Celebrating a Centennial in Salt Lake

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By Delia Paunescu: Assistant Editor

 
Mayor Ralph Becker (l) presents the proclamation that June 4 is Standard Optical Day in Salt Lake City to Stephen and Aaron Schubach (r). 
Having a family-owned business isn’t out of the ordinary in the optical industry. Having a family-owned business last 100 years is certainly out of the ordinary in any industry. But that’s exactly what the Utah-based Standard Optical is celebrating this year.

Standard Optical was founded in Salt Lake City in 1911 by Henry Schubach and his brother William. “Henry’s vision of responding to the demand of the market and providing a ‘recession-proof’ product would allow Standard Optical to survive for decades,” said Aaron Schubach, Henry’s great grandson and Standard’s current vice president. Henry’s sons Robert and Richard Schubach took over the business just after World War II, with Robert selling his shares to Richard in the 1980s. Today, Standard Optical is in the hands of Stephen Schubach, CEO, who also bought his own brothers out, and his son, Aaron, who was brought on after finishing his education at Utah State University.

 
Aaron Schubach (l) and Charmant Group’s Bob Schmidt.
Though still family-owned, Aaron is quick to point out that employees have taken ownership when it comes to the direction of Standard. Said Aaron, “I am not just the leader of a company; I am a steward for a 100-year-old legacy that is the communal property of all Standard Optical employees and all Utah citizens. It’s ours together and I have the duty to protect and grow this pseudo-public property.”

This duty came to Aaron when his father Stephen asked him to join the family business in 1999. “I love Standard Optical but I knew the image needed modernizing. I agreed to come to work only if he allowed me to make some major changes,” Aaron said. These included modernizing the 88-year-old logo and investing “vigorously” in both Lasik and the vision insurance company, what today is Opticare of Utah and Opticare Plus Vision. “In my family, there is no right or privilege to Standard Optical. If I wasn’t the right person or didn’t possess the appropriate skills, my father would not have offered me a job. I have to earn my keep every day.”

 
Former NBA coach Frank Layden reminisces about the Schubach family and Standard Optical during the centennial gala.
Today, Aaron and Stephen run the 18-location business and take pride in having fun with their careers. Aaron said this includes being inventive, forward thinking and revolutionary. With a media presence spanning daily television spots, web marketing, targeted mail, social media, morning show appearances and an internet radio show that Aaron hosts, it seems that Standard Optical is everywhere potential patients might hear about them. Standard even has a relationship with Solo-Health for self-administering vision screening kiosks.


Jim Galinsky of Zyloware with the Schubach Girls.

Marcie Schwartz, ABO manager for 30 years, receives the Manager of the Century Award during the centennial celebration.
To celebrate their long-running success, Standard Optical held a centennial gala at Salt Lake City’s McCune Mansion on June 4. Among the 370 guests were Salt Lake City’s mayor Ralph Becker, who declared it Standard Optical Day, Zyloware’s Jim Galinsky, NBA coach Frank Layden, as well as Standard staff and models in Schubach Original frames.

“I am honored, blessed and humbled that thisis happening,” Aaron said of the celebration. “So many people came before me that were instrumental in creating [our] success. So many things had to fall into place for this day to come.”

But don’t expect Standard to take a break any time soon. The company recently launched a free form laboratory partnership and plans to open two more locations. Commitments to grow their frame segment and expand their insurance presence aren’t far behind.

“Our commitment to the long-term care of our patients is evident at every encounter. Certainly, this alone does not make a company great, but combined with value, extended services and the best quality products in the industry has afforded us with 100 years of success,” Aaron said.

dpaunescu@jobson.com