Having worked closely with lab owners for the last 12 years, I still do not understand why most labs cannot easily pull relevant information
about their financial and operational results with the touch of a button. It seems that for all of the talent and technology available, many labs are
still not using software programs that enable the user to write custom job reports over multiple periods and also have full access to a comprehensive
and linked bookkeeping software package.
A comprehensive reporting system could have some significant advantages. Labs would have the ability to quickly reconcile third party payments. Often,
labs devote an entire position to reconciling third party payments which costs wages, benefits, etc. Additionally, the lab would not have to wait for
the monthly payment from the third-party plan to know exactly what they were owed.
Another advantage would be timeliness of information. Often, when a lab owner needs a report that is a little bit different than the standard
reports available in their system or draws on data older than the most recent 13 months, they must call on their software provider for a
“custom report.” This frequently results in a delay in getting the needed information and costs hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Also, a comprehensive reporting system could allow in-depth customer analysis. Being able to quickly analyze customer usage trends, sales, and
profitability can help the lab in negotiation with customers and vendors. The lab could be better at identifying profitable customers and have a
better idea where to focus resources.
Lastly, the integration of the laboratory management system with the financial reporting system could enhance the speed of financial reporting
process. Many of the financial accounts could be linked automatically to the operating system including sales, receivables, and inventory, thereby
eliminating duplicate entry when the books are closed for the month.
Having comprehensive, integrated, and timely information is crucial to competing effectively. Without this information, labs—and
their owners—spend scarce time and money collecting data when action is what is needed.
—Jason A. Meyer is senior vice president,
HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories. You can send comments or questions about this article or any other Dollars
& Sense articles to Jason Meyer at
OLA to Co-Locate 2010 Annual Meeting With Expo West
After several months of debate among its members, the Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) has decided to co-locate its annual meeting at International Vision Expo West.
The move represents an historic change for the OLA, which has traditionally held its annual meeting as a separate event. OLA officials emphasized
that the new venue and meeting format offers OLA members an array of benefits.
OLA said it will distribute detailed information about the 2010 Annual Meeting throughout the lab industry, and is working closely with
International Vision Expo West to ensure that OLA exhibitors are accommodated at the show.
Click here for more details.
Lab Veteran Jack Benjamin Dies at 72
Jack Benjamin, co-founder of Laramy-K Optical laboratory, passed away at his home in Indianola, Iowa on March 30 after a battle with lung cancer.
He was 72 years old.
Benjamin, also known as JB, started his optical career in the Navy. Following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1957, he worked at
Chesapeake Optical in Baltimore, Md. and at Lens Tech in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., one of the first labs in the country to successfully process
plastic lenses. Benjamin later moved to Beaverton, Ore., where he was co-owner of Pioneer Optics.
He later worked at Ultra Optics in Fort Lauderdale, Midwest Uncuts in Indianola, Iowa before founding Laramy-K Optical in Indianola with his wife,
of almost 36 years, Janet.
In addition to Janet, Benjamin is survived by his son Keith and daughters Amy and Lara.
Donations can be made in his memory at the following Web sites:
The American Cancer Society
Varilux Announces Video Contest Winners
Essilor announced the winners of its Varilux “Vision to Action” video contest last month during International Vision Expo. The contest
challenged wholesale labs that belong to Essilor’s independent distribution division (IDD) to create a 60-second or less, Varilux-branded video
referencing the 2010 Varilux product portfolio.
Cherry Optical of Green Bay, Wis., won the Best Varilux branded award for its “Realtor Video—Buying a Home” video. The award was
voted on by the Varilux Brand Team. Cherry Optical also won the People's Choice Award for its “Grocery Store” video, which was voted on by ECPs.
NEA Optical of Jonesboro, Ark., won The Most Creative Award with its “Online Dating” video. The award winner was determined by the
Varilux brand sales organization.
Grand prizes include a free ad in Vision Monday and the possibility that the video may be used in a viral Internet marketing campaign for Varilux.
The winning videos can be viewed at
Michael Bamberg @ Pinnacle Optical
In 2006, 19 year-old Michael Bamberg got his first job in the optical industry, working as a part-time assistant at the drilled rimless
Pinnacle Optical Laboratory
in Birmingham, Ala. “The math and physical precision needed to do drill work came absolutely naturally.
I loved it. I remember drawing up little templates for the ‘perfect drill chart’ for each manufacturer’s frame style,” said Bamberg, who quickly
showed his aptitude for the job and soon was hired as Pinnacle Optical’s full-time drilled rimless technician.
In addition to his responsibilities as technician, Bamberg has a keen mind for mechanical troubleshooting of the lab equipment. “Somehow I
managed to convince my boss to let me tamper with some of the finishing equipment when a machine failure would occur,” said Bamberg. “I
am proud to say that three years later, I’m the solo maintenance crew for the finishing department, with little to no machine failure, due to one
crazy idea of additional preventative maintenance and a little TLC.”
Aside from maintenance and drilled rimless work, Bamberg fulfills various other roles within the lab. He is responsible for all the Chemistrie sun
clip jobs that come to the lab, personally customizing each one. Bamberg also takes pleasure in edging several jobs every week to “stay up to
date” on ever-changing frame styles. It provides a challenge, his favorite part of his job with Pinnacle Optical, and allows him to help other
edger operators as well.
Bamberg’s enthusiasm for his job is obvious. “I love those old antique frames and the exotic European frames that seem impossible
to put a pair of prescription lenses in…it’s what makes my job extremely fun. But simply to be part of a process that gives people the
ability to see...that’s a huge deal.”
LabTalk Spotlight April 2010
It Takes a Village...Tricks of the Trade
By Julie Bos
In a 1996 speech, Hillary Clinton made famous the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The basic meaning?
That raising a child is a communal effort—and that no man, woman or family is an island. Perhaps the same holds true for the lens laboratory
community. Despite differences in size, location or niche focus, labs can find huge strength in their commonality. In this article, we’ve called on
our “village” to share its accumulated knowledge—and assembled some innovative solutions to common (and maybe not-so-common) lens
processing challenges. Feel free to put them to use in your own lab.
When surfacing extreme curve combinations with large blanks going into smaller eye sizes, the blank has a tendency to separate from the
block when generating. Separation of the blank from the lens is caused by vibration between the cutting wheel and the blank while being
We trim down larger blanks for extreme curve combination in the edger first, and then generate them. This eliminates vibration on the lens
since it doesn’t have to be cribbed down, and eliminates separation from the block. It also reduces pad marks since there’s less lens area
to fine and polish. —Submitted by iCoat Company, Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
It’s a frequent lab occurrence that a lens doesn’t pass surfacing inspection because of defective surface, wave, or the lens is out of
power. Whatever the case, if the center thickness can be reduced by .1mm to .3 mm, there’s a reasonable chance that the lens can be
re-blocked and resurfaced—particularly worth the try on high-cost blanks or rush jobs. The problem is particularly evident when
re-blocking the lens on alloy, which is again becoming more common, because it appears to be the method of choice for high
definition/free form processing of organic lenses. Many labs have given up resurfacing minus plastic lenses because too often,
even though the scratch or surface issue has been resolved, the re-surfaced minus lenses comes out of power and labs consider
it an exercise in futility.
The reason for the loss of power is that when blocking lenses, the hot alloy fills the cavity of the block or other blocking cavity and encapsulates
the front curve of the lens. The hot alloy (around 120° F or more), has larger volume when in liquid state than in solid state. The hot alloy starts
cooling off and solidifying first around the edges of the block because that’s the area of the most heat transfer to the block coolant body.
When the alloy solidifies around the edges it contracts and grips to the lens (tape) first around the outside of the block diameter. However,
in the center of the block around the lens MRP, the alloy is still hot in liquid form. When it starts cooling and solidifying, it begins to contract
and pull the center of the lens with it inside the block. Most of the time on minus lenses, the MRP is right in the center of the block at it
happens to be the thinnest area of the lens. Consequently, we resurface the lens and (let’s assume) produce perfect curves on the back of the lens.
Because organic lenses are thermo set materials, when the lens is de-blocked it returns molecularly to its pre-blocking state and the center of
the lens “pops back.” As a result, the curves at the MRP will became flatter, causing the lens power to be weaker.
Please note, the lens power will not be constant all through the surface of the lens and will get stronger away from the center. We’ve found
that putting three or four layers of surface-saver tape will absorb most of the alloy suction that causes the pulling of the lens center inside
the block. That eliminates the “pop-up” effect and flattening of the inside curve at the MRP after de-blocking. It appears not to have
any negative effect on the surfacing process, including single-point HD surfacing. We do it often and it has saved us a lot of service delays and
costly blank re-dos.—Submitted by Quest Optical Specialty Lab, Tampa Bay, Fla.
To find out other Tricks of the Trade from your peers, log onto
www.labtalkonline.com where you will find
IT TAKES A VILLAGE—TRICKS OF THE TRADE, listed under the Features section.
A Rarely Asked But Powerful Negotiating Question
Think of the questions you ask clients in negotiations. Do they include “How do you see yourselves in your industry?”
Your client's answer to this question can be very informative and helpful to you at the point when there is disagreement on price or on some
other term of the deal. If you think about it, the only possible answers to the question will be variations of A. Leader, B. Wannabe leader, or C.
Some other (often metaphorical) characterization (bell weather, pioneer, pit bull, tortoise, road runner, anchor, etc.) In all cases, these answers
reflect either pride or ambition, or both, and, occasionally, fear (on life-support). Tap into your knowledge of those deep values and feelings as
you defend the value of what you are offering.
“Mr. Client, you are the leaders of the industry. Why would you not want to work with the leader in our industry?” Or, “Why
accept less than the finest quality because of lower price (or other factor on the table for discussion)?” Or, "That is exactly why you are
the ones to try this new program, because you are the leader.”
“Ms. Client, you are among the top three widget companies in your field. Here is a chance to be the lead player in your field. Why miss
“Ms. Client, you said you see your firm like a 'pitbull.' What better opportunity to demonstrate that by taking on the bigger firms in
this event?” This appeal to their personal vision is not always going to seal the deal, but it will certainly add emotional punch to your
position and may be just the argument you need to tip the final agreement in your favor.
Time is limited: Make What You Say Pay.
Chemalux 100OD Polish-Coat Rx Lens Making System
Description: Compact, simple system for making PAL, multifocal, single vision lenses of most lens materials (plastic, Trivex, mid-index, PC,
high-index) at the price range of a premium edger.
Features: : The Polish-to-Coat Rx Lens Making System integrates Fastgrind lens polishing machine with Chemalux 100 SR-AR coating
machine, allowing eyecare practices and optical retailers to make most Rx lenses in-house. Integration of Chemalux 100 Coater greatly extends the Rx
lens materials Fastgrind can polishes to not only plastics, but also PC and high-index materials which require scratch resistant coating after
polishing. The integrated system will only need to deposit the AR coating on the backside of the lens which already has the front side AR coated.
Combination of Fastgrind with Chemalux 100 Coater eliminates manual surface preparation of lens before coating. This reduces in-house Rx lens
fabrication work to minimum while producing the complete Rx lenses with hard coating and AR coating. The system makes a pair of lenses in about one
hour, and produces up to 15 pairs of Rx lenses in eight hours.
Size: Takes up to 15 square feet of space.
Manufacturer: DAC Vision
Description: Soft polishing tool
Features: Provides superior formability, resulting in excellent performance throughout the complete curve range. Strong plastic
base reduces tool failures, resulting in higher throughput. High-performance polishing material produces excellent surface quality.
Availability: Packaged in 10-tool or 50-tool packs; variety of curves offered
Definity Dual Add 2.0 in Thin&Lite 1.74
Description: : Digitally surfaced high-index PAL
Features: Essilor’s patented Dual Add technology design allows minimum astigmatism within the lens surface as compared to other traditional
and single surface digitally surfaced lenses. Wearers get a wider field of vision in all the three viewing zones and in addition, get the benefit of
the Ground View Advantage—a fourth zone below the reading area.
Thin&Lite 1.74 material is ultra thin, providing superior optical performance for patients with complex prescriptions. The lenses are
systematically coated with a choice of Crizal Avancé with Scotchgard Protector or Crizal Alizé.
Availability: Rx range is -14.00D to +9.00D; base curves 1.70, 1.75, 2.75, 3.75, 5.25, 6.50, 8.00; add powers +1.00 to +3.00
and +3.50. Definity is also available in standard plastic, polycarbonate Airwear, Trivex material, Thin&Lite1.60 and Thin&Lite 1.67.
Varilux Physio Enhanced
Manufacturer: Essilor of America
Description: Essilor’s new top-of-the-line progressive lens
Features: Designed with Essilor’s proprietary W.A.V.E. Technology 2, the next generation of Varilux Physio lens design. According to Essilor,
W.A.V.E Technology 2 maximizes visual acuity even in low light conditions by taking into account variations in pupil size due to age, patient
prescription, light conditions and viewing distance. The technology also manages distortions more efficiently than Varilux Physio, so patients see
improved sharpness in any light, less eye strain and reduced swim. Lens performance guaranteed through systematic production utilizing dual side
digital surfacing process. Although AR is not mandatory, Essilor strongly recommends it. Good for fitting heights of 14 to 25mm and up.
Availability: 1.50 Index Plastic: 1.50 +6.00 D to
-10.00D; 1.50 Transitions VI Gray/Brown: 1.50 +6.00 D to -10.00D; 1.50 Xperio Gray/Brown
1.50 +6.00 D to -10.00D; Airwear 1.59 +6.00D to
-10.00D; Airwear Transitions VI Gray/Brown 1.59 +6.00D to -10.00D; Airwear Transitions XTRActive
Gray 1.59 +6.00D to -10.00D; Airwear Xperio Gray/Brown 1.59 +6.00D to -10.00D; Thin&Lite 1.60 1.60 +8.00D to -12.00D; Thin&Lite 1.60 Transitions
VI Gray/Brown 1.60 +8.00D to
-12.00D; Thin&Lite 1.67 1.67 +9.00D to -12.00D; Thin&Lite 1.67 Transitions VI Gray/Brown 1.67 +9.00D to -12.00D;
Thin&Lite 1.74: 1.74 +13.00D to -18.00D.
CLE 070 Lensmeter
Manufacturer: National Optronics
Description: Fully automatic lensmeter
Features: Measures lens power and verifies lenses and frames. Sliding frame rest combined with a unique bridge rest simplifies electronic
measurements of PD, power and axis. Intelligent software automatically identifies and measures progressive lenses. Integrated UV meter allows for
convenient UV transmission verification. Unit has an integrated printer and RS232 interface.
Sprint Coating System
Manufacturer: Quest Optical
Description: Table top spin coater used to apply films to the convex surface of a lens.
Features: Designed for labs that need to apply SurfaceProtect and/or EdgeRight films to the lens surface. SurfaceProtect replaces many of the
problems associated with the use of blue surface saver tape; EdgeRight allows the labs to eliminate slippage during the edging process, thus reducing
breakage. Stainless steel cabinet is standard.
Size: 19.5 inches wide by 16 inches deep by 17 inches high
Weight: 51 lbs.
Power: 110 V 15 A
Air Consumption: 0.6 SCFM
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