Timely Bill Payment: The Best of Investments
You can shop all over, but you'll have to shop a long time to find a CD or money market rate of more than 1 percent these days. It seems like you would have to invest in vehicles with a bit more risk to get a higher return. That is unless you are not paying your bills on time. Most lab owners have experienced times when money was tight and it would be very tempting to just put off paying a few payables for a month, but paying them on time is money in your bank.
Let's say for example your average bill with a vendor is $100,000 per month, and the vendor like many others provides a 2 percent prompt payment discount if you pay by the 10th of the month. You save $2,000 for paying on time. That's $24,000 in savings per year, or approximately a 24 percent interest rate, and quite a bit better than the 1 percent you get at the bank. If that's not enough, take the same $100,000 bill and not pay it on time. Most vendors place a finance charge of 1.5 percent on billings which are past due. So if the lab is continuously late making payment on the bill in our example, it will pay approximately $18,000 in finance charges per year, or 18 percent.
Going from past due to prompt payment is arguably one of the best investments a lab can make. Where else can you find an investment which returns 42 percent per year, and carry's absolutely zero risk? Vendors are usually pretty flexible in extending credit because you are a good customer, but they are not doing it for free. If you are past due, the vendor is the one making 42 percent on their money... at your expense.—Jason A. Meyer, managing director, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of companies in the optical sector. You can send comments or questions about this article or any other Dollars & Sense articles to Jason A. Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rochester Optical Equips Local High School Lab
Rochester Optical, a frame and lens manufacturer in Rochester, N.Y., has partnered with a local high school to build a fully-functional optical laboratory on campus. The idea for the lab came from Logan Newman, a science teacher at East High School who received optical training in the Navy and had experience at NOSTRA (Naval Ophthalmic Support and Training Activity). Newman arranged for professional opticians to train and supervise students who make prescription eyewear for fellow classmates in need. He also developed a comprehensive optical curriculum to train the students in ophthalmic fabrication, using hands-on experience with optical equipment. Students who complete the curriculum will have a broad optical background and a skill set that is in high demand among Rochester's growing optical companies. Newman has also entered an agreement with a community college in the Buffalo area so that students who complete the course will receive college credit towards an Ophthalmic Dispensing Associates' Degree.
Jeremy Ho, president of Rochester Optical, is looking forward to continuing this partnership with East High. "I am excited to be a part of this," Ho said. "Not only will this be a wonderful opportunity for the kids, but for the future of the optical industry as well. Recruiting experienced optical professionals is a high priority for our company and these students stand to benefit from this demand."
Pictured with the East High students are, from left: Jeremy Ho and Logan Newman. On the far right is Paul Conrow, another teacher at East High who is developing a program for precision optics.
California Lab Leads Mission to Mexico
Express Lens Lab, an independent wholesaler in Fountain Valley, Calif., recently participated in a program to prpvide eyewear to needy people in Mexico. In January, lab employees, accompanied by 12 optometrists and six dispensing opticians, travelled to Beautiful Sister Orphanage in the Trinitarian of Mary convent in Tecate, Mexico. They performed 200 eye exams, displayed frame samples and measured patients. The team returned in February to dispense 125 pairs of free glasses to the nuns and orphans.
Above, left, Martha Mijares, optical director of the Southern California college of Optometry, fits a nun with glasses. Above, right, John Rodriguez, vice president of Express Lens Lab, writes up a patient's order.
"Even though we're a smaller independent lab in the world of all these corporate giants, we're a successful company, and feel it's our duty to give to give back to those who are less fortunate and don't have the means to obtain eyewear," said Brian Goldstone, president and owner of Express Lens Lab. Goldstone told Lab Advisor that Express Lens Lab has participated in various eyecare missions, including a recent program called Under the Same Sun that provided 500 pairs of glasses for albinos in Africa.
Chadwick Optical's Karen Keeney
By Judith Lee
Differentiating your lab is a marketing must in today's business climate, and Chadwick Optical has taken this concept to a new level. The White River Jct., Vt. lab serves Low Vision ECPs almost exclusively, both in the US and worldwide. Chadwick Optical has carved a respectable niche by simply making prescriptions that other labs cannot: high adds, prisms, and photochromatic medical filters are some of their specialties.
"We've developed our technology through customer requests and in-house R&D over time. If we can think of a way to do an Rx and satisfy a need, we tackle it. Our experience has snowballed into our ability to do more and more challenging prescriptions," said Karen Keeney, Chadwick president.
One challenge that Chadwick faces is informing ECPs and other labs that their unique services are available.
"Today's large labs and many ECPs believe if their lab cannot provide a requested service that it can't be done," said Keeney. "We tell ECPs to call Chadwick when their primary lab(s) say it isn't possible. Other labs serve the majority of needs and do it well. We focus on the remainder."
Charles Saccarelli, VP of marketing, noted that more labs than ever are referring special requests to Chadwick.
"Chadwick has no interest in hijacking customers from other labs," Saccarelli noted. "We would actually prefer that ECPs send us only the prescriptions that their primary lab(s) cannot make, because we like the challenge. We sometimes come up with solutions that the customer's primary lab may be able to process. When that happens, we refer them back to the primary lab."
Chadwick's healthy growth rate has been through word of mouth in the close-knit Low Vision community, their web sites, trade show presence, phone consults with ECP's concerning challenging patients, and referrals from other labs.
Chadwick may be the only optical lab to have ever been awarded grants from the National Institute of Health's National Eye Institute. The grants were to develop a lens to help stroke and brain trauma victims increase visual fields using high power prisms embedded in a prescription lens. Chadwick has a license agreement with Schepens Eye Research Institute (affiliate of Harvard Medical School) for this lens under the trade name PeliLens.
Chadwick's two web sites were developed in-house: one for Chadwick's services and another that offers help for people with hemianopia (visual field loss due to brain trauma). Future IT plans include Skype face-to-face interactive seminars and client-specific e-mail notifications of new developments.
Other plans include more of what has built Chadwick's business over time; namely, helping people.
"We're currently working on designing a forum for people with hemianopia to share their experiences," noted Keeney. "Although an estimated one out of 1000 people have the condition, it's a very lonely experience for the individual and not well understood by their families and friends."
On The Fence...About Single Block Systems
By Christie Walker
Wouldn't it be great if you could block a lens once and be done with it? That is the idea behind On the Block Manufacturing processes. Currently there is only one company that has turned this concept into reality, and that's Satisloh.
"Until recently, most equipment companies were focused in just one or two production areas of the lab: finishing companies, surfacing companies, and coating companies. As a result, there was no cohesive development of a technology that spanned all three major processing disciplines, which is necessary for the concept of a single block for the entire process to be commercially viable. With the synergy produced from integrating Satisloh and National Optronics, we have one company with core competencies in surfacing, finishing, and coating, able to coordinate their R&D efforts toward the goal of a universal platform," said Ian Gregg, director surfacing products, Satisloh North America.
So how does it work? The idea is simple, the lens is blocked once and then moves through all processing steps until it is finally de-blocked. With the Satisloh system, a machineable plastic block, Nucleo (pictured above), is used in every machine including AR coating and edging. This new block is an open platform, designed to work in any brand of surfacing machine not just Satisloh machines. According to Satisloh, the benefits are numerous. The process: saves up to 12 process and 40 manual handling steps; eliminates transfer time among traditional Rx, coating and finishing departments; protects front surface throughout all processing steps; eliminates scratches because there is no handling of the lens; eliminates finish blocking; and drives down labor costs with total automation.
To find out what labs are saying about the Single Block System, go to labtalkonline.com and go to the FEATURES section where you will find this complete article.