I sat down, via Skype Video, with Jim Coppins, Vice-President of Infinite Therapeutics, in a 1/2 hour, 2-part interview to discuss the company, it’s product line, and the very popular IT-8200 and IT-8500 massage chair models. Here is Part 1 of that interview, along with the transcripts.
Transcript of Video Titled “Interview with Jim Coppins VP at Infinite Therapeutics (Part 1)”
Dr. Alan Weidner: Well, hello.
Jim: Hello. Dr. Weidner, how are you?
Alan: Good, Jim. Nice to meet you.
Jim: Nice to meet you.
Alan: Thank you so much for making time to visit with me on Skype today. I really appreciate this, I know you’re busy.
Jim: My pleasure, Doctor. Honestly, you’re one of our best dealers, so we appreciate the press, and spending some time with you.
Alan: Well, thank you. I’ll just go ahead and introduce you to our viewing audience. This is Jim Coppins, who’s the vice president of Infinite Therapeutics, the company that brings us the now very popular IT-8200 and 8500. And also the IT-9800, which was their flagship chair, and the IT-7800, which is at the lower end of the price range. All very nice chairs, Jim. I know I’ve got three of them in my showroom. I’ve got the IT-7800, the IT-9800, and the IT-8200, and the IT-8500 just came out, I don’t have that one yet, but we hope to have that one in the showroom. But welcome, thank you very, very much, really good to have you here.
Jim: Thank you, Doctor.
Alan: Now, maybe what we could do – what we could begin with doing, is just asking you – I’d like to, first of all, know a little bit about your company. Like, I know that you’ve been around a while, I – when Kirk was still was with you – I talked to him quite a while before, but maybe you could give us a brief summary of your story.
Jim: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’d love to. The operating companies actually go back in to the ’90s. They were started by my partner, a gentleman named Michael Garceau. We’re actually in a number of different technologies. We were actually working a trade show back in 2009 for one of our other operating companies, and came across a company exhibiting massage chairs. We both sat in the chairs, and were – enjoyed the product – and that kind of started us down the road to look at the industry, to look to the technologies, et cetera. We started to research different manufacturing houses, different designs, we actually went over and toured a number of facilities in Taiwan and in China, kind of began at the design phase of it. And then, back in 2010, we actually launched the first, the flagship, the IT-9800, and from there, it’s been a lot of fun, very exciting, we really enjoy the field as opposed to some of the other operating business that we’re in, and things have gone very well.
Alan: Well, that is great. Now, the 9800, now that was a Taiwanese-made chair, that is a Taiwanese-made chair, correct?
Jim: Correct. It is.
Alan: And so, we’ve tried to educate our viewers about the differences between the chairs of the different companies, and the majority of chairs are made in mainland China, and there’s some that are made in Japan, but this is one of the few that I’m aware of that are actually made in Taiwan. I understand the NEOX chair – I don’t know if that’s around anymore – is very similar that style, but what was it that attracted you to that 9800, what was it that, what was the hook that got you?
Jim: You make a couple of interesting points between Taiwan, China, and Japan, but as far as the 9800, we really felt originally – and our thought processes have changed somewhat – but that people would appreciate the luxurious look of the 9800, being a chair that wouldn’t look out of place in your living room. We took that chair, we wrapped it, as you know, in 100% all leather. It has a lot of great features to it, but really our decision to design that chair, and go down the road, and launch with the 9800, really was from an aesthetics standpoint, that it really was a great looking chair, a very comfortable chair, and that’s why we came out of the gate with it.
Alan: Yeah, it is a very nice chair, I like it. I had sat on one a couple of years ago, and I really liked the ‘Sway’ feature of the ottoman. That was kind of a unique thing I’d never seen, and another thing that’s kind of unique about that chair is it doesn’t have any airbags in it, I understand, it’s all rollers.
Jim: Exactly. It’s all roller driven and baffle driven. It is a unique system compared to – there’s not many chairs on the market today, as you point out, that don’t have airbags in them – and I think that that focus is more Taiwanese than, per say, than product that comes out of mainland China.
Alan: Yeah. Well, it’s very nice chair, I really enjoy it. The other thing I found cool was the ‘Inversion’ feature. Now, as a chiropractor, I used to have many, many patients that had inversion tables, and used it at home, and were interested in that therapy because it helped them decompress the low back. And now, I see that that chair combines that with the zero gravity, it’s very nice, I’ve never that on – the ‘Inversion’ – on another chair before.
Jim: The 9800, there’s a reason for that. It, as you know, it takes more technology and more motors to drive that ‘Inversion,’ and to be able to get the front of the chair up that high. It is a nice feature, it’s actually a feature I enjoy quite a bit. I normally jump in a 9800 on almost a daily basis to release some tension in my back.
Alan: I noticed the remote control on that chair is quite different from what I’m accustomed to with other Chinese-made chairs. It’s a little different layout, a little – it looks like a little different engineering thought pattern went in to it – but it is a different type of remote. Have you had people make comments about that at all, or any push back or comments about it?
Jim: No. I think like any technology, once you sit in it and start to play with it, it’s pretty intuitive, it’s pretty simple. You know, if you started out with that remote versus – a Taiwanese remote versus a Chinese remote, or vice versa – I think you’d be pretty comfortable with either one in a short matter of time.
Alan: Yeah. It’s a very, very nice chair, really, really like that chair. Now, this 8200, it seems to me as though you’ve kind of hit a home run with this thing, or at least this 8000 series. I know you’ve got the 8200 now, and the 8500, and we kind of got on board with you, just around the time the 8200 was introduced to the market, and it’s been a steady, top seller for us, and now the IT-8500, even more so. You guys really, you did well with this one.
Jim: Yeah. We’re very pleased with it, and again, it was the shift from what we came out of the gate with, with the 9800, excuse me, being aesthetically very pleasing, to what we call really, our ‘Infinity Technology,’ which is the full-body, all-encompassing massage that really, for the end user, more often than not, as you know, can leave them speechless. I know Kirk told me the story you had a couple of chiropractors that came in on a regular basis, and their chair of choice was another well-known brand, and when they came in, and actually had a chance to sit in the 8200, that now became their favorite chair.
Alan: Yeah. That was actually the very day that Kirk was delivering them to me, is when they sat on it and fell in love with it, you know?
Jim: OK. OK. I heard a synopsis of the story, not the exact story, but it has been a home run for us, and really, as you know, when the user sits in that chair, and you have you know, the all-encompassing – you have the head roll, the shiatsu seat swivel, the arm airbags, the foot rollers, which many users love – it really takes the whole experience to another level. There’s not many people that sit in that chair that really aren’t thrilled with the experience.
Alan: Well, you know what, I would agree with that. The first time I sat in it I was really impressed with, it just had a – it felt like, it felt solid, it felt smooth, it felt good – and the impression I came away with was ‘Geez these, maybe these Chinese chairs, the quality of them is getting better and better,’ because I think that’s how it started with the Japanese chairs. I think years and years ago when I was a kid, and my parents were buying products outside of the U.S. or out of Canada, where I was from, the Japanese chairs were kind of, or sorry, Japanese products were kind of a lesser quality, but through the decades Japanese quality now is of course, well known and highly respected, and everybody wants it. And I think the Chinese manufacturing might be following a similar course, and I think they started off with a reputation of being really poor quality, but I get the sense that the Chinese quality is getting better in the massage chair arena. The IT-8200 and the 8500 kind of – kind of were, you know, was the thing that got me really believing that – do you sense that?
Jim: Absolutely. And there’s a few variables in that equation, that is, we do a lot obviously, in kind of the engineering, design, and manufacturing world. I think, in general, to say that the quality coming out of mainland China has improved significantly would be an accurate statement. Is there still problems coming out of China, absolutely. I mean, almost all electronics, my iPhone for instance, is made in China. Depending on the company that you’re working with, we actually have employees on the ground, in China, in the facilities on a daily basis doing quality control. If you’re with the right company, that cares about the product, that’s going to have the support on the back end, then you know you’re going to be delivered a quality product. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with all companies that you deal with, so to say everything that comes out of China is now at this new level, I don’t think would be an accurate statement. I think if you’re dealing with a reputable company that cares about their dealer network, and cares about their end users, I would say yes, you can have excellent quality coming out of China today.
Jim: I think the 8200 and the 8500, you can put that up against any chair, whether it be from China or Taiwan or Japan, and I don’t think there’s a better product on the market today.
Alan: Well, I’m glad to hear that since it’s your product you’re talking about, I like to hear that. The feature I really like about is the – well I mean, I like a lot of the features – but the foot rollers are something unique, we don’t see that in a lot of chairs. I think the Montage Pro from Omega, I think the Elite, one of the Elite chairs has it, and now your chairs have it, and it’s been a hit with my shoppers, and I like that feature a lot. I love it in the chair that I have in the showroom.
Jim: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. My wife loves that feature. Most women love that feature. Sometimes you’ll have some male users, it’s – who aren’t used to, if they’re not used to massage it will throw them a little bit – but I think in the long run they typically end up really enjoying it, but it absolutely is one of the major advances in the 8200 and the 8500.
Alan: Yeah, very nice. I also like the touch screen remote. I’d not seen that before, I mean, all the remotes have buttons, but yours is a touch screen. I kind of dig that. Was that your idea or was that just something new that’s coming out of the plant that you’re buying from, or how does that work?
Jim: No. It’s a new technology. We requested it in the design of the 8200. That’s what we wanted on the remote. It was an option, we didn’t have to have it, but as you mentioned, it’s one of the things that kind of, you know, puts it up there with the Elite chairs.
Alan: Yeah. I like it. I think it’s a nifty feature, and it’s kind of cool to play with, and of course, anything I see new, I get kind of excited about it, but now this new 8500, this thing, from what I understand, it looks exactly like the 8200. We’ve already had two of them delivered here to local clients, and my boys have gone out and set them up, but I personally have not sat in the chair, but I understand the massage experience is very similar as far as the rollers and the airbags go, but you’ve got some additional features in that one. Would you mind just going over those for us?
Jim: Absolutely. It actually has a different appearance, it’s similar. The 8500 came from, after we launched the 8200, obviously it was a great product, but we felt like we could’ve done better from an aesthetic standpoint, so we kind of came out of the gate with ourselves saying what, appearance-wise, we wanted to make the chair more appealing, and not that the 8200 – as you know, Doctor – isn’t a good looking chair, because it certainly is.
Jim: We felt like we could’ve, and maybe should’ve, done better, so that’s what drove the initial redesign.
Jim: And then we said, you know, obviously in any tweak or any redesign, potentially you’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars in tooling costs just to make a simple tweak.
Jim: Any manufacturer knows that, so we said to ourselves ‘If we’re going to do a redesign, what more can we add to the chair, how can we make it better obviously?’ And although it does look similar, we redesigned the earpiece and the speakers for a couple of different reasons. As the ‘InterSound Technology’ allows for a more personal experience with the music, it also afforded us more airbags in the shoulders to allow for a better grip, which allows the ‘V-Grip,’ and also enhances the ‘Spinal Correction.’ That was really kind of our – we said to ourselves ‘How can we improve these features?’ – and the the speaker redesign kind of enabled us to do that, to put the extra airbags on the shoulders …
Alan: Just to interrupt you briefly, those shoulder airbags, they are designed to inflate from the front, back on to the shoulders, so it’s pinning the shoulders back while the rollers go up and down, correct?
Jim: Correct. Exactly.
Jim: And they literally grip right on the sides, so it allows you to – in the ‘Stretch position as well – it holds you more securely, excuse me, it holds you more securely in the chair to allow for a better stretch, and then the ‘Spinal Correction,’ the same thing holds true.
Alan: Neat. OK, and I was interrupting you, you were talking about the differences between the 8500 and the 8200.
Jim: And then, we also – the ‘InterSound Technology,’ really whether you use the speakers just on the chair, that come with the chair – and then, we also added the headphone jack, which I believe is unique to the 8500, so it has a number of advances, and along with the programming. When you get there, and sit in it Doctor, I’ll be waiting for your review when you actually experience it, because I think you’ll find the overall experience is significantly better than the 8200.
Alan: Oh, well, I’m looking forward to it, and if sales are any indication, we’ve had a bunch of the 8500 sales already, and the chair’s only been out, what, three weeks, it looks very, very promising.
Jim: Yes. Yes. It has been. We’ve been very happy with the initial launch.
Here is the link to part 1 of this Infinite Therapeutics interview.