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A MONTHLY BRIEFING FOR OPTICAL LABORATORY OWNERS AND MANAGERS December 2012



Hoya Launches No Frills Prescription Lab Service

Hoya Vision Care has launched a new business unit that offers customers an economical alternative to standard lab services and products. The web-based business, called Uncuts Direct, offers low prices on branded and private label lenses.

Although there is no mention of Hoya on Uncuts Direct’s website, Hoya’s director of online optical, Clay Musslewhite (pictured here), confirmed the company’s involvement. He said Hoya decided to take a no-frills approach to satisfy customers who asked for a more affordable prescription service.

“A lot of what customers pay for is the warranty and the bells whistles of the sales rep coming in,” Musslewhite said. “Our idea is to offer lab services in a simple, straightforward way. We have a much more slimmed down offering than what many labs offer. And our prices are lower than Hoya typically sells things for. This gives us more opportunities to touch more customers.”

Uncuts Direct offers Hoya lenses as well as other popular brands. Prescription orders are processed at various Hoya labs, Musslewhite noted.

X-Tra Lite Optical Announces New Location And New Digital Surfacing Lab

X-Tra Lite Optical has moved to a new location in and added a new digital surfacing lab to support their on-going growth. The new lab space and acquisition of new digital technology from Schneider Optical Machines will allow X-Tra Lite to produce digital lenses in-house.

X-Tra Lite’s new facility in Huntington Beach, Calif. has over 5500 square feet and it built to support further expansion. This new lab will allow X-Tra Lite and its employees to comfortably expand without further need to relocate.

“X-Tra Lite has always been committed to providing our customers with the best service and the best products,” said Kenneth Lin, vice president of X-Tra Lite, who is seen here in the new Schneider-equipped facility. “Our expansion plans dictated that we move to a larger facility to support our growing customer base. We also needed the larger space to accommodate the added equipment investment to bring digital processing in house to X-Tra Lite.”

Kevin Cross, Schneider’s director of sales for North America, commented, “Working with Ken and his team at X-Ttra Lite has been great. It is very rewarding to see the growth they’ve experienced and how hard they have worked. We look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come.”

US Optical Makes Dalai Lama’s Lenses

Wholesale lab US Optical manufactured three pairs of spectacle lenses for the Dalai Lama's eyeglasses while he was in Syracuse, N.Y. for a panel discussion and concert at Syracuse University on October 8 and 9. In a note to the Dalai Lama, the owners of US Optical, Ralph, Ron and Robert Cotran, wrote, “It was an honor for US Optical to manufacture prescription lenses for your holiness.”

A customer of US Optical, optician Jim Morrison of Renken & Morrison Opticians recommended the East Syracuse lab. While in the Syracuse area, the Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, also had an eye examination from Fayetteville-based ophthalmologist Dr. William M. Tucker.

 


 

BOOKMARK

Keeping Pace With Change

It’s been a pleasure writing for this column for the last three years. We’ve tried to bring relevant, current topics to lab owners in an effort to provoke reflection on your businesses. We’ve been through the record keeping process with an emphasis on accounting practices. We’ve gone through the decision making process with an emphasis on whether or not to invest in a project. We’ve talked taxes and their impact to your business, and we’ve also talked about the consolidation that continues to happen in this industry.

The most feedback I’ve ever received was from commentary on change. I started working in the wholesale optical industry almost 15 years ago. I have to say that there is not much of what was there then that now is in the same form. True, there are many of the same actors, but what they are doing is very different. And some of the actors are gone. Most recently, we’ve discussed politics, the fiscal cliff, and healthcare reform.

Regardless of what all of our personal views are on the topics, there will continue to be change. My sincere hope is that you as business owners are able to brace yourselves for that change or ready to embrace it. We will see what happens over the next few years, but my bet is that you will continue to face the challenges with the same courage you have always had. You don’t need to be afraid of the change occurring, but you do need to “fear” it by staying current with the issues and preparing yourselves and your lab for what is to come.

I wish you Happy Holidays and a bright and prosperous New Year.—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.

 

Local Eye Site

 

Focus On

 

First Look Optical's Ron Jackson

By Judith Lee

To summarize First Look Optical’s customer strategy in a phrase, you might say: “Snuggle up, baby, it’s cold outside!”

“In today’s competitive climate, we are staying closer to our customers than ever before,” noted Ron Jackson, director of optical manufacturing for the Wood River, Ill. lab. “We have increased the level of support provided by our customer service department and we’ve maintained a strong focus on turn-time reduction.”

First Look is a division of NuCrown, which owns 30 retail stores. Their orders represent 40 percent of First Look business. The other 60 percent of business comes from independent ECPs across the U.S.

One way that First Look adds fuel to the fire is by responding to market trends.

“We’re paying attention to market trends of patients, both positive and negative. Currently the major customer focus are in the areas of free form which we provide as MasterPiece HD and we continue to provide specialty lens processing (slaboffs, high powers, high prism) for several key accounts,” Jackson said.

Enabling that response is an investment in technology initiated in 2011 with a DVI lab management system installed in January, followed by Schneider digital equipment installed in February and MasterPiece HD free-form progressives installed in March 2011.

The investments came at a cost that Jackson described as “character building.”

“I attribute our success to the hard work and dedication on the entire management team. Six months of controlled dysfunction, and I would not recommend it to anyone,” he said.

Still, it has paid off; currently MasterPiece HD represents one third of total shipments and continues to be a strong revenue generator through 2012. First Look Optical is not resting on its laurels, as a new Satisloh AR coating system is being installed this month, and MEI edgers are coming early next year.

Increased automation has not reduced the workforce, but expanded it from 22 to 30 in response to increased orders. First Look plans to hire three more in early 2013.

The upside for customers is that First Look Optical now offers a wider range of products, including digitally designed lenses from Seiko and IOTA, with Definity, EDO and Shamir on the horizon.

“The new technology provides greater precision and efficiency,” Jackson noted. “We work closely with our suppliers to provide and materials and services that meet our customer’s needs and wants then deliver on them appropriately.”




LabTalk Spotlight

Improving Your Grades

By Judith Lee

First, the good news. Like students who choose to sit in the front row, your customers have been listening. Optical dispensers have noticed:

  • You’ve invested in digital technology
  • Your lab is turning out consistent quality lenses
  • Your staff is capable and productive with digital lens surfacing

But like all good students, your customers have a few things to teach the teacher. If they were grading your performance, they would give you an “A for effort” but something like a “B” for your overall grade. It’s not a bad grade, but probably not the very best you can do. This experienced group of dispensing opticians provide these simple suggestions to bring up your grade to a solid “A.”

#1 Base Curves Count More Than Ever
With the freedom that digital free-form lenses allow, it’s important for labs to realize that “close” is no longer close enough, says master optician Barry Santini of Long Island Opticians, Seaford, NY.

“As long as the requested base curve is available for the material/lens design chosen, no substitutions should be made by the lab,” Santini said. He explained that optical retailers are attempting, more than ever, to try to maintain authentic frame appearance and fit.

“When using the new free-form lenses, it is not uncommon for us to deviate from traditional ‘best form’ curves to more accurately mimic the way the frame templates fit the frame. By doing so, the frames keep their ‘off-the-shelf’ cosmetics and fitting quality,” Santini noted.

When the lab is exacting with order specifications, your customer is happier because his or her customer is happier.

“With closely frame-matched curves, customers no longer ask to see ‘the model they tried on.’ The finished Rx pair fits and looks just like the sample they tried on!” Santini said.

Find out six more suggestions from your customers by reading the entire article on the newly redesigned LabTalk website.



Make What You Say Pay

Persuade or Convince?


Marketing guru Seth Godin can generally be relied on for thoughtful observations that frequently apply to sales as well. Recently, he made a distinction worth noting for anyone who persuades for a living.

The distinction is between persuasion and convincing. “Persuasion appeals to the emotions and to fear and imagination. Convincing requires a spreadsheet or some other rational device…It’s much easier to persuade someone if they’re already convinced, if they already know the facts. But it’s impossible to change someone’s mind merely by convincing them of your point.”

How often do we see that in sales and presentations where the left brain facts are explained (sometimes ad nauseum), but the right brain emotions and imagination are not engaged? It’s the difference between presenting the nutritional and actuarial case for daily exercise and proper dieting and making the same case but concluding by asking the listener to imagine what it would feel like to get into that size eight dress for her upcoming 20th high school class reunion. The former might convince her of the wisdom of healthy living. The latter is much more likely to get her to act on that information.

Think about your presentations. Do they only convince or do they also persuade? Where would your information benefit from a persuasion make-over with more appeals to imagery and imagination?

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

 

NEW PRODUCTS

Hard Coat XT and Hard Coat HD


Manufacturer: Practical Systems Inc. (PSI)

Description: PSI is expanding its line of UV curable hard coats with the addition of a new extra tintable coating and an extra hard coating to their already successful PSI Hard Coat offering (part # 9000).

Features: The new PSI Hard Coat XT (part # 9000-XT) offers improved tinting, 10 percent darker, along with excellent scratch resistance with a Bayer rating of 1.52. The new PSI Hard Coat XH (part # 9000-XH) is an extra hard coating with a Bayer rating of >2.5. Both these coatings as well as the popular PSI Hard Coat have superior adhesion on all lens materials including 1.67 index lenses, according to PSI. They provide a hydrophobic coating on the lens to repel dust and water and are solvent free so there are no disposal, fire or shipping concerns. All three coatings are AR compatible and economically priced.

www.looktopsi.com; (800) 237-8154

 

Happy Lens


Manufacturer: Spy Optic

Description: The Spy Happy Lens is designed to “harmonize” with the body's physiological preference for a specific bandwidth in the visible light spectrum (450nm – 500nm) where 'uplifting' effects of blue (i.e. happy) light are most prevalent."

"Put simply, the innovative new Spy Happy Lens blocks the sun's harmful rays while letting in the good long-wave blue light that makes us happy,” said Jim Sepanek, Spy Optics’ vice president of optical. “This, coupled with an accurate, crisp, color contrast-enhancing lens and Trident polarization technology enables the Happy Lens to rival any top grade lens on the market. Spy is the first eyewear company to bring this patent-pending technology to the market, and we're very excited about sharing this with our customers starting February 1."

Features: Allows in long-wave blue light. Other lenses block out a majority of this range of “good” rays. Blocks and filters out “bad” rays, including 100 percent of UVA, B, C rays and more than 99 percent of the “bad” and glaring light. 15 percent visible light transmission with contrast enhancement—suitable for conditions ranging from bright sun to overcast settings. Trident Polarized with black mirror coating eliminates more than 99 percent of glare.

www.spyoptic.com; (800) 779-3937

 

Total Night


Manufacturer: Brain Power Inc. (BPI)

Description: BPI’s new tint blocks UVA and the harmful violet and blue recently implicated in macular degeneration.

Features: Total Night (Product # 37629) is yellow in color, allowing even more light transmission. It blocks much of the harmful violet/blue spectrum and is especially suitable for night driving as it blocks some of the bright violet and blue glare from oncoming HID headlights.

www.callbpi.com

 

E-Scoop Lenses


Distributor: Designs for Vision, Inc.

Description: E-Scoop glasses were developed to bridge the gap between standard eyeglasses and head-borne telescopes. Whether patients have difficulty with night driving, bright light, sunlight, or simply need to see clearly in the distance, the E-Scoop lens placed over a standard eyeglass prescription will help.

E-Scoop glasses were developed by Frans Oosterhof, a Dutch optometrist who won the Herman Wijffels Award in Holland. They are now available in the U.S. exclusively through Designs for Vision, Inc.

Features: The E-Scoop lens is comprised of five basic optical properties: custom yellow tint, anti-reflective coating, special lens thickness, base curve, and base up prism (4 base, 6 base, or 8 base). When these five optical properties are combined into the E-Scoop lens, the image is enhanced and shifted to a different part of the macula, allowing the patient to see better.

Mixing the patient’s prescription with the E-Scoop lens will dilute the five basic optical properties. For this reason, the plano E-Scoop lens is clipped in front of the patient’s regular spectacle prescription.

When ordering, ECPs must specify the patient’s prescription (Designs for Vision can supply plano, single vision, bifocal, trifocal, progressive), distance PD, and prism power of the E-Scoop. If incorporating a bifocal prescription, seg height and near PD are required.

Available in 4 Δ, 6 Δ, 8 Δ powers and in one size, 53-17-145. “B” (vertical) measurement is 34mm. “ED” (Effective Diameter or diagonal measurement) is 54mm.

designsforvision.com

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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 and Eye2
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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