Gerber Coburn
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers November 2007

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from Gerber Coburn.

New Products
 
Tech Talk

Lens Bar Code
LENS INVENTORY AND JOB EDITING
Labs inventory lens blanks, which are available in finished or semi-finished lenses. Job editing entails inputting the prescription parameters into the lab’s computer system; however, using the wrong lens blanks or having inaccurate information can result in lenses that are off-power.

The first step in lens processing, and seemingly the easiest, inventorying lenses and inputting prescription information can actually cause a high amount of spoilage. To a significant degree, software systems manage inventory minimizing wrong lenses being pulled. Many labs utilize a bar code system that scans both the code on the package of lenses and the job ticket, which determines the specific lenses, and the lenses can’t be blocked unless this data corresponds. Labs with less sophisticated systems rely on double checking.

Another good rule is to place similar lenses away from each other in the stock room, such as flat-top bifocals and flat-top trifocals, which will avoid chances for confusion. Good inventory management means knowing what is in stock, and a close relationship with vendors is essential.  Job editing can be trickier, but most labs agree that having a double check on data entry minimizes lab-related input error. Of course, many errors are misinformation recorded by the doctor or the dispenser. The best rule is not to guess at the information, but to call back the account. To reduce the time lag this may cause, account training is necessary. Many labs and lens manufacturers feature training on how to write a lens order as part of their in-office seminars. Human error is the only cause for spoilage due to problems related to picking inventory or input, making it the simplest to track, but one of the most difficult to reduce.

 
Marketing Matters

Working LabPR Strategies for Optical Labs, Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles that explores how optical labs can improve their public relations techniques.

Public Relations (PR) provides the opportunity for a third-party “endorsement” of your product or business in a public medium. An endorsement doesn’t necessarily mean a “plug”—but coverage in the press, whether it’s trade or news media, gives your business legitimacy in the eyes of the “public” (i.e. your customers).

Remember, what is said about your company in the media has an enormous impact.

There are several ways to generate PR.

  1. Send out a press release about the latest news of your business.
  2. Launch a Web site listing your products and services and offering unique information/opportunities for your customers.
  3. Take out a booth at a trade show such as this one, or some of the regional shows out there.
  4. Sponsor events such as open houses, continuing education courses, or lab tours.

Anytime you’re making yourself available to the “public”—in this case the dispenser community or the trade press—be prepared to discuss your company in detail and with particular focus on anything new. For example, if you have a booth at a trade show, and I come up and introduce myself, you should have something prepared to give the press about things going on at your business.

What Qualifies as News?
The press release is the simplest way of interacting with the press. If your lab has something it wants to publicize, the best way to let those of us in the media know about it is the press release.

What qualifies as news? In other words, what is press release-worthy? Well, in the case of wholesale laboratories, the following is a list of some of the news and events Vision Monday receives press releases on:

  1. Anniversaries/Milestones/Awards (perhaps it is your lab’s 25th or 50th anniversary in business, or you have an employee celebrating a 50th anniversary with the company, perhaps you’ve been recognized within the industry—(i.e. Transitions Lab of the Year)—or within your local community (a Chamber of Commerce award)
  2. Personnel Hires: (new lab manager, ownership, sales manager)
  3. Equipment/Facility overhauls: (you’ve installed new equipment, opened a new main facility of satellite location; installed an AR lab)
  4. Renovations/Relocations: (you’ve moved; you’ve overhauled the entire lab; you have a new Web site or 800 number)
  5. Expansions: satellite locations/mergers & acquisitions
  6. New Products/Services (in-house AR) Marketing programs
  7. Events: seminars, open houses, tours, grand openings, charitable endeavors
  8. New Partnerships/Distributorships (Partner, etc.)
  9. New Business Ventures, (i.e. opening a coating lab; start a buying group)
  10. Obituary

Next Month: The press release process.

 

 

The Tax Effect of Timed Equipment Purchases

Independently owned optical laboratories that are considering equipment purchases in 2008 may decide to make part of those purchases before the end of the year 2007 and then the balance during the year 2008. The new Small Business and Work Opportunity Act (SBWOTA), among other things, eased Section 179 of the tax code. Under the new provisions small companies can deduct up to $125,000 of equipment purchases in 2007 and around $130,000 in 2008; with an inflation associated with the year 2007 base amount through the year 2010. The catch is that the deduction is limited to small companies, and taxpayers that purchase over $500,000 worth of equipment in the year 2007 would start to lose the tax benefit. Accordingly, for every dollar over the spending limit in each year, the deduction would be reduced by the overage. This would, in effect, simply reduce the current deduction and increase the depreciable basis in the equipment purchased.

Therefore, a well planned purchase of equipment would include the purchase of up to $1,050,000 split between 2007 and 2008, wherein the first $255,000 of the purchase would be deductible by the company in the respective years that they were purchased in. The same would apply for a single project such as reengineering and associated equipment. Certain expenditures in addition to the optical equipment can also qualify, excluding however, building expenditures and associated fixtures. This same tax planning would apply to independent labs through the year 2010.

When making purchases in conjunction with associated Section 179 deductions, lab owners need to also be aware that they must pass a taxable income limitation wherein the expensing deduction can not exceed the taxable income from the purchaser’s active trade or business. This limitation particularly comes into play where the company is a C corporation and the deduction resulting from the Section 179 purchases exceed the taxable income of the corporation. Therefore, before lab executives take their often customary year end bonus, they should consider forgoing the bonus so as to not create a situation wherein the corporation’s Section 179 deduction is lost. By planning the purchases well, the corporation can have the deduction without the associated payroll costs to shareholder employees; and have the cash remain in the company that would have otherwise been distributed.

The result of a Section 179 tax deduction is in effect to use pretax dollars to make certain of your companies capital expenditures. That said, lab owners should still strongly consider the economic factors (as addressed in earlier articles) and make the purchases only after considering the effect on the overall debt of their company.

Tom PuckettThomas F. Puckett is managing director & CEO, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories.

Gerber Coburn
 

Gerber Coburn

The Apple of Their Eye

Rx Files"Our lab manager has done lots of unusual jobs, such as making rifle scopes or archery scopes where you would take a progressive and turn it upside down. However, the one I liked the most was the drilled rimless mount that was shaped like an apple. The left eye had a bite out of the temporal bottom of the lens. This entailed making a pattern by hand, edging it large, and doing a great deal of hand work to get it to size. Then taking a dremel to cut out the bite portion and then drilling the holes with a dremel also by hand. Very interesting job to say the least. They wanted it tinted ‘sour apple green' of course."—Parke Wilkinson, MJ Optical, Omaha, Neb.

If you'd like to share a story about any unusually shaped lenses or other difficult or challenging Rx jobs your lab has done, please contact us at labadvisor@jobson.com.

Gerber Coburn
 

LuAnn Mosier of Pech Optical

LuAnn Mosier

LuAnn Mosier has been a part of the Pech Optical team from the very first day they opened the doors.  Having worked in every part of the lab from the mailroom and office to die pots and finishing, LuAnn is considered a cornerstone to the laboratory.  When Pech Optical was founded in 1989 they started with 44 employees.  Since then, Pech has grown to over 260 employees with approximately 2,100 Rx orders leaving the assembly line each day.  “Although we have grown to be a large laboratory, we still operate like a small one,” shared LuAnn, Vice President of Sales, Education and Marketing.  “We work as a big team and have an open door policy.  We always look forward to speaking with our customers.” 

As stated in her job title, LuAnn is responsible for sales, education and marketing.  “It’s pretty crazy,” she said.  “Because I wear so many hats, there is no typical day.  As a whole, the most important part of my job is communicating with everyone.”  On the sales side, LuAnn is responsible for monitoring sales reports and communicating with 15 of her sales people daily.  She also assists with incoming customer service questions and issues that the team leader cannot handle.  LuAnn commented, “I love getting to know the different accounts and the challenge involved in returning numerous calls to provide solutions.” 

When it comes to the “education” portion of her title, LuAnn is orchestrating some important projects.  “As the laboratory continues to grow, we’ve had to develop some innovative education solutions to decrease travel time and cost while providing the same level of resources for our accounts to stay educated on the latest industry changes,” she described.  LuAnn is currently working on webinars, online education seminars that enable accounts to login and watch while they listen to a live conference call conversation.  She is excited for the new upcoming topics they will be featuring in upcoming months.

Finally, LuAnn is also responsible for all internal and external marketing.  She creates a newsletter that goes out to our accounts informing them of new happenings and changes in the laboratory.  In addition, she also creates a newsletter for the employees of Pech Optical.  “The company newsletter is all fun,” Luann commented.  Employees submit births, marriages, anniversaries, recipes and positive employee performance notes to the marketing department to be included.  “We’re like a big family and we enjoy supporting each other outside of work, too.”

When asked about the highlight of her career at Pech, LuAnn had a difficult time narrowing it down.  “As I watch some of the younger people grow into their roles, it’s the highlight of my day to see them succeed as a result of my training.”  LuAnn prides herself in being easy to talk to and is always open to feedback.  She looks forward to the continued opportunity to help Pech Optical grow.

Gerber Coburn
 

LenStock Customers ‘Click to Win’—Starting June 1, 2007, Global Optics gave eye care professionals the opportunity to win a 30GB Video iPod.  The “Click to Win” promotion for LenStock.com, an online website that makes stock lens ordering and inventory easy, was designed to promote the use of LenStock to existing users, while encouraging prospective users to give it a try.

Lenstock Promo
Each month, the LenStock computer system randomly selects two participating eye care practices to win the Click-to-Win promotion. Dunes Optical of Michigan City, Ind., an Expert Optics account, was among the winners. Pictured below, from left to right are Judy Gray, Expert Optics; Wendy Barkow and Cathy Dimitroff, Dunes Optical; Sid Moore, Expert Optics

By placing more frequent orders on LenStock.com, Avery Eye Care Center increased their odds of winning the 30GB Video iPod. Not only did they win the September iPod give-away, but they also were winners in August as well. Dar Kirby accepted the prize for Avery Eye Care Center, which is located in St. Johns, Mich.

LenStock is a business-to-business website that enables eye care professionals to quickly and easily order all major brands of stock lenses to be drop shipped by the Global Optics warehouse. LenStock account access is only available from a Global Optics member laboratory. Mike Earl, sales manager for Harbor Optical, Avery’s sponsor laboratory presented the prize at Harbor University 2007.

LenStock.com is available exclusively from Global member laboratories.  Global Labs include Advance Optical, Cherry Optical, CVO, Dietz Laboratories, E.magine Optical, Encore Optics, Expert Optics, Harbor Optical, Hirsch Optical Corporation, ICareLabs, Katz & Klein, Lenco, LensTech, Professional Ophthalmic Labs, QC Optical, Rite Style Optical, Rooney Optical, Soderberg Optical, Toledo Optical and Walman Optical.
For more information about the Click 2 Win iPod Promotion, visit www.lenstock.com.

 
ShamirLaboftheYear

Shamir Names Rite-Style Lab of the Year—Shamir Insight drew over 300 guests to its annual customer appreciation party held last month at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas during International Vision Expo West. The lens company, which celebrated its tenth anniversary, used the occasion to present its Lab of the Year award to Rite-Style Optical of Omaha, Neb. Rite-Style founder and president George Lee, (second from left), accepted the award from, left to right, Matt Lytle, Lance Bergeron and Raanan Naftalovich of Shamir Insight. In addition, Shamir named Prodigy Optical of Richmond, Minn. as Emerging Lab of the Year. Cheryl Boehm of Walman Optical, Minneapolis, Minn. was named Lab Sales Consultant of the Year, and Market Optical of Washington was named ECP of the Year.

E.magine Optical Holds Marketing Seminars—On September 19 and 20, more than 30 attendees from the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas gathered to hear Samantha Toth, marketing consultant for Innereactive Media, present, “Secrets to Effective Optical Marketing.” The first event was held at the Embassy Suites in Tulsa and the second at the Chesapeake Boathouse in Oklahoma City, and described the importance of effective optical marketing for private practice. Attendees earned ABO and COPE credits while being taught easy-to-implement marketing strategies to provide their practices with a competitive edge.

These events were created by e.magine optical to provide practices with a chance to learn about the importance of marketing their practice and also an opportunity to network with other industry professionals.  e.magine optical also launched their new Team Rewards program. Team Rewards enables e.magine optical customers to work with Innereactive Media at a fraction of the normal cost. With Team Rewards, e.magine optical will co-op two thirds of the marketing strategy plan development cost.

In addition to e.magine optical, this practice growth opportunity was made possible through generous sponsorship from ADO Buying Group, Shamir Insight, and Transitions Optical. 

OphthonixLab

Ophthonix More Than Doubles The Size Of Its Production Facility—Ophthonix, the San Diego County-based vision correction company, recently relocated its headquarters from San Diego to nearby Vista, Calif. to accommodate growth in business and operations. The company reports that its new 45,000 square foot facility is more than double the previous space at Pacific Center Court, and will house both corporate offices and a much larger manufacturing operation.

“The demand for our iZon High Resolution Lenses has increased to the point that we have outgrown our current location,” said Stephen Osbaldeston, chief executive officer of Ophthonix. “The new facility will provide optimum space for an advanced, fully automated optical lab and will enable us to meet increasing customer demand for many years to come.”
Ophthonix, founded in 2000, manufactures and markets the Z-View Aberrometer and iZon High Resolution spectacle lenses.

Janice Heffner
Janice Heffner

Services Held for Janice Heffner of FEA Industries—Janice Heffner of FEA Industries died on October 26 in Media, Pa., following a brief illness. Heffner, who was 52, served as chief financial officer of FEA Industries, a Morton, Pa.-based wholesale lab, for the past 14 years. Prior to joining FEA, she was a senior accountant for the Philadelphia Electric company.
An integral part of FEA's management team, Heffner was responsible for capital budgeting and financial planning. In the last five years, FEA has grown from 200 jobs per day to over one thousand.

“Her fiscal management allowed FEA to grow at a rapid pace without the cash flow constraints encountered by most rapidly growing companies,” said William Heffner, her husband and president of the lab.

In addition to her husband, Heffner is survived by her sons William and Michael and a daughter, Stefanie.

Alan Montgomery, OD, ‘graduates’ from Harbor University
Alan Montgomery, OD, ‘graduates’ from Harbor University

Michigan ECPs ‘Graduate’ from Harbor University—Harbor Optical hosted its seventh annual Harbor University in on October 19, 2007 at the Hagerty Center in Traverse City, Mich. Over 300 Optometrists, Opticians and other industry professionals earned continuing education credits free of charge. Harbor University provided 13 hours of ABO and eight hours of COPE approved courses.

Attendees were welcomed to Traverse City the evening before at the second annual Harbor’ita Madness, a Mexican fiesta-themed welcome reception held at Harbor Optical.  This event featured southwestern fare, margaritas and provided opportunities for the attending professionals and sponsoring vendor representatives to network.

Rory Aplanalp helped kick-off Harbor University on Friday morning with a motivational keynote presentation. Through a combination of humor and real-life examples, Aplanalp delivered a message of discovering internal motivation and the attitude to “act-now” on the things that will make a difference.

In addition to the optometrist and optician tracks offered every year at Harbor University, this year Harbor Optical introduced Transitions Technical Institute (TTI). Sponsored by Transitions Optical, this complete track of courses was designed to equip opticians and optometrists with effective presentation techniques to increase Transitions lens sales. 

Upon completion of classes, festivities continued at the Transitions Post Party.  Attendees enjoyed live music, hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine while they enjoyed a commencement presentation by Andrew Karp, Group Editor of Lenses and Technology for Vision Monday, Lab Advisor and 20/20 magazine. Following Karp’s presentation, TTI graduates participated in the TTI commencement ceremony. Completion of two or more courses enabled attendees to earn their “Harbor University Degree” making them a Transitions Certified eye care professional.

Harbor University was sponsored by the following vendors: Aspex Eyewear, Avada Eyewear, Charmant, Clear Vision, Essilor, GOAL Eyecare Solutions, Hoya Vision Care, Innereactive Media, Kasperek USA Optical, Kenmark, Megabyte Billing Services, Money Management Solutions, REM Eyewear, Rollins Consulting, Sable Water Optics, Sàfilo, Shamir Insight, Seiko-Pentax, Signet Armorlite, Transitions Optical, Viva International and Younger Optics.

DAC International

Blended Lenticular Lens Software
Manufacturer/Distributor: DAC International
Description: Enables labs to generate wrap lens designs on 8 or 10 base single-vision blanks.
Target Customer: surfacing labs

Features/Functions: This optional feature of the DAC RxD generator, when used in conjunction with the NSLP Soft Lap Polisher, allows wrap lens designs to be processed like any job. Both plus and minus power lenses can also be processed and high power lenses can be thinned as much as desired. All designs are generated on the back side of the lens blank for the highest quality optics and best cosmetic appearance.   
(888) 373-3027
www.dac-intl.com

 
FlexLink Systems

Job I/O
Manufacturer/Distributor: FlexLink Systems
Description: open platform automation cell
Target Customer: high production finishing labs

Features/Functions: Automatically loads and unloads National Optronics 7E bench top edgers. Enables optical labs to edge 120-140 lenses (60-80 jobs) per hour with six existing edgers in an automated fashion. Job I/O will also sort work to correct edger, so cell can be set up for different types of jobs such as drill, small B or other special criteria. Trays will be automatically conveyed in and out of the cell and conveyor configurations can be modified for lab layout. Optional automatic de-block system can be added within cell. Lab can start with only two edgers and grow to full compliment of six edgers.
(800) 782-1399
www.flexlink.com

 
Gerber Coburn

Advanced Lens Processing System
Manufacturer/Distributor: Gerber Coburn
Description: Expandable digital/free-form lens processing system
Target Customer: Surfacing labs

Features/Functions: System’s key components are DTL (Diamond Turning Lathe) generator and MAAT (Multi-Axis Adaptive Technology) polisher. The newest member to the DTL series, the DTL200, is equipped with two axes to cut the lens surface. The x-axis is used for all the roughing passes to quickly remove large amounts of lens material. The voice coil axis, or v-axis, is designed for a final pass surface quality, producing a high quality lens surface that can be polished on the MAAT.

MAAT’s multi-axis design tilts the lens accurately in order to keep the polishing tool perpendicular to the area being polished, while accurately controlling pressure so that material is removed evenly throughout the entire surface of the lens. The sub-aperture polishing system eliminates traditional lap inventory and management, allowing the laboratory to reclaim valuable space for other activities.
(800) 843-1479
www.gerbercoburn.com

 
Schneider Optical Machines

Schneider HSC Master with Power Safety System
Manufacturer/Distributor: Schneider Optical Machines
Description: Schneider’s flagship generators deliver an expanded range of options: real-time performance optimization RPO and power safety system (PSS).
Target Customer: Surfacing labs

Features/Functions: Premium quality with high throughput for Rx and freeform lenses; full surfacing capability for all lab configurations; full flexibility for all curves and materials; fast processing of PC and advanced materials; auto tool detection and adjustment; low cost of ownership. New Power Safety System (PSS) feature reacts within micro seconds in case of unexpected power failures, eliminating the risk of machine damage. Schneider recommends using the HSC Master in conjunction with the automated polisher CCP 102, which polishes two freeform or Rx lenses simultaneously.
(972) 247-4000
www.schneider-om.com

 
In This Edition...
DOLLARS & SENSE
The Tax Effect of Timed Equipment Purchases
THE RX FILES
The Apple of Their Eye
FOCUS ON…
LuAnn Mosier of Pech Optical
NEWS TO USE
LenStock Customers ‘Click to Win'
LAB NOTES

Shamir Names Rite-Style Lab of the Year

E.magine Optical Holds Marketing Seminars

Ophthonix More Than Doubles The Size Of Its Production Facility

Services Held for Janice Heffner of FEA Industries

Michigan ECPs ‘Graduate' from Harbor University

TECH TALK
Lens Inventory and Job Editing
check MARKETING MATTERS
PR Strategies for Optical Labs, Part 1
 

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Gerber Coburn

 
Spotlight on LabTalk

In LabTalk's cover story for November, What's Slowing Down Your Workflow? Steele Young takes a look at the bottlenecks that can occur in an optical laboratory and solutions for keeping things moving at a steady pace. Check out this excerpt:

"Living in Southern California, my daily dose of horrible workflow is the freeway system. Anyone who has driven in Orange County certainly knows of the "Orange Crush"—the nightmare Los Angeles freeway system where the 405 and 5 merge together, squishing 12 traffic lanes into eight. Most labs have at least one Orange Crush—and it's easy to spot: it's generally the area that looks like downtown Manhattan because of giant tray stacks cocooning some poor machine operator. A general rule of thumb: if you can't see the work station, the staging table, or a machine, but you know it's supposed to be there, you might have a bottleneck. Many bottlenecks can be easily addressed with inexpensive solutions that simply take some planning such as:

  • Stagger operators' breaks and lunches
  • Minimize machine downtime through redundancy and the stocking of an adequate supply of spare parts supply. Contact your equipment supplier to get a list of suggested spares.
  • Alternate manual machines after automated machines
  • Proper staffing during rush periods—investigate later start times for some employees, especially in AR department.

Some bottlenecks are addressed by adding horsepower to that production stage. This is where operating budget comes in to play. Overcoming bottlenecks usually require capital or additional overhead—so you need to plan carefully."

To read the entire article, "What's Slowing Down Your Workflow?" log onto www.labtalkonline.com Here you will find the article listed under the Features section.

Buying Group & Lab Association News
Lab of the Year Sunburst
Optical Supply Co-Op (OSC) Hosts Annual Meeting & Golf Tournament— Members of Optical Supply Co-Op, an alliance of independent labs, joined with their suppliers to enjoy a beautiful day of golf at the Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas on October 3 followed by meetings focused on marketing strategies for 2008. In addition, members attended supplier exhibits followed by dinner, entertainment and the annual awards presentation.

Sunburst Optics in Syracuse, N.Y. was awarded the 2007 Lab of the Year Award for outstanding support. Accepting on behalf of Sunburst Optics was Jeremy Gnade (pictured here, far right, with Danny Pugh and Jessica Tanner of OSC and Optical Prescription Lab). The Supplier of the Year Award was presented to Essilor Lenses; Bob Colucci and Phil Whitaker accepted the award on the company’s behalf.

OSI Party
OSI Party is No ‘Mirage’—OSI (Optical Services International) hosted a post-Vision Expo West reception for its members at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. Pictured at the party, left to right, are Jacquie Honstrom, Next Generation Ophthalmics, Dana Weeks, OSI, Robbie Hernandez, Collard Rose Optical, Liv Rodriguez and Shannon Skaggs of Truckee Meadows Optical and Dale Parmenteri, Balester Optical.