Suppliers, Labs, ECPs in Tri-State Region Start to Get Back on Track After Sandy

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Throngs of New Yorkers wait for
buses to take them from Brooklyn to Manhattan yesterday.

NEW YORK—The widespread disruption of power, transportation, communication and property damage caused by Monday's Hurricane Sandy has dealt several powerful hits to optical businesses in the Northeast, particularly the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey regions. But as hobbled infrastructures and services slowly start to come back, several optical companies are reporting that they have persevered and/or have resumed services to accounts around the country. Relief efforts for businesses in the core, affected areas, have also begun.

While VMail was able to make contact with several companies by Thursday evening, many more could not be reached due to inoperable phone and e-mail systems throughout the region.

In Westchester, Optical Distributor Group (ODG) and its Digital Eye Lab unit in Hawthorne, N.Y. has been minimally affected by Sandy. CEO Jeff Rems told VMail that the company has had electricity throughout the week, but a backup generator was in place if needed. "It's been ‘business as usual’ since Wednesday," said Rems.

Zyloware's Port Chester, N.Y. area was hit hard by power outages but Jamie Shyer said, "We brought in personnel to implement an emergency contingency plan. We brought in a skeleton crew on Thursday of managers, customer service, quality assurance and DC personnel. It was interesting working in the dark to get orders to our customers! We got headlamps for the DC people to help them with order picking and for safety. But we finally did get our power back along with e-mail and phone at the office. We were lucky."

Out on Long Island, N.Y. more companies were impacted by the power situation although some were able to use backup and out-of-town resources to keep things going.

Santinelli International's Gerard Santinelli told VMail, "We have no power in Dix Hills, but our auto generator is running so that our Hauppauge office was back fully operational starting yesterday (Wednesday)."

Marchon's president and CEO, Claudio Gottardi, said, "Our top priority is the safety and well being of our employees and customers. With assurances that all are safe, we will turn our attention to standing side by side with our accounts to ensure a fast recovery to their impacted practices. For those not impacted by the storm, we are business as usual without limits. Orders are being received and shipped on time."

On Wednesday, David Friedfeld, president of ClearVision Optical, said, "We are up and shipping. We have limited internet and phones, but our IT department performed some miracles! We are back to normal now though we are still assessing the situation for our customers."

Tura Great Neck is up and running, according to Audrey Pavia, VP marketing, who added, "Some of us came in—some of us not—and some are working from home, where possible. However, Tura's Muncy, Pa. facility never went down—that’s where our warehouse and distribution center are. So things were not affected there."

A spokesperson for Luxottica told VMail, "Like many, our first priority was for our employees in areas directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Luxottica's offices and call center in New York City and Port Washington, N.Y. were closed during the storm, while our B2B operations continued to work around the clock to support our customer needs across the country."

She continued, "Without damage to Luxottica distribution facilities in Atlanta and Ontario, we have been working through Hurricane Sandy to keep orders processed and meet the needs of customers throughout areas of the country not affected by the storm.

"For those that have experienced damages, starting today we began a customer outreach campaign to offer our support. Luxottica also supports our customers through a 'disaster relief' program that's designed to help businesses get back on their feet once recovery begins." More details on the relief program will be provided soon, she said.

Relief efforts are spreading. Candace Keating, marketing manager of San Diego-based Shamir told VMail, "As of yesterday, we expanded our Technical Support for our lab partners, due to Hurricane Sandy. We want to ensure that our Technical Team is available around the clock to answer questions and assist those labs that might be experiencing issue producing Freeform jobs due to complications Sandy may have brought on. We want to ensure that our lab partners are aware."

CooperVision ECP posted that it is sending support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy by encouraging CooperVision’s employees to donate to the American Red Cross. "CooperVision will match all employee donations so that we can help make a difference to those in need."

As reported by VMail on Wednesday, VSP has started outreach and relief efforts for doctors and members while the AOA is also encouraging ODs impacted by Sandy to learn more about relief aid at the Optometry Cares Foundation website.