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  March 7, 2013
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Making It an Event-Full Year

By dba Staff


With so many trade shows held this month alone, owners and managers of mid-size local and regional optical groups must be selective about which to attend. The following optical retailers told dba which optical events they attend throughout the year and why: Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical; Ira Haber, co-owner and president, Europtics; Diana J. Hall, president, Bard Optical; Rachel Sivi, vice president, Real Optics Inc.; Pierre Keyser, founder and CEO, American Optical Services; and Amanda Ditch, vice president of operations, Clarkson Eyecare.

 

Gordon A. Bishop, FNAO, ABOC, RO, CEO and president, Sunland Optical, El Paso, Texas.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

Every year, we at Sunland look at all the major optical shows that are being put on and where they are located and then assess the value of each of them to our organization. For us, the events that provide the most value to our organization are Vision Expo East and West, which we have attended on an annual basis for many years.

The fact that all the major vendors along with the main decision makers for these organizations are in attendance is a big plus, we get immediate answers and are able to discuss the big picture much more easily than at the smaller venues. At Vision Expo East, we are able to plan with them for the year and then follow up at Vision Expo West to see where we are in relation to our original plan and adapt if necessary. We also get to see and meet some of the international vendors to examine what might be the next trend in the optical arena and source new suppliers.

In addition, we are able to mingle with other decision makers of other chains, both big and small, to discuss what they are doing differently in today"s marketplace in regards to marketing, product selection, staffing and education venue in order to adapt to the ever-changing marketplace. Our staff are able to take advantage of the educational venues to increase both their optical and retail knowledge while mingling with other retailers to gain additional industry knowledge.

The Vision Monday Global Summit event held annually at Vision Expo East is an event that I have attended for several years and consider it to be the premier optical event of the year. Here is where we get to hear what is perhaps coming down the pipeline that might affect our optical segment and in addition hear from some of the top retail gurus in the marketplace as to what their opinions are as to what is happening or going to happen in the retail marketplace.

 

Ira Haber, co-owner and president, Europtics, Denver, Colo.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

I and/or other people from Europtics attend all Vision Expos, East and West. We don't want to miss out on any exciting developments in ophthalmic optics, and the Vision Expos are valuable for learning of these first hand. Europtics also belongs to a group of opticians and optometrists that meets twice a year known as Eastern Optical Research Group (EORG). The purpose of EORG is not to endeavor to obtain better pricing from suppliers but to learn from one another regarding actions they have taken that have succeeded or failed. We believe that if we don't attend assiduously, we won't be at the top of our game. At different times we have been to Mido and Silmo. We have not gotten as much from international shows as we get from Vision Expos and EORG meetings.

 

Diana J. Hall, president, Bard Optical, Peoria, Ill.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

Although the international trade shows sound exciting, we find that the interaction with peers at Vision Expo East and West provide us with the feedback we need. Of course, international vendors always have a significant presence at these shows as well. We look at these shows as an opportunity to stay up on the trends in frames, equipment, lenses and sales techniques. Whether we take additional staff to the meetings depends upon the topics being presented and their current needs. Otherwise, only senior management attends.

We also enjoy Vision Expo East and West because we schedule meetings with our peers to coincide with those events. Our national alliance of eyecare providers, Opti-Port, holds meetings that same week, so we are able to share business topics with those members and gather their input on the shows. We often share recommendations on what to see at the shows with those Opti-Port members and always meet with our Opti-Port vendors. We also attend two meetings each year with an optical information-sharing group comprised of approximately ten member companies of similar size from around the nation.

 

Rachel Sivi, vice president, Real Optics Inc., Des Moines, Ia.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

We split up the shows between Vision Expo East and Vision Expo West. As owners of the company, my father and I usually attend East and send our general manager to West. Because I do the majority of my buying via reps who come visit me; the only buying that I focus on is in the budget category. I don't have local reps in for those price points, so it's always nice to see new models up close and in person. In addition, a big reason to attend VEE is to go to the annual meeting for Opti-Port, the buying group we have been involved with for many years now. It's always a good time to catch up with our counterparts in different parts of the country and share ideas with one another.

 

Pierre Keyser, founder & CEO, American Optical Services, Las Vegas, Nev.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

AOS team members attend the Vision Expos in New York and Las Vegas only. These shows require a significant time commitment, which our team needs to balance with the day-to-day requirement of running our fast growing organization. The main draw of the shows is the ability to see all our vendors in a short period of time and from time to time discover new products. The latter is becoming less and less relevant as new vendors seek us out and travel to our headquarters.

 

Amanda Ditch, vice president of operations, Clarkson Eyecare, Ellisville, Mo.

With so many trade shows held this month alone, plus the many other optical events held both nationally and internationally throughout the year, which trade shows and meetings do you and your key staff members attend and why?

A few of our key managers and/or doctors attend nearly every major trade show each year. Not everyone goes to each show, but a small group of representatives are selected based on the key needs of the company. Those needs, of course, not only dictate who goes, but why we attend, whether it's for frames, contact lenses, ophthalmic equipment, lab equipment, accessories or CE classes.



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