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

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from Gerber Coburn

New Products
Tech Talk

Tinting Tips

Tinting in and of itself is a simple process. Yet, not following simple protocols can lead to pitfalls. Here are some simple tips to help avoid problems:

Tip #1—Clean the lens, using 91 percent alcohol (i.e., rubbing alcohol)

Tip #2—Edge the lens first so gradients are aligned properly and the tint doesn’t interfere with the final laying out of the lens.

Tip #3—To check the “accuracy” of the tint, use a light box or compare the recently tinted lens to a sample lens of the same color.

Tip #4—Check with both your tinting unit and tint manufacturers for recommended temperatures for tinting. Verify the tint temperature several times a day, especially before tinting a lens. Note that if the lab’s heat or air conditioning isn’t properly set, it can affect the temperature of the dye.

Tip #5—Turn on the tinting unit first thing in the morning when the lab opens for the day. It takes about an hour for most systems to reach optimum temperature.

Tip #6—Let the water used to mix the dye stand, uncovered, for 24 hours. This will allow fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals used to treat tap water to evaporate. These chemicals can affect how the dye dissolves.

Tip #7—Change dyes weekly, if not more frequently. If the colors aren’t as true, or if the process is taking longer than usual, it’s time to change the dyes.

IT Zone

Win Big With Optifacts at Vision Expo East

Optifacts is offering cash prizes and show discounts at International Vision Expo East (New York City, March 23-25) to help promote its “Small Labs Breathe Easier” campaign for Optifacts O2, its new Web-enabled laboratory software for integrated retail and small wholesale labs. Qualifying ECPs and lab professionals who participate in a three-minute software tour of Optifacts O2 will be eligible to win a daily prize drawing for a $100 American Express Gift Card. Additionally, Optifacts is offering one-day free onsite installation and training plus a $250 service voucher with any new Optifacts O2 purchase made during Expo.


DVI, Opticom Partner on Internet Lens Order System

Lab management software provider Digital Vision, Inc. (DVI), with its Vision system, has partnered with Opticom to develop a sophisticated Internet-based lens purchase order system. For several years, Vision’s interface with Opticom has allowed labs to place lens orders to virtually all of the lens manufacturers with a single Internet transmission.

Augmenting that service is the recent interface to Opticom’s Shipment Notification Program and their Electronic Packing List.

With this interface, a lab is no longer required to scan each lens to verify the lens PO and add it to inventory. Now, the lab simply accesses the Electronic Packing List on Opticom’s Web site and electronically “receives” it. The Vision system then verifies the PO and reports on any backorders or items shipped incorrectly.

DVI’s interface with Opticom also allows the lab to check a PO, confirm its shipment, and get a “heads up” on any backorder items.  The costs on the PO are also provided, and can be automatically verified by the Vision system.
Don Rahn, president of Opticom, worked closely with DVI, the Global Group, and most recently X-Cel Optical, to put together this interface. Rahn encourages other lens suppliers to participate in the process.

Taxes,The Hidden Time BombPart One

Most optical laboratory owners are not doing all that they can to mitigate current and future tax liability for federal and state income tax, gains generated on the sale of their business and estate and inheritance taxes.

The fees spent with a qualified Certified Public Accountant or tax attorney are a solid investment. Begin by looking at your tax review in three distinctly different phases. First, is the business properly following GAAP in order to maximize current deductions, minimize current income classification and properly represent taxable earnings. Lab owners may wish to review all aspects of the business from the tax effect of capital expenditures to how they receive compensation from the business. For example, the use of distributions under a Sub Chapter S Corporation, or Limited Liability Company, subsequent to a reasonable salary, may not be subject to payroll burden. Accordingly, how and to whom the compensation or distribution is made may significantly adjust payroll costs, retirement account qualifications and tax free distributions.

Second, review the type of entity that owns the laboratory business. Many labs are still owned under a C Corporation. A conversion out of this status to an S Corporation or a Limited Liability Company, is in most cases solid tax planning. As a C Corporation, the business operates for tax purposes independent of its shareholders. The income or loss stays in the corporation and the entity is the taxpayer. This structure works well for the industry in that most income is reinvested in a lab business, due in large part to the capital intensive nature of the business. However, it limits distributions to shareholders and generally increases payroll burden.  Further, sale proceeds of an asset sale, subsequent to the repeal of the General Utilities Doctrine in 1986, are taxed at both the corporate and shareholder levels. This can be avoided by structuring a transaction as a stock sale, however, many purchasers are unable or unwilling to purchase stock in a closely held business.

Finally, review your goals as to a succession or sale plan and tie it to solid tax planning. Next month’s Dollars & Sense will address the analysis that lab owners may wish to review respecting estate planning, family transfers and the changing tax climate. Federal estate taxes, capital gains and ordinary income tax rates are all on the move and lab owners need to be abreast of the changes and plan accordingly.

Thomas F. Puckett is managing director and CEO of the San Diego based investment banking firm HPC Puckett & Company, which specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories. Puckett can be reached via email at [email protected]. For more information about the company, go to their Web site at

Gerber Coburn

The Bevel's in the Details

The SEE 2606 is a private- label frame distributed by the Michigan-based SEE optical retail chain.

Toledo Optical was recently presented with a difficult Rx in which a creative solution was needed. A customer sent in an Rx with a frame that their patient had purchased out of state. The frame, a SEE 2606 (pictured here), is a full zyl frame, very flexible in nature. The top nasal and bottom of each eye wire was a standard bevel. The temporal edge of each eye was a grooved rimless. The demo lens was obviously thin and grooved all around. The mounting of this Rx was made all the more difficult by the fact that Toledo was given a high minus (-5.00D) to mount in this frame.

“We first contacted our customer to discuss the challenges, limitations and potential pitfalls,” said Toledo Optical’s Jeff Szymanski. “After running several sample lenses with different mounting configurations, our experimentation showed that the best fit would be obtained by putting a regular bevel all around the lens, flattening out the temporal portion and applying a groove by hand on the temporal side to insure the best fit possible. Furthermore, we recommended and manufactured a 1.67 which would not only enhance the Rx cosmetically, but would add stability to the unique nature of this frame.”

Gerber Coburn

Craig Thomas of Legends 4.0 Optical Laboratory

After 17 years in the optical lab business, Craig Thomas has experienced every job in an optical lab. “I started in the surface department at Benedict Optical and worked through every department in the whole lab,” explained Thomas. Today, he oversees the surfacing, finishing and shipping operations as well as the AR coating department at the most recent Benedict family laboratory, Legends 4.0 in Lewisville, Texas.

“I’ve enjoyed the optical industry because you never stop learning,” Thomas added. “There is always something new!” Thomas was just 20 years old when his grandfather encouraged him to join the family business. And something new has been fun for him—new laboratories; new ideas; new equipment; new materials and learning from Bill Benedict, his grandfather. With his lineage, he just might have optical blood running through his veins.

Thomas applies his own desire to understand and learn his management style. “I like to make sure that everyone understands how their work affects the total quality. The person operating the tracer needs to understand how that tracing data will be used and can cause a reject or a great fitting lens as well as the cost of a reject.”  He believes their quality standards are maintained because his team understands how their work affects the lenses and the customers’ satisfaction.

With a Texas location, Thomas also faces language barriers that must be overcome with new employees that do not have experience. Keeping systems simple help him in training and in managing employees. “Using color coded job trays to indicate the day the job arrived in the lab keeps the job visible and on time,” he explained. “Odd jobs, questionable jobs or those that will take longer than the expected turnaround time are flagged, customers contacted and information shared, before the job gets to the surface room.”
Even with optical blood, Thomas faces the same challenges that all lab managers do; ensuring consistent product quality and turnaround service, and keeping customers happy and loyal. “Five or 10 years ago, customers could live with a week or 10-day turnaround for AR coating,” said Thomas. “With the technology advances and in-house equipment, we can do this in four days and our customers expect it.”

--Linda Little , contributing editor

Linda Little is an optical industry veteran and writer who specializes in laboratory and technical topics. She can be reached at 214-215-5453, or at [email protected].


Gerber Coburn

RSO Mints 'Fun Money'

Rite-Style Optical Co. is running its own “mint” now, and has printed special currency—RSO Fun Money. These bills, adapted from a scan of an actual $10 bill and featuring the face of George Lee, RSO’s founder and CEO, have quickly become the reward of choice for many of Rite-Style’s internal and vendor-sponsored promotions.

“The concept behind RSO Fun Money is for doctors and/or owners to recognize and reward hard working employees above and beyond their regular compensation,” said Mike Sutton, vice president of sales and marketing at the Omaha Lab. “In short, this means stepping outside the box, being creative and having fun!”

Within the categories of “Entertain”, “Appreciate” or “Educate”, Rite-Style customers have been enjoying things like special lunches or dinners; pampering at a spa or salon; trips to events like Vision Expo or state association meetings; appreciation gifts and gift cards; or incentive rewards for special sales campaigns. One of the more fun ideas came from a group of small town Midwestern opticians who went on an overnight “ladies night out” holiday shopping trip to a nearby city, and used RSO Fun Money to pay for their trip.

Of course, this currency doesn’t quite fly at Applebee’s or Macy’s, but it’s easy to redeem. Rite-Style customers simply save their receipts from activities or purchases, send them in with equal amounts of RSO Fun Money, and receive back “real” checks.

“Rite-Style often receives calls from ECPs asking, ‘What do I need to do to earn more RSO Fun Money?’ said Sutton. “That’s music to the ears of any company.”

Needless to say, RSO Fun Money will be circulating around the optical world well into the future.


ELOA Opens Crizal Center at Crown Optical—Essilor Laboratories of America recently opened a Crizal Alizé/TD2 technology center at Crown Optical in Greenville, R.I. The center is one of New England’s largest capacity anti-reflective lens coating facilities and offers the most technologically advanced products and services, according to Essilor.
Crizal anti-reflective coatings from Essilor reduce glare and protect lenses from scratches, smudges, dust and dirt. Four products make up the Crizal family: Crizal, Crizal Alizé, Crizal Alizé with Clear Guard and Crizal Sun lenses.
A Crown lab technician, pictured here, working at an inspection station in the new AR facility.


Essilor Hosts Super Bowl Promo Winners—While millions of Americans were gathered in front of their television sets watching the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in the big game on Feb. 4, a few lucky labs from Essilor’s Independent Distribution Division (IDD) were watching from the stands in Miami. Essilor of America, Inc. (EOA) offered trips for two to the big game for top labs with the highest total Varilux Physio lens sales growth.
EOA hosted their “Go for the Goal Line” promotion from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2006 to encourage IDD labs to increase their penetration of Varilux Physio 360º and Varilux Physio products. Varilux lab distributor's sales teams received new Varilux materials and monthly promotional items throughout the program to keep the momentum going. EOA also offered distributors Essilor’s highest level of product training, Advantage Learning Varilux Physio courses. 
Winners received roundtrip air fare, four-night accommodations in Miami, a visit to the NFL Experience (pro football’s interactive theme park) and tickets to the big game. Winning labs included Soderberg, Italee Optical, Safe Lite, Walman Optical, Interstate Optical, Balester Optical, Deschutes Optical, Davis Vision, Pinnacle Optical, Conejo Valley Optical, Continental Sales and Ultimate Optical.

Jerry Hayes, OD

Hayes Forms ‘Lab First’ Buying Group for ECPs—A new “lab first” purchasing group has been launched by Jerry Hayes, OD, founder of HMI Buying Group. The group, Red Tray Optical is based in Vicksburg, Miss. Red Tray offers its members the “maximum published discount” from a select group of well-known frame suppliers and optical labs. Among the wholesale labs participating in Red Tray are Eye-Kraft, Icare Labs, Interstate Optical, Luzerne Optical, Pech Optical, Rite-Style Optical, Robertson Optical and Sutherlin Optical.
There is no cost to join Red Tray Optical and HMI Buying Group members in good standing are pre-approved for membership. Additional information is available from the company’s Web site,


Jim’s Optical Service Adds AR Facility—Jim’s Optical Service, a family-owned and operated lab in Modesto, Calif., has added an AR coating facility. The facility is equipped with a Satisloh Sputter Coater (SP-200) flip system. The versatile unit can produce both Clear Choice and Clear Choice Plus, providing customers a premium and more durable AR coating along with a hydrophobic coating for easier cleaning. Clear Choice and Clear Choice Plus will be available in three colors, blue, green and gold. The Sputter Coater has multiple processing possibilities such as standard and multi-color mirror coating for future expansion processing capabilities.

Sid Moore Scott Peterson

Moore, Peterson Join Expert Optics Sales Team—Expert Optics, an independent wholesale lab based in Shorewood, Ill., has added two optical industry sales veterans to its sales team. Sid Moore has been appointed director of sales. He brings with him over 30 years of experience in management and sales with frame and lens manufacturers. Moore has worked for Martin Copeland, Rodenstock USA and, most recently, Vision-Ease, where he served as sales manager.
Scott Peterson joins Expert Optics as senior account executive. He is responsible for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Peterson began his optical career by working in a lab learning all phases of production. He then continued in sales with lens manufacturers American Optical, SOLA and, most recently, Indo Lens.

Opticote Mini Mirror Display

Mirror lens specialist Opticote now offers a small point-of-purchase display so dispensers can showcase Opticote’s most popular mirrors. The display, which holds 12 lenses, stands 12” high and has a 5” base. The unit is priced at $40; Opticote provides a voucher worth $18, lowering the net cost to $22.


OptiSource 9-Pan Tinting System

The newly designed OptiSource 9-Pan Tinting unit from OptiSource is a superior system that is guaranteed leak-proof and can use either water or HTF. The heating element is constructed of the highest-grade alloy and is uniquely mounted above the fluid line, so there is no possibility of leaks. The unit also has the advantage of being made with a minimal number of parts and requires no on/off switch, which means that there is virtually no downtime due to repair. The OptiSource unit is covered by a 10-year warranty that covers both leaks and the heating element.

The 9-Pan Tinting System heats up fast and keeps temperatures consistent to within one degree throughout all nine chambers, according to OptiSource. This provides optimum conditions for faster tinting and darker colors. The system uses water as the heating medium instead of costly, messy heat transfer fluid (HTF), eliminating odor, cost and storage of HTF.

OptiSource also offers a 6-pan tint unit and the “Mini-Me,” a direct-heat 2-pan or 4-pan tinter that requires no HTF or water.


Specialty Lens iRx Short

Specialty Lens is adding a new short-corridor polarized progressive lens to its iRx Polaroid product line. The new “iRx Short” is a true short-corridor lens design, offering a 14mm fitting height for small sunwear frames. In addition to the benefits of polarization, this Essilor lens design provides a “soft” progressive design making it an easy adapt for presbyopes.

iRx Short is available in 12 colors and in both 1.56-index plastic and polycarbonate, allowing the ECP to recommend a specific lens that best meets each patient’s needs for fashion, optics, performance, comfort or safety.

iRx Short can fill prescriptions ranging from -10.00D to +6.00. Specialty Lens has Smoke (Gray-C) and Chocolate (Brown-C) in stock.


Younger Optics Drivewear Image

Younger Optics is expanding the availability of its new line of Drivewear lenses with the addition of Image progressives.

The Image progressive has been rated favorably among recent independent studies. Due in part because Image offers one of the widest distortion-free distance zones in the industry, a key advantage for the driving task. From the dashboard to the road ahead, Image provides clear viewing at near, far and intermediate distances, according to Younger. The lens can accommodate Rx ranges of -8.00 to +6.00D, with 1.00 – 3.00 add powers.

Drivewear lenses combine Transitions photochromic technology and Younger’s NuPolar polarization. Designed specifically to meet the unique visual demands of the driving task, Drivewear is the first polarized photochromic lens to darken behind the windshield of a car which allows Drivewear lenses to change color based on current driving conditions in order to enhance the driver’s vision. In addition, Drivewear lenses are polarized to block blinding glare, another essential attribute when driving a car.


X-Cel Optical FreedomID

X-Cel Optical is launching FreedomID, a progressive lens designed to meet both the occupational and recreation needs of active presbyopes. FreedomID (Integrated Design) features a 17mm fitting height for small to medium contemporary frames, and uncommonly wider distance and near vision zones with the least amount of unwanted cylinder.
FreedomID comes in several specialized lens materials, including Aris, Trivex and Transitions lenses; clear and photochromic glass lenses; polarized poly lenses and polarized glass lenses. These lenses deliver superior optics, superior impact resistance, superior scratch resistance, durability in drill mount frames, light weight, the best photochromic and polarizing technology—all highly desirable lens features for daily, active-adult lifestyle activities.

X-Cel is partnering with a limited number of select independent wholesale labs to introduce FreedomID to eyecare professionals. However, X-Cel reports that the product is now available on order from most U.S. prescription laboratories.

In this edition...
Taxes,The Hidden Time Bomb—Part One
The Bevel's in the Details
Craig Thomas of Legends 4.0 Optical Laboratory
RSO Mints 'Fun Money'
ELOA Opens Crizal Center at Crown Optical

Essilor Hosts Super Bowl Promo Winners

Hayes Forms 'Lab First' Buying Group for ECPs

Jim's Optical Service Adds AR Facility

Moore, Peterson Join Expert Optics Sales Team
Tinting Tips
Win Big with Optifacts at Vision Expo East

DVI, Opticom Partner on Internet Lens Order System
Technology, Finance to Top COLA Spring Agenda

Optical Resources Draws 100+ to Phoenix Meeting

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Gerber Coburn
Buying Group & Lab Association Update

Technology, Finance to Top COLA Spring Agenda

The California Optical Laboratories Association (COLA) ( is hosting its annual spring meeting April 19 and 20 at the Temecula Creek Inn in Temecula, Calif. The opening day’s agenda includes a golf tournament and a dinner honoring Mike Francesconi, who will receive the 2007 Good Fellow award. On the second day, Ed Dietz III, president-elect of the Optical Laboratories Association, will address the group. Kevin Paddy, manager, finishing products, Satisloh, Lisa Smith, national sales manager, National Optronics and Steve Swalgen, national director, lab business, Santinelli International will discuss the latest finishing technology; Tom Puckett, managing director and CEO, HPC Puckett and Co. and Lab Advisor “Dollars & Sense” columnist, will talk about valuation procedures and financial planning for optical labs. Jeff DeRose, manager ophthalmic services, Vision Service Plan, will also make a presentation.
For additional information, contact COLA executive director Terry Yoneda at [email protected] or (626) 675-4651.

Optical Resources Draws 100+ to Phoenix Meeting

Optical Resources ( recently hosted its 12th annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. Over 100 attendees participated, including representatives from 30 member labs, according to Josh Halstead, co-general manager of the purchasing group. Optical Resources members met one-on-one with suppliers, networked with peers and enjoyed entertainment during the three-day event.
Pictured at the Optical Resources meeting are Ron Kroll, left and Dave Reed of Signet Armorlite, which helped sponsor the cocktail awards ceremony.
In other news, Optical Resources has added three new companies to its roster of suppliers: Vision Dynamics, Corporate Express and Optifacts.