GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - When Cinde Waller couldn't find anything to relieve her pain and support her jaw after undergoing reconstructive jaw surgery in 2007, she invented a brace that could do both.
"I tied a ribbon around my head," Waller, 52, said.
"I needed a brace, needed support and still be able to move my jaw. So I designed one."
Waller refined the homemade brace after consulting with her physician, Kenneth Perino, and physical therapist, Dan Babbel, and soon began making braces for other patients. Waller's 92-year-old mother Nedra Fields told her daughter to "patent it."
Waller secured a patent in 2010, and the following year founded TempOrthotics - maker of the "Stabilizer" brace for temporomandibular joint stabilization.
"We are the only product for TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders)," Waller said.
Waller has since added two other support braces: The "Immobilizer," for dental repositioning, and the "elevator" used for obstructive sleep apnea.
In November, less than two years after starting her business, Waller was named 2012-2013 "Woman of the Year" by the National Association of Professional Women, a 400,000-member association. The award came on the heels of learning she was a finalist for one of Colorado Technology Association's Apex Awards.
Several physicians have endorsed TempOrthotics, and, in August, Waller was accepted into the Society of Physician entrepreneurs.
Dr. Perino said he's recommended the device to other patients who've undergone jaw surgery.
"I've even used it myself to stabilize my jaw when I'm sleeping," to prevent tongue and cheek biting," Perino said. "It's a great additional application."
And, "it's simple, easy, and relatively inexpensive," he added.
In just 18 months, Waller has grown the small company into international markets, said Shawna Grieger of Advertising Strategies, one of several local people Waller refers to as her "support team."
Waller has customers throughout the U.S., as well as in Italy, Australia, Slovenia, and with interest is building in Germany and Poland, she said.
Waller balked when the investment company she was working with suggested she manufacture her product in China. Instead, she's manufacturing the items at Pro-Safe Medical Supply, 830 1/2 S. Seventh St. in Grand Junction.
"I wanted to stay local," Waller said. "I want to build jobs here in Mesa County."
TempOrthotics is located at the Business Incubator campus, 2591 Legacy Way. The Incubator helps new and expanding businesses by offering free consulting, low-cost business classes, affordable rental space and access to business loans.
"My company has succeeded because of the Business Incubator," Waller said.
"We're an extension of her staff - that's what we do here at the Incubator," Helen Roe said.
Roe, who's part of the Incubator management team, also credits Waller's tenacity.
"She's in it to make a difference," Roe said. "She lived through it. She created this product to curtail her pain and she wanted to share it. She's a true entrepreneur. It's quite amazing."
With a solid product and markets in place, Waller is now seeking private investors to take the company to the next level.
"I need investors now so I can grow," Waller said.
Incubator Marketing Director Terri Benson said it's impressive that Waller, a petite grandmother of seven, was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women.
"This is pretty gigantic," Benson said. "She's one person with a small business in a not very big town."
Waller also drives a truck escorting oversized loads for her other business, Lou's Pilot Car Services. And, she owns Aspen Options Editing and Proofreading, plus operates a horse refuge on three acres that she owns.
"I'm busy; I like to be busy," she said.
For more information visit www.TempOrthotics.com.