapy, as well as founder and CEO of WorkSTEPS. He is the president of Wellness and Excellence Rehab Center in Tempe, Arizona. He has been a consulting teacher for Odessa College and Texas Tech Physical Therapy Programs. served as president and district chair of the local physical therapy district, served on the Advisory Committee of the Odessa College Physical Therapy Assistant Program. and volunteered as the sports trainer tor Midland Christian School He recently served on the committee to host “Walk On” which is a horse back riding event for physically challenged children and young adults, He currently serves as a board member of Sherwood Christian School where his children attend school in Odessa Professionally, Mr. Feeler has served as a board member and PAC chairman of the Texas Physical Therapy Association’s Government Affairs Committee, as a consultant to the Texas Industrial Accident Board, as a consultant to the World Safety Organization, as a faculty member and consultant to the American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians, as a certified claims reviewer for the Texas Physical Therapy Association, and was recently awarded the “Distinguished Alumni’ Award from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He has spoken on nationally syndicated television programs, was invited to testify at the OSHA hearings in Washington regarding the proposed “Ergonomic Standard”, and has been a keynote and invited speaker for hundreds of seminars throughout the United States teaching thousands of students, employers, employees, business organizations and others about the business and processes developed in Odessa. Texas, He has authored in texts such as “Spine” and “State of the Art Reviews”, publications such as the “Journal of Disability”, Occupational Health and Safety”, “Rehab Management” and many more. Mr. Feeler currently serves on the American Physical Therapy’s Occupational Health Special Interest Group which provides guidelines for functional testing to the profession. He also currently serves as a board member to the Richard J. Pimentel Foundation that trains and enlists employers who hire veterans with post traumatic stress disorder.