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A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS November 2012


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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.

 

Local Eye Site

 

BOOKMARK

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 jam@hpcpuckett.com.

 

ecpwebsitestore.com

 

Focus On

 

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?"




LabTalk Spotlight

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.


SightNation
Make What You Say Pay

Be Bold in Nailing Down Business


As everyone tries to nail down business before year-end, there is nothing more frustrating than clients delaying their decisions, to which I say, choose your words carefully and, as one of my clients calls it, "Be bold!" Here are five ways to do this:

1. Remind clients of the benefits and value they said they wanted and liked in your product or service. Remind them of what they are losing by delaying.

2. If they are giving answers like, "We're not quite there yet" or "We're working on it," politely dig to find out what that means. You might be able to surface an unmet concern or help them work out the obstacle to moving forward.

3. If dealing with a middleman, ask if he personally is in favor of taking action now. If he replies in the affirmative, ask about the decision-maker and what she is like. Depending on her working style, she may need more information, more reassurance, more creative ideas, or more attention from your senior management than your middleman has been giving her. Then, craft a strategy to get agreement from her.

4. Consider sending metaphorical props or an apt quote or cartoon a day to illustrate the benefit of committing sooner rather than later. (One of my favorites is the cartoon of the secretary handing a note to her boss as he returns to lunch with the caption, "While you were out, the paradigm shifted." Your note would be words to the effect that business is moving quickly and (because of all the reasons you would have discussed with them earlier) it is in their interest to commit now, rather than later. Do they agree?)

5. Whatever you do, watch your language. It is so easy to burst out with "What do I have to do to get you to agree?" That reflects how you feel, but it turns off buyers, since they don't really care about you or being pushed into a contract. Far more effective to say, "What do you need to know or see to help you decide to move forward now?"

With the election finished, both candidates emphasized that the direction now is forward. Do the same. Tactfully but assertively help your prospects move forward with you in business.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!
©2012, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling"
www.annemiller.com

NEW PRODUCTS

HKS Centrifuge System


Manufacturer: Universal Photonics

Description: An efficient centrifuge system for optical laboratories that includes frequency controlled pumps, ultrasonic level sensors and other features that are "firsts" in the U.S. market.

Features: The HKS offers a number of cost-effective features. An automatic, single source system, it has the capability to monitor and/or adjust operation from on-site or off-site locale. This can be done from office desktop or remotely from any mobile computer, including smart phone technology. The system automatically monitors and adjusts itself; additions of coolant, water, or de-foaming agents are all managed by the system. The higher and cleaner coolant flow results in greatly reduced generator maintenance. An offsite system troubleshooting and required adjustments available via Universal Photonics and HKS. The highly efficient delivery and recall result in longer coolant life and reduced cost. Modular design, custom fit to space requirements, allows system growth in keeping with business expansion, ending whole system replacement. One hundred percent of the coolant in system runs through centrifuge assuring cleaner, reusable coolant.

Other features include:

  • Cleaner coolant with longer life yields greater than 50 percent reduction in the annual amount of coolant purchased.
  • Coolant is "squeezed out" so plastic chip waste is virtually dry and nearly every drop of coolant is returned.
  • Virtually dry waste output.
  • Up to 70 percent less plastic chip volume means smaller dumpsters and fewer refuse pick-ups.
  • Frequency controlled supply pumps and variable speed motors allow generators to operate upon demand, thereby conserving energy.
  • Advanced heat exchange system constantly gauges temperature, regulating coolant at very close tolerances.
  • All pumps and motors are efficiency rated to save power and cut costs.
  • Closed loop system means less housekeeping is required. Floors are dry and clean (plastic-chip free).
  • Generator to dumpster waste removal; no employee waste handling needed.

www.universalphotonics.com; (516) 935-4000


QC² lens (Quick Check/Quality Control)


Manufacturer: Precision Tool Technologies, Inc. is introducing the QC² lens.

Description: The QC² lens (patent pending) grid design provides a quick visual check for identifying axis and position errors as well as combination errors in the lens finishing process.

Features: The QC² lens is designed to be used every day in the lab's set up process for checking size and axis on edgers. In addition to checking size and axis, the QC² lens validates the entire finishing process. The QC² lens Quality Control process helps to provide the lab with first-time throughput, eliminating the cost and time of redoing today's expensive lenses. The QC² lens is designed to work in conjunction with Precision Tool Technologies' current products: Truform Tracing Standard, Lens Alignment Gauges, Drilled Rimless Gauges and the Digi-Sizer II for digital measurement of the lens circumference.

www.precisiontooltech.com; (800) 450-8665

 

Phantom Automatic Lens Tinting Machine (Model 95) and Phantom Heating System (Model 2V)


Manufacturer: Phantom Research Laboratories is introducing a new tinting system consisting of the Phantom Automatic Lens Tinting Machine, Model 95 and Phantom Heating System, Model 2V.

Description: The Phantom Automatic Lens Tinting Machine, Model 95 is a state-of-the-art, microcomputer controlled, automatic lens tinting machine developed for both solid and gradient tinting with absolutely no lines.

Features: The freestanding machine takes seconds to set up, is easy to use and features virtually silent operation. The versatile arm can rotate 360 degrees, and can accommodate up to four pairs of lenses at one time. The machine features continuous agitation of the dye solution, offers a 30-second to 60-minute (one minute increments) digital timer, micro-controller with geared stepper motor for accuracy and an electronic beeper to indicate cycle completion. Package includes the Automatic Lens Tinting Machine, one lens holder (Model V1-RS), and a UL listed power adapter.

Description: The Phantom Heating System, Model 2V consists of two stainless steel quart-sized tanks (vats), in black copolymer housing for minimum heat radiation and maximum thermal insulation.

Features: Designed to optimally heat optical lens tinting solutions and other similar materials. The standard two quart unit can hold up to four mini vats (optional). The system incorporates one 550 Watt stainless steel heating element, designed specifically for heating OptiSafe Heat Transfer Fluid without burning it. This is a common problem in many heating units. The system is also supplied complete with vats, lids and starter kit for professional lens tinting.

www.phantomresearch.com; (800) 225-5559

_

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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