Lab Advisor
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A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS

November 2010

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from Transitions

Dollars and Sense

New Tax Incentives for Laboratories

Dollars and SenseIn an effort to stimulate small business investment and job creation, the government signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (“Act”). Included in the legislation are some provisions that could significantly lower taxes in the near term for labs.

Previously, labs could expense under Section 179 of the tax code up to $250,000 for 2010 limited by a phase out for property placed in service of $800,000. The “Act” expanded the amount of expensing in 2010 and 2011 to $500,000 with the phase out now beginning at $2,000,000. This means that for amounts spent above $2,000,000, the 179 election is reduced dollar for dollar. Under provisions of the Small Business Work and Opportunity Act of 2007, a Section 179 expense was not allowed for building expenditures and improvements. Conversely, the current Act allows that up to $250,000 of the $500,000 section 179 property can be for qualified leasehold improvement property. This means that in addition to purchases of equipment, the lab can also see current tax relief for building modifications required to install and operate the new equipment.

The Act also extended bonus depreciation for 2010 which expired in 2009 retroactively to the beginning of the year. Bonus depreciation allows a company to write off 50 percent of the cost of qualified property that was placed in service in the current year. The 50 percent bonus depreciation is above and beyond normal depreciation.

Another feature of the Act is the change in Built-in-Gains Tax rules for companies converting from C-Corporations to S-Corporations. Under prior legislation, a business converting from a C-Corp to S-Corp was required to hold appreciable assets for a 10-year period before their sale or be subject to a 35 percent tax on all gains that existed at the election. The new law reduces the holding period to five years beginning in 2011—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 jam@hpcpuckett.com.

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Lab Notes

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VisionWeb Names 2010 Lab Of The Year Honorees

Visionweb Announces 2010 Lab Of The Year Honorees VisionWeb announced the honorees for its 2010 Lab of the Year program. The program, now in its fifth year, rewards spectacle lens laboratories that have shown exemplary results growing and maintaining customer loyalty using VisionWeb. This year’s honorees are Luzerne Optical, Wilkes Barre, Pa.; Meridian Optical Laboratory, Phoenix, Ariz.; and US Optical, East Syracuse, N.Y.

To determine the honorees, VisionWeb measured the ability of the lab to retain and grow VisionWeb usage among their customers, and their willingness and ability to promote VisionWeb to their customers. In addition, the votes each lab received from VisionWeb members were incorporated into the final calculations. The voting process took place from July through September 2010 on the VisionWeb website. VisionWeb Lab of the Year honorees are featured in a special section of the site, and will receive an award commemorating their recognition.

Labs interested in learning more about the Lab of the Year program or VisionWeb services should contact VisionWeb Customer Service at (800) 874-6601 or email customerservice@visionweb.com.

Reliable Optics Becomes Essilor Partner Lab

Essilor has acquired a majority interest in Reliable Optics, a Brooklyn, N.Y.–based prescription laboratory. Reliable Optics generates approximately $4.3 million in revenue per year, according to Essilor. Lab principals Howard Fried, OD and Eddie Purman remain on board.

Wholesale Lab Execs Open Lens Stock House

Opti-StockVeteran wholesale lab executives Richard Cherry and Bob Carter of RD Cherry Optical recently opened Opti-Stock, a lens stockhouse in Lincoln Park, Mich. The new company, which is separate from RD Cherry, consists of a full-service warehouse offering a complete inventory of finished lenses including Essilor, Hoya, Seiko, SOLA, Shamir, Transitions, Gentex, Crizal, Crizal Alizé and Crizal Avance, according to Richard Cherry. He noted that Opti-Stock is also developing a frame line and a line of optical accessories.

“We hope to be a one-stop shop for all finishing lab needs and retail products,” he said.

The Opti-Stock building is a newly remodeled 2,800 square foot facility located near I-75.

Above, the Opti-Stock management team in their new warehouse. From L to R, co-owner Richard Cherry, customer service manager Jamie Rissane, operations manager Debbie Mullins, team leader Kara Collins and co-owner Bob Carter.

Homer Optical Announces Express Digital Delivery Service

Following the launch of its in-house digital processing in April, Homer Optical Co. is now offering an Express Digital Delivery Guarantee. Under the new program, Homer Optical guarantees that uncut digital orders received at its Silver Spring, Md. facility by 12:00 noon leave within 24 hours; complete digital orders are guaranteed to leave the facility within 48 hours from when the job and frame are received. Homer’s Express Digital Delivery Service includes choice of Crizal, Crizal Alizé or Crizal Avancé.

Concurrent with the Express Digital Delivery Guarantee Program, Homer is also offering training to eye care professionals who are confused by the many types of digital processes and products. Called “Demystifying Digital,” Homer Optical sales consultants are available to help staff understand and leverage today’s new products to better meet patients’ visual needs. In-office breakfast meetings, “lunch and learns,” and after hours dinner meetings are available.

Allentown Optical Adds Leybold AR Coating Lab

Allentown Optical Allentown Optical, a full-service independent lab in Allentown, Pa. has installed a state-of-the-art anti-reflective coating lab equipped with a Leybold Optics CCSII AR coating machine and premium AR coating processes. The acquisition of this equipment and technology will allow Allentown to better serve its customers by bringing their AR coating production in-house.

“With the acquisition of this technology, Allentown Optical will now offer the latest in extremely durable and long lasting AR coatings to our customers...” said Joe Felker, VP of Allentown Optical, who noted that the lab underwent a significant facilities expansion to add this equipment, coupled with intensive staff training.

“Joe and his team at Allentown Optical had stringent quality requirements so we were able to customize our equipment and process technology to give Allentown Optical and their customers the same level of quality coatings that typically had only been available to the leading lens manufacturers, while anticipating their future growth. We are extremely excited to be working so closely with such a quality Rx Lab and look forward to a long term partnership,” said Kevin Cross, U.S. ophthalmic manager for Leybold Optics.

Above, MikeSprague of Allentown Optical loads the Leybold CCSII’s AR dome.

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Focus On

Cherry OpticalGoing Digital: Accurate Optical

Accurate Optical, a six-unit optical chain based in Salisbury, Maryland, recently entered the digital lens-manufacturing arena when it installed Gerber Coburn’s Advanced Lens Processing System (ALPS) and a Simplimatic automation module in its central lab. The ALPS system consists of a Gerber Coburn DTL200 generator paired with two MAAT polishers. Accurate Optical also changed the lab’s blocking process from a wax based “freebond” to alloy.

The addition of the new hardware and associated technology required an improvement in the lab’s LMS (Lab Management Software), company CEO Stephen L. Franklin pointed out. “After installing the new equipment and interfacing with various manufacturer’s software suites, we decided to add C.C. Systems’ Labzilla to our lab to better integrate our digital capabilities into our traditional lab,” said Franklin, who is seen here at left inspecting the Gerber Coburn DTL200 generator with Accurate Optical's regional manager Robert Murphy.

The new technology helped Accurate reduce its labor costs. “It is a horrible time to lay off productive members of your team, but this technology created such efficiency in our operation, that we were able to reduce our manufacturing team from nine full-time employees to five,” said Franklin. “The transition was challenging, but now that the dust is settling, we are finding that we have the right number of associates in our lab and the associated payroll savings is being applied to the debt service financing for the equipment purchase.”

Click here to read more about Accurate Optical and other labs that are “going digital” in Vision Monday’s Special Report: Digital Immersion.


LabTalk Spotlight   November 2010

LabTalk SpotlightA Balancing Act: Automation & Employees
By Julie Bos


When we consider how lens processing is done today and how it will look in the future, what do we see? One trend is clear—a strategic move toward higher levels of automation. However, as increased automation answers the call for higher efficiency and labor savings, this trend also raises some serious questions—specifically about labs’ ongoing dependence on employees. Does increased automation really eliminate the need for employees altogether? If not, what’s the ideal relationship between automation and employee resources? Several of today’s leading lens laboratories provided their thoughts on these topics.

Toledo Optical is one growing lab that’s actively adding automation to increase its overall efficiency and capacity. However, its stance on human capital is quite clear.

To find out how Toledo Optical and other labs are balancing automation and employees, log onto www.labtalkonline.com and go to the Features section where you will find this complete article.

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Make What You Say, Pay!

You Get What You Negotiate

Make What you Say, Pay!

How Smart is Your Wish List? Imagine one of the following situations: A. You are being promoted to a new position in your company, B. You are being asked to lead a temporary task force within your company, or C. You are being hired for a new job at another company. Now, list all the items you think are negotiable...

When I asked this question during a speech last week to a high powered group of Wall Street executives, it was quite surprising to see what did not appear on their lists and how ignoring those issues could hurt them in the long run. Certainly, they had the obvious issues like compensation and benefits, but many were missing some of the items below that could really affect their career success. Compare your list to this one. How did you do?

1. How many keys will you have to play on the piano? What support can you expect in terms of staff, access to other departments, budgets, technology, research, expense accounts, training (for yourself or for your team) other? What will you need to succeed in the job?

2. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...” Wrong. Will you be called Sales Rep or Relationship Manager? EVP Sales or Chief Revenue Officer? HR Manager or Talent Chief? Different descriptions will anchor you in different ways in other people’s minds. How do you want to be positioned?

3. “Who loves ya, baby?” A former boss used to say, “Things are as important as you make them.” How will your new job be announced: As a blurb in the company paper? In an announcement from HR? In a memo from the CEO? In a press release? At a cocktail party in your honor? How important will you appear and how will that impact your ability to get things done? Hand in hand with how you are announced is. Who will you report to? Are you reporting to a line or support executive? How important is that position and person in the organization? Rightly or wrongly, how will that reporting line be viewed by others? Perception is reality.

4. “The buck stops here.” What will be the scope of your authority? Will you be able to hire, fire, change strategy, re-organize, manage others (or accounts) as you see fit? Will you be able to work on quick wins or are you going to have a projects dictated to you by others? How will you be measured? What are the milestones? What control do you have over those? If you are going to be accountable, be certain you can control the factors that affect your success.

5. And don’t forget...you. What personal issues should you negotiate? Flex time? Attendance at conferences? Necessary expenses (payment for work-outs out of town)? Flying perks (business class for cross country or overseas trips)? Little things make a huge difference in your well-being on the job. Include them on your list.

The Devil—and Job Success—is in the Details
Your moment of negotiating strength is at the beginning in the discussion about your position or new assignment. It is difficult to go back in time to make changes to an agreement. Do not fear being “pushy” or “too aggressive.” Studies show that people who negotiate aggressively, in the best sense of that word, enjoy greater company respect, more job satisfaction, and are given more leadership opportunities than people who would shy away from bringing up these issues. You get what you negotiate. You regret what you don't. —Anne Miller

©2010, Anne Miller, author, “Metaphorically Selling”
www.annemiller.com.

New Products

Adage

Adage

Manufacturer: Younger Optics
Description:
Short corridor progressive polycarbonate lenses with NuPolar polarization
Features:
160 degrees of viewing freedom in the distance zone; minimum fitting height of 13mm; very wide near zone for a short design; generous corridor width for a clear view in all areas; 90 percent of add is reached at only 11mm below pupil; 76mm effective blank size; no secondary calculations necessary for use; NuPolar polarizing filter blocks blinding glare; polycarbonate material well-suited to outdoor activities. High adhesion ensures lenses will not delaminate or separate; consistent true curve control for today’s digitally processed free-form requirements; high polarization efficiency. Excellent color uniformity and consistency.
Availability: Polycarbonate with NuPolar gray or brown
(800) 877-5367
www.youngeroptics.com

Azio and India

Azio and India

Manufacturer: Essilor
Description:
First personalized ethnic lenses available in the U.S.
Features: Designed with Essilor’s W.A.V.E. Technology 2. Lenses provide sharp vision at any distance and in any light, especially challenging low-light conditions, with easy accommodation and fast adaptation. Varilux Physio Enhanced Azio and Varilux Physio Enhanced India lenses are personalized based on three key areas for Chinese and Indian ethnic groups:

-Ametropia: Varilux Physio Enhanced Azio and Varilux Physio Enhanced India lenses account for the unique needs of different eye shapes.
-Physiology: These lenses are also personalized to the specific facial anatomy of Chinese and Indian patients.
-Reading Behavior: Varilux Physio Enhanced Azio and Varilux Physio Enhanced India lenses provide a personalized near-vision zone for these specific patients.

Essilor Azio Single Vision lenses are the only single vision product class with W.A.V.E. Technology: Wavefront Advanced Vision Enhancement, offering a personalized single vision lens for Chinese wearers with clearer and sharper vision as well as wider fields of vision. These lenses optimize each prescription for each position of wear, assuring optimal vision, according to Essilor
(800) 843-3937
www.variluxusa.com

#3009F Budgetool

#3009F Budgetool

Manufacturer: Western Optical Supply
Description:
Foam Grip Wide Jaw Angling Plier
Features:
Smaller grip and the same construction of Western’s heavier duty tools. Foam grip wide jaw angling plier is for adjusting pantoscopic tilt and temple angles on all types of frames. Opens extra wide to accommodate large temples and hinges. Recessed hole in each jaw protects the hinge screw.
(800) 423-3294
www.westernoptical.com

Kodak Digital Progressive Lenses

Kodak Digital Progressive Lenses

Kodak Precise Digital Lenses, Kodak Precise Short Digital Lenses, Kodak Concise Digital Lenses
Manufacturer: Signet Armorlite
Description:
New generation of Kodak progressive lenses designed to benefit most wearers. Hyperopes will find wider near and distance-viewing areas; myopes will experience a wider, clearer distance area. Wearers with stronger prescriptions will enjoy the most significant improvements.
Features:
Designed by Crossbows Optical and produced in Signet Armorlite’s advanced technology optical lab, Signetek. Signet Armorlite’s Digital Design Technology creates a complex, precise three-dimensional back surface, which improves the optical performance of each of these front-surface progressive designs. Based on typical wearing conditions, this technology provides more consistent optical performance over the range of prescription powers, according to Signet Armorlite. Reduction in wavefront errors results in sharper vision in principal viewing areas of the lens. The Digital Design Technology also allows flatter base curves, providing lenses with a more appealing cosmetic appearance without sacrificing optical performance.
Availability: Offered in a wide range of lens materials, including clear, photochromic and polycarbonate choices. Kodak AR coatings, which are durable and easy-to-clean, may be added.
(800) 950-5367
www.signetarmorlite.com

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Andy Karp

Andrew Karp
Editor, Lab Advisor
akarp@jobson.com

 

Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk
cwalker@jobson.com

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