Former S.C. Johnson product designers invent new walker

11217 W. Forest Home
Ave. #5, Franklin
Innovation: The Tour walker

Combined, Jeremy Knopow and Jennifer Harris have more than 40 years of experience designing products for companies such as Kohler Co., S.C. Johnson & Son and Procter & Gamble Co.

They had long planned on starting a business together, but the inspiration for their company came to them about three years ago after several of their family members began using walkers.

“As product designers, when we saw what it was like when they used these things, we couldn’t help but have an itch to try to do something different, something better that fit our parents’ and grandparents’ needs, as well as their personal style and taste,” Harris said.

Harris and Knopow’s desire to create an improved walker led to the creation of their Franklin-based business, Motivo, and its first product: the Tour.

There are primarily two versions of walkers. The first is the ubiquitous, basic walker with the tennis balls on the ends. The problems with that walker, according to Harris and Knopow, are that it has no storage space, no places to carry food or beverages and no seat.

The more recent walker is the rollator (rolling walker). While it is an improvement over the basic walker because it has a seat and storage area, the Motivo co-founders said the seat prevents the user from getting close to objects like a kitchen sink or table, and the user has to get off the seat to access the storage area. Additionally, the storage area compresses when the walker is folded up, requiring the user to continually empty it.

Motivo co-founders Jeremy Knopow and Jennifer Harris were inspired to invent the Tour walker by the needs of their own family members.

The rollator also still has no place to carry a plate or other everyday items.

“Lastly, there’s just the medical-looking nature of it. People look at this and still feel like a patient when they’re using it,” Knopow said. “That was the other key element we wanted to address: how do we help people’s sense of pride rather than demote it, which is what some of these products do.”

Harris and Knopow believe the Tour solves all these problems.

First, the stow-away padded seat slides into the side compartment, allowing the user to walk naturally inside the Tour and upright, as opposed to behind it and hunched over. This feature also makes it easier to reach everyday items.

In addition, the 19.5-pound Tour boasts an accessible, built-in, private storage compartment that does not have to be emptied or removed when it is folded up. Finally, the Tour contains a tray and two cup holders.

After hundreds of hours of user testing, countless prototypes and nearly three years of research and development, Harris and Knopow began shipping the Tour — named to symbolize their intent for users to go out and live their lives with it — to dealers and consumers at the end of March.

The Tour, which is produced by an undisclosed southeastern Wisconsin manufacturer, is available online at or from home medical equipment dealers across the country, including Knueppel HealthCare Services Inc. in Racine and West Allis.

To celebrate the Tour, a public launch party is scheduled for Thursday, April 9, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the West Allis location of Knueppel, 1444 S. 113th St.

The Tour retails for $549. Users can select the color (salsa red, midnight black or champagne), and they may also purchase an optional removable graphic for $38.95 for further personalization.

Knopow and Harris wanted to create a walker that would improve upon the basic walker (far left) and the rollator (far right).

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