A story of passion, commitment and partnership

A portrait of Tonus, a leading Italian company in the area of healthy feet

In the 1960s, Anna Tonus was a pioneering nurse in the intensive care unit at Venice’s Umberto I Hospital. Having moved from the lagoon city to the hinterland, however, she now found hospital life less stimulating. What remained close to her heart, however, was the health of her patients.

This is how TONUS, a company specialising in foot care and well-being, was founded in 1975. Since then it has been run with entrepreneurial verve and day-to-day commitment: the values passed on by Anna Tonus to her son Antonio Gaiani, Orthopaedic Technical Manager at the Foot Laboratory, who has been with the company since 1988.

A path of ever-increasing growth

TONUS today is a business in expansion: it covers an area of 1,700 m² and is divided into three sectors: Health Orthopaedics, headed by the company’s founder; the Auxiliary Devices Area; and the Foot Laboratory, headed by Gaiani.

But what underlies this enormous success? Gaiani smiles in amusement: “My paranoia”, he says. “I inherited it from my mother: we look after everything, right down to the last detail. We listen to the customer, who is in fact at the centre of our world. We take the time to explain and let people try out our products.” His enthusiasm is engaging: “Good bread rises slowly. The same principle applies to us: customers must be accompanied with just the right composure. Even after a purchase, we offer an all-round service: we carry out some 4,000 after-sales checks a year. I work to make a profit, of course – but I live on satisfaction”.

Antonio Gaiani is well aware that excellent service requires specific skills, dedication and a sense of responsibility, all features that distinguish those who contribute to the growth of TONUS.

Functionality, the true quality of a shoe

Are foot problems on the increase? Gaiani has very clear ideas, and here too his analysis is quite lucid. “People are living much longer and our supporting structures wear out more easily. Originally, human beings ran barefoot through the savannah, whereas nowadays we live in shoes and walk on hard surfaces”, he explains. “Shoes affect our posture and they condition our walking, but people tend to choose them according to aesthetic characteristics.”

So how do you choose a good shoe? Gaiani clarifies: “I prefer to talk about functional footwear, not about orthopaedic shoes. But you always have to start with the wearer’s personal history.” 

Because we find ourselves standing a lot, shoes have to have very precise characteristics: they must be stable, cushioned and lace-up in style, all so as not to cause compression of the forefoot. In a word: functional.


Dialogue and preparation: working together, step by step

“It is only very recently that the (non-sporting) footwear world has shown an interest in cushioning. FinnComfort, on the other hand, has always taken this into account, starting with the pouched construction of the footwear.” This is where Gaiani’s technical expertise comes into play: TONUS resells the German brand and has the highest purchase volumes in Italy.

“We believed in the potential and excellence of FinnComfort from the very outset: our customers appreciate the care that this German brand – distributed in Italy by NaturalLook since 1987 – takes about the good fit of its products. Our premises mean we can offer a wide range. Once we explain and let people try on a premium quality shoe like FinnComfort, the sale is practically guaranteed – and the sales figures speak for themselves. Thanks also to the invaluable cooperation of our distributor NaturalLook, which not only offers a fast and efficient restocking service, but also allows us to submit requests to present products that are ever more suited to the Italian market. This focused, competent support is also assured by our new area agent, Ivan Bano. Now I just hope that they will produce the shoes in the colour shades I requested!” he smiles.

What about other projects for the future? “We are considering opening a new Birkenstock shop-in-shop, a ‘cult’ brand that has always paid particular attention to orthopaedic aspects. I love well-run projects that ensure that both the brand and our company will obtain the right value.”


These are results that are achieved through passion, commitment and also via solid and long-lasting partnerships – such as that with NaturalLook.