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A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS September 2011

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Important Changes to Estate Gift and Capital Gains Tax Laws


It is time to revisit how changes implemented by Congress may affect your business, the sale of your business or gift and estate taxes going forward. Unfortunately, Congress and the current Administration have chosen to implement short term solutions to long term tax burdens.

As it now stands long term capital gains tax rates remain at the "Bush Tax Cut" level of 15 percent for Federal taxes coupled with the relevant state income tax. As of January 1, 2013 these rates are expected to increase to 20 percent at the Federal level, absent additional legislation to the contrary. If business owners are anticipating a sale of assets or stock the variance in the rate is an element that should be factored into any timing issues. The Democrats in Congress and the Administration have proposed additional tax increases that both directly and indirectly increase the cost of either a sale or continued operating profits for closely held business entities that flow through to the owners such as Subchapter S corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.

As of January 1, 2011 and until December 31, 2012 Congress has increased the available gift tax exclusion to $5,000,000 per transferor (reduced however, by previous taxable gifts made when the gift tax exclusion was $1,000,000 before January 1, 2011). Business owners looking to transfer their estates or otherwise make transfers of ownership to family members should consider either outright gifts of ownership interest or the utilization of a transfer into trust under an irrevocable gift.

There are a number of ways that you may be able to take advantage of all or a portion of the $5,000,000 per owner (or spouse) exclusion before it expires. The uncertainty of the availability of the status of the increase in the exclusion past December 31, 2012, however, gives cause to meet with your estate planning tax attorney or CPA at the earliest possible date.

The result of the current political climate is that we lack the ability to predict the tax climate after January 1, 2013 and given the state of affairs, it is more likely that taxes will be increased rather than decreased.—Hunter T. Puckett is Vice President and General Counsel, 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 Hunter T. Puckett at hpuckett@hpcpuckett.com.

Puckett's series on wholesale labs and E-commerce will continue next month.


DAC Vision


 

DAC Vision

Robertson Volunteers Services
at S.C. Health Fair

Robertson Optical Laboratories of Greenville, S.C., volunteered optical services by providing fittings, measurements and processing orders for eye glasses at one of South Carolina's largest health fairs, Mission 2011 at the Carolina Coliseum August 5 and 6. Thousands of uninsured individuals attended this health fair, where they received various healthcare, vision and dental services. Robertson Optical of Columbia, S.C. and Greenville, S.C. began volunteering for this fair last year and plan to continue next year by participating in Mission 2012.

Elease Atterbury of Columbia, S.C., pictured above, left, is measured for eye glasses by Kimberly Griffin, business development representative of Robertson Optical of Columbia, at Mission 2011.

Safilo USA Forms Lab Network to Support Carrera X-Cede Rollout

Safilo USA announced that its new line of Rx-able Carrera sunglasses featuring X-cede color enhancing polarized lenses powered by NXT technology has begun shipping to select optical accounts and now has its optical lab network in place to handle X-cede Rx processing. Safilo USA has partnered with a select national network of elite optical labs to handle the precision Rx processing of X-cede lenses so that patients will receive authentic X-cede prescription lenses. The seven labs are:

  • Carl Zeiss Vision Florida, Clearwater, Fla.
  • Carl Zeiss Vision Northwest, Clackamas, Ore.
  • Expert Optics, Shorewood, Ill.
  • Pech Optical, Sioux City, Iowa
  • Perfect Optics, Vista, Calif.
  • Three Rivers Optical, Pittsburg, Pa.
  • US Optical, Syracuse, N.Y.

OLA Selects Essilor IDD Technical Support Team for
2011 Directors' Choice Award

The Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) has announced the Essilor IDD Technical Support Team as the recipient of the 2011 OLA Directors' Choice Award. The IDD Technical Support Team's activities include lab re-engineering, trouble shooting, training and technology transfer. The Team has a roster of well-recognized names in the lab business, and including Dave Cuffe, KC Haffey, John Leasure, Randy McFadden, Dave Rick and Joe Vitale. Former members include Scott Pennock, J.R. Smith and Doug Smith.

The Directors' Choice Award will be presented to the Essilor IDD Technical Support Team at the Hall of Fame banquet on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 during The OLA Annual Meeting and International Vision Expo West in Las Vegas.


DAC Vision

Focus On

Precision Optical's Mark Becker

By Judith Lee

For a company that values new technology, Precision Optical has made an unusual choice: to put people first.

"Though our investment in new technology is critically necessary, we have been most fortunate to add new, talented staff," said Precision president Mark Becker. "Our future growth is dependent on a strong base of customer retention and referrals. This will have a good chance of occurring if we successfully assist our customers in enhancing their patient satisfaction and capture rates."

Becker explained that the lab's decision to focus resources around quality and service has been enabled by its location in San Diego, where many educated professionals are available. Precision Optical has hired non-optical people who bring other important skills to the table.

"Aptitude and attitude is in high demand and we are always exploring different ways to make our small lab competitive and appealing," Becker said.

The expanded staff has been trained to operate new technology, including a Crizalnon-glare coating center installed about 18 months ago. Precision is currently installing digital surfacing, and intends to move ahead with multi-axis edging in 2012.

"The installation of advanced technology is necessary for our lab to assume a cutting edge position in our marketplace. Ideally it will allow us attract a greater amount of unique work from discriminating ECPs," Becker noted.

But the learning curve has not been forgiving.

"We were green when we installed non-glare coating. Regardless how much our vendor prepared us, we underestimated the commitment it would take to produce a quality product," Becker admitted.

In a market that has a "big box" store around each corner, Precision Optical is focused onpremium optical products and providing ECPs with presentation tools and staff training to enhance their sales. The lab also offers incentives that ECPs may use to enhance practice and staff.

Precision has not ignored online marketing, investing in a website developed as a resource for consumers and ECPs. Becker noted that with effort, the website has a more favored spot with many search engines.

"Primarily, we are trying to use our site as a way for a consumer to find a local eye care professional who happens to be one of our customers," Becker said. "If our customers grow, there is a good chance we will too. Our continued energy will be to drive consumers to our top customers."



LabTalk Spotlight

Right On Track: Lab Automation and Efficiencies

By Julie Bos

Whether your lab is well underway with automation or still stuck at the starting line, one thing is certain: Increasing automation is a critical component to crossing the finish line with higher efficiency, higher profits and a more competitive business model.

"There's a great interest in automation today—even if for no other reasons than to help control costs and improve the movement of product throughout the laboratory," said Richard Palmer, consultant at Practical Engineering. "Creating an effective automated laboratory is as much technical as it is an exercise in logistics."

The challenge, of course, is making the right automation choices at the right time. Doing too much too soon can have crippling effects on your productivity (not to mention your capital budget). Yet doing nothing can lead to higher-than-necessary labor costs, missed profits, a lost competitive edge and more. It can also increase the stronghold of another growing threat—off-shoring.

"Off-shoring—with its low labor costs—is really a threat to manufacturing in this country these days, but a good automation strategy enables optical labs to compete with off-shore manufacturing because it can help labs drive down labor costs and keep jobs here in the states," said Ian Gregg, director of surfacing products for Satisloh North America.

How can your lab get to the next level of automated efficiency without sabotaging your current production levels and workload? To review the step-by-step guide, visit labtalkonline.com and go to the Features section where you will find this complete article.


DAC Vision
Make What You Say Pay

At the Corner of...

Dozens of articles have been written about Steve Jobs and his recent departure from Apple announcement. All in one way or another praise his genius, frequently characterized as someone who brilliantly married technology with design, made it cool, and, as a result, simply and elegantly transformed the way we all communicate, listen to music, and access information. One article in particular made an observation that applies to all who sell...

Steven Johnson, author of "Where Good Ideas Come From," wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "At the end of his 2010 speech at the iPad's debut, Steve Jobs mused on the secret to Apple's success: 'It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.' He illustrated it with a street sign at an imagined intersection between 'Technology' and 'Liberal Arts.' He meant it as a description of the kind of thinking—multi-disciplinary, sensitive to human needs and potential—that created the products."

What Corner Are You Working?

Jobs' intersection analogy applies to sales success today. Because markets are so highly competitive and sophisticated, so fearful of change, and so short on attention, time, and money, sales teams need to be working at the corner of Sales Competence and Sales Savvy. The former, though essential, is no longer sufficient for outstanding sales performance.

Sales Competence—the "technology" of selling, if you will, means understanding and mastering the sales process. For example, you are able to

  • Get appointments
  • Engage buyers in a meaningful discussion
  • Present valuable solutions
  • Negotiate, &
  • Advance the business

Sales Savvy—the "liberal arts" of selling, means someone who

  • Understands, not only products and services, but also understands the business drivers behind buyers' successes and failures
  • Deals with different buyer personality profiles with ease and maturity
  • Thinks creatively to help solve problems, build relationships, and deepen business

If you want to make your buyers' hearts sing and your cash register ring (couldn't resist the rhyme, sorry), it's this "multi-disciplinary" approach that will ensure your sales success.
If you are already at the corner of Sales Competence and Sales Savvy, congratulations. If you would like to get there a little more quickly, be sure you have a plan for getting there. If you need some help finding your way, give me a call.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!
—Anne Miller

©2011, Anne Miller, author, “Metaphorically Selling” www.annemiller.com.

NEW PRODUCTS

Hi-Vex

Manufacturer/Distributor: Conant Lens/Quest Optical Special Lab

Description:
New lens material with unique features that make it optimal not only for free-form lens processing but for resisting high velocity impact.

Features:
Hi-Vex Abbe value of 46 has minimal longitudinal aberration and will assure superb visual performance in terms of clarity and sharpness of image even at high power Rx or high value prisms, according to Quest Optical Specialty Lab, which specializes in processing Hi-Vex and helping to introduce it in the U.S. The material's refractive index is 1.56, which puts it halfway between the refractive indices of poly and Trivex. Consequently, Hi-Vex lenses are thinner than Trivex and slightly thicker than poly.

Hi-Vex passes the ANSI Z87.1 High Velocity Impact Test, which makes it an excellent lens material choice for children's eyewear, sports eyewear, and safety eyewear. The specific gravity is 1.25 g/cm³ which makes it 2 percent heavier than poly and 8 percent lighter than CR-39 [monomer by PPG] which makes it an excellent choice for wearers who want to enjoy a light wearing experience. Hi-Vex has also passed the Drilled Hole Lens Strength and Safety Test of Z87 by COLTS Lab, making it is an excellent choice for drilling and other rimless mounts. Hi-Vex has 100 percent UVA and UVB protection.

"Hi-Vex material's additional significant advantages is ease of processing on high definition lab equipment," said Michael Walach, president of quest Optical Laboratory, pictured here with a Hi-Vex lens he processed. "The Hi-Vex material is brittle like hard resin. When processed on HD single point technology it cuts into powder as opposed to poly or Trivex, which, when cut, pulls continuous thread which gives it a tendency to create a circular pattern on the lens, frequently with a nipple in the center. Also, in the free-form polishing process it has advantage. Due to the Hi-Vex brittle material characteristic the free-form polishing process is notably shorter than on poly or Trivex and the surface quality is as good as on CR-39 [monomer by PPG] or other high-index materials."

Availability: Hi-Vex is available through Conant Optics in Marietta, Ga. In finished stock lenses and semi-finished blanks. Hi-Vex can also be ordered through Quest Optical Specialty Lab in a wide variety of RXs in SV, FT, HD RS, individually optimized PAL, IO computer, IO SV, and SF blanks, or finished stock. Hi-Vex photochromic SF will be available in the fall 2011.

www.conantoptical.com; questopticallab.com


Alustra

Manufacturer: DAC Vision

Description:
New premium polish pad

Features:
Exclusive fiber combination produces the utmost in surface finish and clarity on all resin lenses, particularly polycarbonate and Trivex. Alustra enhances polish performance by positioning slurry on the lens plane, yet has low pad carry-out characteristics to optimize polish consumption. High-quality textile backing provides firmness with excellent conformability. Custom-tailored release paper in combination with its high-quality textile backing results in ease of use for operators. All American-sourced materials provide quality and cost consistency.

Availability: DAC Vision offers Alustra in its most popular shapes with low-tack or high-tack adhesive options.

www.dacvision.com; (800) 800-1550


DynaGrip

Manufacturer: Dynamic Labs

Description:
Newly designed anti-slip disc prevents slipping and twisting on even the slickest AR coated lenses, according to Dynamic Labs.

Features:
An innovative design incorporates a state of the art film and adhesive that has not yet been used in optical. By combining these two materials, Dynamic Labs has created a product that works on every lens and coating that they were able to find. Dynamic Labs recommends this product for any lab looking for an intermediary film to eliminate the problems associated with hydrophobic lenses.

Availability:
Solid oval and center-punched diamond in 500-disc rolls.

www.dynamiclabs.net; (888) 339-6264

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Send us news about your lab's new products, services, special events, tech advances or personnel changes.

Andy Karp

Andrew Karp
Editor, Lab Advisor
akarp@jobson.com

 

Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk
cwalker@jobson.com

Visit LabTalkonline.com for additional articles of interest about labs.

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