By Kathy Williams
Chad Hollis (BS/ME ’99) gets to spend his days doing what he loves—helping people improve their quality of life.
Hollis is vice president of research and development and co-founder of CrossRoads Extremity Systems, a foot and ankle medical device company he started with two colleagues in 2014.
Based in Memphis, the company designs, manufacturers, and distributes implant systems to treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, such as bunions, hammertoe, arthritis, and flatfoot.
“I love to see the unfolding of a ‘napkin-sketch’ idea into a final device in the operating room that is implanted into a patient to help them achieve a better quality of life,” said Hollis. “I have met many patients who are able to walk around, pain free, due to the skill of a surgeon using a device that started as a seed of a thought driving down the road.”
Hollis’s company is regulated by the FDA so all their products and processes must be cleared prior to proceeding to market. Currently, CrossRoads has a portfolio of over 100 patents and patent applications that cover about a dozen product lines.
Hollis found his calling in orthopedics after working as a project engineer for six years in consumer products at Black and Decker.
“One of my directors from Black and Decker moved away to orthopedics in Memphis and invited me over for an interview at Wright Medical Technology where I started my orthopedic career designing total knee arthroplasty devices and ultimately designing product for their emerging extremities division (foot/ankle and hand/wrist),” said Hollis.
He spent five years at Wright Medical Technology working as a product development engineer. The connections he made in the industry and the love he gained for orthopedics during this time led him to where he is today.
Hollis credits the great education he received at UT for giving him the confidence to navigate his career path without hesitation.
“I have worked with colleagues from many great institutions—Harvard, MIT, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, etc.—and I have never felt that I wasn’t prepared to compete with or contribute alongside them,” said Hollis.
UT holds many fond memories for Hollis, including walking to class in the crisp fall air, home football games, and learning from some of the best minds in engineering. His favorite professor, Frank Speckhart, bridged the gap of science and practical application during his senior design class.
“Being a Vol For Life has afforded me a story to tell my kids—an example of a standard of excellence they can use to navigate their own choices in life,” said Hollis.
In addition to leading a successful medical device company, Hollis is also a registered US Patent Agent for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. When he does have free time, Hollis enjoys spending it with his wife of over 20 years, Summer, and their four children, Isabelle, Walker, Haddon, and Lucy.