Schneider's Management Team Visits Rochester Optical
Rochester Optical welcomed the management team from Schneider Optical Machines USA to its Rochester, N.Y. optical laboratory on October 16. Schneider USA's president Kurt Atchison (pictured at right) and director of sales Kevin Cross (left) were among the visiting delegation. Rochester Optical CEO Patrick Ho (center) and director of lab operations John Greco joined them on a tour of the facility.
"Schneider equipment is not only the best equipment for today's technology; it also has the capability to handle tomorrow's technology," says John Greco, Rochester Optical's director of lab operations. "The Schneider line gives us significant momentum for future growth."
Rochester Optical redesigned its optical lab in 2011. The high-efficiency design and equipment upgrades culminated with the installation of the Schneider line of equipment. The lab also added a conveying system to tie in the automated generators and a centralized chilling and filtration system."
Luzerne Optical, Milroy Optical, And Vision Craft Selected As 2012 Visionweb Lab of the Year Honorees
VisionWeb, the premiere provider of technology solutions to the eyecare industry, announced today their 2012 VisionWeb Lab of the Year Honorees. Selected honorees for 2012 are Luzerne Optical, Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Milroy Optical, Tampa, Fla.; Vision Craft, Walled Lake, Mich.
The VisionWeb Lab of the Year program was created seven years ago as a way to reward spectacle lens laboratories that have shown exemplary results growing and maintaining customer loyalty using VisionWeb. The Lab of the Year Honorees are featured in a special section on the VisionWeb site, are announced to VisionWeb members via e-newsletter, and also receive an award commemorating their recognition. Details on VisionWeb's Lab of the Year program are available here.
US Optical Installs Hoya iD Lifestyle and iQ Free-Form Technology
US Optical Laboratories and Hoya Lens of America have announced that US Optical has installed Hoya iD Lifestyle and iQ Free-Form production in its East Syracuse, N.Y. facility.
US Optical has been digitally processing lenses in-house since 2008. Now with Hoya's iD Lifestyle and iQ Free-Form technology, they can offer customers more options for their patients. Hoya's iD Lifestyle and iQ series of lenses incorporate advanced mathematical algorithms during the fabrication process of the lenses, which offers enhanced visual acuity, reduced distortion, and wider fields of vision, according to Hoya.
Pictured at the US Optical lab are, left to right: Owners Ralph, Robert, Ronald Cotran, Hoya Free-form Specialist Mark Fiala, Hoya director of distributor sales Michael Thornton and CC Systems general manager Ken Jackson.
Get To Work!
The election is over. Many are happy that their candidate won, and others are disappointed about the outcome. Now that we have certainty about who our elected leaders will be, it would be only right for them to get back to the people's business. But, it doesn't seem that they have been up to doing the people's business for the last two years. It seems that the problems faced could have been dealt with before they became as big as what we have now.
Of looming importance is the "fiscal cliff," which is a combination of tax increases and across the board spending cuts set to take place at year end unless Congress and the administration work together to address it. This problem was a politically engineered problem in the first place to set the outcome such that our elected leaders were able to harvest votes or have leverage for yet to be legislation. This is a problem which should have been tackled two years ago, but neither party had the will, sense of responsibility or courage to put country over their own self interests.
We are in definite need of tax reform. Our tax code is complex and fraught with political pandering on the left and right, rich and poor. Taxes are meant to support the operation of our state, not to pick favorites. They should pay for our needs and not be used as a tool to garner votes or support, or worse to reward special interests.
Our entitlement system is unsustainable unless real reform is implemented. Our political leaders have known about this problem for as long as I can remember yet they have done nothing. Our leaders should do the work to address these problems now that the votes are counted. Failing to do so would be abdicating their responsibility to the people who sent them to Washington to get the job done. It's time for them to prove it!—Jason A. Meyer, managing director, 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 A. Meyer at email@example.com.
Richard Wilhelm of Luxe Laboratories
By Judith Lee
In a business world dominated by "big" and "high volume," Luxe Laboratories is choosing to go small to succeed.
After nearly a dozen years of competing with optical labs that grew larger and larger, owner Richard Wilhelm renamed his lab, formerly known as West Coast Lens, and refocused the Anaheim, Calif. business as an uber high-quality, high-touch operation.
Since March 2012, Wilhelm's strategy has been to build the business one very fussy client at a time.
"We handle luxury eyewear only: the $2,000 horn frame. People trust us with those. The frames are the best in the business, and our lenses, fabrication and service are the best in the business," Wilhelm noted.
This rarified niche first of all requires a whole new way of looking at oneself.
"We are not a vendor, we are a strategic supplier," Wilhelm said.
The lab takes such an in-depth approach to its clients that it asks to see the retailer's business plan.
"We need to see what we can provide to them to help them succeed. What I stress to my team is that clients have product knowledge, what they need to know is how to succeed," he said.
Luxe Laboratories' marketing program is really customer education, the old-fashioned, door-to-door kind. Wilhelm and his team often visit upscale retailers to share information and ideas.
For clients that are further afield, Luxe Laboratories relies on Skype and Eyechat to connect with the individual and answer their questions. Wilhelm also is a member of the online community Luxury Eyewear Forum, where he's built a reputation for being the one with the answers.
"Luxury is a word-of-mouth business. Our clients—and their clients—don't want what other people have. They will not respond to an ad or a quick promotion. They want products that are recommended by people they trust and respect," he said.
Which doesn't mean price doesn't matter. Wilhelm said Luxe Laboratories' in-house free form lenses (LuxeHD) and AR coating (Lucid) compare to the best in the business, but are offered at more competitive prices.
"We offer better margins for our clients. That means we compete on both quality and price," Wilhelm said.
What's ahead for 2013? More of the same; building the business one account at a time.
"I tell my staff over and over: Consult, Connect, Confirm," Wilhelm said. "Do we – meaning the client and us – both understand what the client needs?"
The Runaway Freight Train…Private Label Branding
By Christie Walker
This year, the former Optical Laboratories Association, now the Lab Division of The Vision Council, put on a Q&A session with optical labs and vendors around the topic of private label branding during Vision Expo West. On the panel were: John Sutherlin, Sutherlin Optical with private label AR; Norm Kester, Quantum, designer of AR coatings; Lloyd Yazbeck, Central Optical with 65 percent private label digital progressive brands; Jeff Szymanski, Toledo Optical, with private label AR, digital progressive lenses, and education; Ron Kroll, Innovations Digital, producer of digital progressive lens designs; and Daniel Crespo, IOT America, creator of digital progressive software designs. Private label branding is a way to distinguish your lab from the lab next door, but even more important, it can also be a way for your customers to distinguish themselves from their competition.
Why Private Label Brand
There are a number of reasons labs may want to get into private label branding. "There were two reasons we decided to go the private label route. Number one was to control our own destiny and number two was profitability," said Szymanski.
Yazbeck agreed. "Profitability was the greatest motivational factor. We buy a two dollar blank, spend six dollars to process it, pay the click fee and sell it for $50. It's a no-brainer."
"We saw a need for our customers to have a brand that their competition didn't have, so that's why we went into the private label branding," said Sutherlin.
So how do you get started and how do you price your private label product? Many labs didn't start with the private brand but started with the nationally branded product first and then added their own brand after learning the ropes.
"We started with a branded product in house before going private label," said Sutherlin.
"Digital lenses are the most misunderstood product by the ECP. So we used the power of the branded progressive to help educate our customer before we moved onto a private label," said Szymanski.
Find out more about private label branding by reading the entire article on the newly redesigned LabTalk website.