Optical Synergies
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers December 2007

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from Optical Synergies.

New Products
Tech Talk

Improving Your Drilling Technique for Rimless

Santinelli International

Lens curvature is certainly an important consideration when drilling lenses  for drilled rimless eyewear, as well as inclination angle of the mounting. Both are dependent on the type of mounting, which is where the variables come into play.

Specifically, frames mounted using pressure between two hardware surfaces should be drilled parallel to the finished edge, so the mounting can rest evenly along the entire contact area without creating a "hot" spot of contact in any particular area. That would ultimately effect the structure of the lens, not to mention possibly cause instability in the mounting. That in itself is not cut and dry, since most edger finishing wheels have a slight angle on them, which usually is insignificant unless the lenses are thick.

Other types of mountings such as bushing/pressure mounts should be drilled perpendicular to the tangent of the front curve to allow the mounting to
"rest" flat against the lens when assembled. Not only is this an important
structural benefit, but a cosmetic one as well. Nothing is more disconcerting (at least to me) than the mounting "lifting" away from the lens.

Another factor to consider is the inclination angle. This really only becomes a factor in top mounted rimless designs. Again, the same factors are true for aligning the hardware with the lens contact area. That introduces a whole new axis for the drilling concern (imagine that).

All of these issues ultimately affect the dispensers ability to properly adjust the eyewear to the client.

Now to address your final comment, most of this is up to the "call of the
operator," as you stated, since each and every job has its own peculiarities. Sometimes compromises in drilling angles have to be made between front and back curves. It would not be possible to simply say a lens has a 6 base, therefore you can dial that in on the drill and have at it, although that would probably accommodate a large percentage of the jobs.

Most "automatic" (edge/drill combo) drilling equipment drills parallel to the edge of the lens and don't offer the option of changing the angles. Some of the CNC equipment does offer some adjustment for base curve, but again is based on user fed information. Just because a lens has a 6.00D front curve, doesn't mean it should be drilled at that predetermined angle. For instance, if the hardware is back mounted, the inside curve would be more important than the front curve.

A final note on the nomenclature. By definition, the base curve is "the lowest curve on the toric surface." Although the industry commonly refers to the "front" curve as "base" curve, it is not truly an accurate statement.

Marketing Matters

PR Strategies for Optical Labs, Part 2

Working Lab

This is the second in a series of articles that explores how optical labs can improve their public relations techniques.

Mastering the Press Release Process
In order to put together an effective press release, you need to first know who to send it to. First, you need to select suitable publications. In the case of Jobson Medical Information, for example, you'd want to send a press release to Lab Advisor, Vision Monday, LabTalk and 20/20. Publications such as Vision Monday and 20/20 reach the audience you want to promote your businesses to—the dispenser community. They are your customers and/or potential customers. Lab Advisor and LabTalk reach optical labs, so they are appropriate for news you want to share with others in the lab community.

Once you've decided which publications you want to send your press release to, you need to have the exact name of the editor and/or reporter you should submit it to. Without that name, it may never reach the appropriate people. For example, Andrew Karp is the editorial contact for Lab Advisor, Vision Monday and 20/20. Christie Walker is the contact for LabTalk.

How you choose to submit the press release is up to you. You can mail it, fax it or email it; however, most editors prefer to receive press releases through email, since it is easier to edit electronic documents.

No matter what method you choose to use, you need to be sure you have accurate contact information—fax numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and titles. Although some companies will send press release to the publication's sales reps, it is always best to send information directly to editors and continue to copy friends within the company. Most of the time, we get the information, but not all of the time. Either way, if you don't know the editors and reporters covering the lab industry, you should get to know them. 

Content and Follow-Through
Once you know who to contact, the next step is knowing what to give them—and when. Different publications have different deadlines. Vision Monday, for instance, is a monthly newsmagazine. So if you want something to appear in a particular issue, you needed to send it to me at least a month in advance. You'll also want to call editors or reporters after you send the release to make sure they've received it and gauge their interest.

In terms of what to send remember the basic elements of a news story: who, what, why, where, when, and how. The same holds true for press releases and public relations. If you're letting us know about an Open House you had, for example, you should tell us when you had it (the specific date), what activities were part of the event, how many people showed up, whether it was the first time you've done it or it whether it was part of an annual event, etc. If you had support from any of your lens vendors you should mention that to (i.e., John Smith from ABC Lenses presented a seminar). Did you have seminars? Were they ABO approved? Did vendors have booths with products on display?

Don't forget to include your contact info, with a name and phone number, in case we have any questions. You'd be surprised how many people forget to do a simple thing like that. Yet it can be the difference between getting the press release published or not.

If we do have questions, and we call you, make sure you get back to us as soon as possible. Remember, editors are always working on deadlines. Otherwise, we may not run the item and you may lose a great PR opportunity.

Photos are always a plus. We may not use them, but we may, and that can give your news even greater exposure. Plus, if we ever want to do a feature on your business, the photos can be used at that time as well.

If you remember these key points, you'll be on your way to mastering press release process:

  • Select suitable publications
  • Include contact info.
  • Make sure the content is appropriate for the audience
  • Follow-through with your editorial contact.

Next Month: The PR Value of Web sites.



To Sell or Not to Sell?

saleOver the course of 2007 this series of articles have covered a range of topics. They started with how to measure your lab business, tied that measurement to acceptable levels of debt, and reviewed the taxation elements of this industry into a forecast of what to expect in the near term. These elements were then connected to long term planning, estate planning, and procedures as to how to utilize earnings as an analytical tool for measurement of short and long term productivity.

These suggested benchmarks, as well as internal and external procedures were then viewed in light of the consolidation and segmentation of the industry. Comparative analysis was recommended for independent labs respecting financial management, supplier contracts that have restrictive provisions, competitive practices between the supplier owned labs and the effect on "The Future of the Independent Lab."

The theme has been constant; if you are an independent you must be better than the competition, because you lack the capital, resources and related sales that they have. It is not enough to continue with business as usual. Therefore independents must develop the tools that will allow them to succeed in the current environment.

We are now experiencing, more, than at any time in the past, pressure on independent labs to consider the sale of all or a portion of their company. The capital gains tax, which is scheduled to go up, is at an all time low and the valuations due to a weak dollar and competing purchasers are at an all time high. This measure makes a prospective sale a current consideration by the vast majority of the independent lab owners. That said, the same considerations that owners should review in the operation and growth of their business must be part of the decision, and if they should so chose, the implementation of a sale or merger of their company.

No sale or merger should take place without first understanding the detailed procedures utilized in the valuation of the company through an analysis of the earnings, balance sheet, working capital, sales history, plant, operations and market position. This should then be tied to the structure of the transaction, income taxes, estate planning, effects on family members and employees and perhaps most important of all timing. When it comes to the all important decision of whether to sell or not sell a closely-held business timing and information are critical.

Tom PuckettThomas F. Puckett is managing director & CEO, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories.

ptical Synergies

Gerber Coburn

Solving a Prism Problem

RxFilesPress-on Fresnel prisms applied 20mm from the temporal edge of the eye wire of the frame had given a head injury patient satisfactory vision. The prisms were 8 base-in on the OD and 2 base-in on the OS. The patient wanted glasses with these prisms ground into the temporal sides only. (Fresnel press-ons are a great diagnostic tool, but are fuzzy to start with and degrade further over time).

The patient’s single-vision Rx was OD -.25-.50 x 105, OS Pl, mounted in a full metal frame measuring 54-18.

We recommended a vertical Franklin construction.This construction utilizes one lens on the nasal side and another lens, incorporating the prism, on the temporal side. The two lenses are spliced and then bonded at the "seam" with UV-cure optical adhesive to form the opticalsystem. After we discussed this construction with the dispenser, it came to light that the patient really wanted Transitions. This sent us back to the drawing board, because Transitions lenses are a UV inhibitor, so conventional UV-cure adhesives would not work with the Franklin construction.


Using a single-vision Transitions lens, we redesigned this system using single-vision slab-offs to obtain the prism. The lenses were then rotated 90º giving the desired effect of base-in prisms on the temporal side only. Note that the slab-off construction added thickness to the optical system.—Karen Keeney, president, Chadwick Optical, White River Junction, Vt.

Optical Synergies

Mike Earl of Harbor Optical

Mike Earl Mike Earl was hired by Harbor Optical in June 2007, as their first full-time sales representative. An independent wholesale optical laboratory, Harbor Optical is located in Traverse City, Michigan. Prior to Harbor Optical, Earl ran an optical shop and hearing aid clinic for a busy ophthalmology clinic for almost five years.  When the company first started in 1997, lab owner, Geff Heidbrink, was the only sales rep on the road. Earl commented, "I told Geff when he was ready to expand, to please keep me in mind." After two and a half years in business, Mike received a phone call.

At the time, as Harbor Optical’s only sales representative, Earl spent most of his time cold-calling and earning new business for the laboratory.  As his efforts began to blossom, Harbor Optical hired Phil Charlton and later Andrew Bangert for additional sales support in their market.  In May 2006, Earl was promoted to sales manager. 

"The leadership at Harbor provides employees with the ability to grow along with the company," Earl noted. "You’re never micromanaged and if you work hard, you’re rewarded. My goal for the future is to be as good of a leader for my team, as the owner has been to me." Harbor Optical strongly believes in the putting the customer first.  They pride themselves in their ability to differentiate themselves from their competition and to quickly change with industry demands. Earl attributes these strengths to their team approach.

"The lab and sales team communicate constantly," Earl noted. No less than once per month Earl commented they hold a team meeting that includes customer service personnel, the lab’s general manager and all sales representatives. "It keeps us all on the same page and everyone’s idea is always listened to," Earl commented. 

After his promotion to sales manager, Earl spends less time on the road and more time performing in-office training and working with their outside marketing company to create new programs and promotions. "Now that we have the tools in place which enable us to grow, we can spend more time focusing on maintaining that growth," Earl said. "I look forward to spending more time with our sales team and our accounts to help them focus on specific growth objectives."

Geff Heidbrink, owner of Harbor Optical, commented, "Mike is the consummate sales rep because he ‘gets it.’ He has very strong morals and a good value base." Heidbrink noted that Earl’s great ideas and ability to communicate them well as helped grow their business dramatically.

Optical Synergies

Using Web-based Resources—Are eyecare professionals becoming more tech-savvy? Judging from the results of a recent survey conducted by Transitions Optical, the answer is yes.

TOM Tool Screen Grab

The survey results indicate that ECP usage of the Transitions Online Marketing Tool (TOM), a Web-based resource through which ECPs can access a variety of marketing materials to help them promote Transitions lenses, is increasing significantly. TOM can be used to create and download print-ready documents such as in-office materials, postcards, newspaper advertisements and yellow pages ads.
Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Overall ECP usage of the Transitions TOM is up 333 percent from 2006 to 2007
  • Number of users who built ads in Q1 from ’06 to ’07 increased 131 percent
  • Number of ad templates created in Q1 from ’06-’07 increased 76 percent
  • Number of users placing print orders in Q1 from ’06 to ’07 increased 463 percent.

Although this is just one measure of how ECPs are becoming more tech-savvy, it’s worth noting, given the widespread popularity of Transitions lenses. As more ECPs are taking advantage of Web-based technology. Marketing managers at optical labs should consider adding new interactive features to their company’s Web sites that allow customers to order products, access services and share information.


New South Lab Named 2007 Hoya Lab of the Year—Hoya Vision Care has named New South Lab in Greenville, S.C., the 2007 Hoya Lab of the Year.

"We are pleased to recognize New South Lab for their longtime support of Hoya products and their commitment to the independent eye care professional," said Barney Dougher, president of Hoya Vision Care, North America. "We look forward to a continued partnership."

Mr. Kim Addresses Crowd

Dong K. Kim, pictured above, addressing the audience at CSC’s second annual OptiFair.

CSC Celebrates 40th Anniversary in StyleCSC Group gathered 750 customers, vendors, colleagues and friends at the Hilton-DoubleTree hotel here on December 1 for a grand celebration of its fortieth anniversary. The Watsonville, Califorina-based company, which operates one of the largest and most successful independent optical wholesale laboratories in the U.S., used the occasion of its second annual OptiFair to thank supporters and honor CSC founder, president and CEO Dong K. Kim and his associates.

The event included a reception, vendors’ exhibition, formal dinner, a award presentations and entertainment provides by a live Las Vegas-style revue band.

Nexus Vision Moves HW to New Facility in Optical Village— Nexus Vision recently moved its headquarters to a 7,500-sq-ft. facility in Grove City, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Located in the Optical Village zone, the new laboratory is located near the DHL shipping hub to provide its customers next-day shipping in most cases.

Mr. Kim Addresses Crowd

A lab technician prepares lenses for anti-reflective coating at Nexus Vision’s new 7,500-sq.-ft. facility in the Optical Village.

The organization, comprised of independent laboratories primarily located in the Southeast, will continue their commitment to the growth of AR lenses through proprietary products NVision Plus featuring an oleophobic topcoat and NVision which has a hydrophobic topcoat, the company said.

"Due to continued growth since our grand opening in 2004, we identified the need to expand our facility and services. We are excited to be settled in our new facility which allows us to have a state of the art anti-reflective coating laboratory. It also provides an opportunity for Nexus Vision to further expand its operations to fulfill requests by our customers for additional products and services," stated Gerry Shaw, general manager/managing partner of the group.

ELOA Acquires Three U.S. Labs—Essilor of America has acquired the assets of Premier Optics, Inc. and Gold Optical Enterprises, Inc., two prescription laboratories located, respectively, in Belmont and Fayetteville, North Carolina. Essilor has also acquired GK Optical, which operates laboratories in Greenwood and Fort Wayne, Indiana. The three companies’ combined full-year revenue totals $8.5 million, according to Essilor.

VisionWeb Honors 2007 Labs of the Year—Each year, VisionWeb honors optical laboratories that have shown exemplary results growing and maintaining customer loyalty using VisionWeb. This year’s honorees are Aearo Technologies, Chickasha, Okla.; Southern Optical, Greensboro, N.C.; and Duffens/Langley Optical, Lenexa, Kan. These optical laboratories are among the top 30 labs receiving electronic orders through VisionWeb’s online ordering service.

To determine the honorees, VisionWeb measured each lab’s ability to convert their customers’ orders from the phone, fax or other methods, and to retain and grow their customers’ VisionWeb usage. Votes received from VisionWeb members were also incorporated into the final calculations.

In other VisionWeb news, the company announced the addition of new functionality enabling optical labs using Optifacts software to electronically submit and route orders to any lab using any VisionWeb-connected lab management software system. Previously, VisionWeb’s Open Network Exchange (O.N.E.) functionality enabled labs using Optifacts to receive inbound orders only, from eyecare providers and labs using other VisionWeb-connected lab management systems. Now with the new functionality, labs can send outbound orders electronically through VisionWeb O.N.E. to labs using any lab management system connected with VisionWeb.

Davis Team
Rips, Wanamaker

Davis Celebrates Opening of Las Vegas LabDavis Vision celebrated the opening of its new optical laboratory in Las Vegas with a gala reception in September just prior to International Vision Expo West. The 10,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art facility includes the latest cut-to-polish equipment. Members of the Davis lab team, pictured at right, were on hand to greet attendees, including many leading vendors.

Among those who joined in the fun were, from left to right, David Rips, Younger Optics, Shirley Wanamaker, Davis Vision, and Sid Sidhu, Younger Optics.

Gerber Coburn CLE100

Gerber Coburn CLE100
Manufacturer/Distributor: Gerber Coburn
Description: Compact lab edger for medium-volume production environments      

Features/Functions: Edges all lens materials including standard plastic/polycarbonate, high-index, Trivex and glass. Heavy-duty components, including reproducer and power module, transfer pins, and bushing and coupling assembly, make edger suitable for harsher laboratory environments. Metal cabinet provides maximum protection against rust and chemical corrosion.

Edges, polishes, grooves, and incorporates automatic safety or pin beveling for all lens sizes down to 18mm for small frames. Patented grooving design allows edger to precisely locate grooves on very thin lenses. Three groove widths and depths ensure optimal fit. Unit works directly with laboratory host computers via OMA communication protocol. Automatic maintenance functions including wheel cleaning, self-calibration, and a statistics and technical log, which enable operator to easily perform routine maintenance without technical assistance.
(800) 843-1479

Hoyalux Summit ecp Polycarbonate

Hoyalux Summit ecp Polycarbonate
Manufacturer/Distributor: Hoya Vision Care, North America
Description: Hoya's patented Summit ITC technology utilizes a 3D computer model that evaluates multiple visual criteria to deliver the clearest, most comfortable vision available through traditional surfacing technology.

Features/Functions: ITC technology brings three major advancements: In-wear design and customization. ITC adjusts for variances between pantoscopic angle, viewing angle, frame wrap and vertex distance; variable inset of the near and intermediate viewing zones to optimize the wearer’s field of view; design symmetry and comfort. Patients enjoy such benefits as wide viewing zones at all distances, smooth transitions and perfectly balanced vision, ease of adaptation, reducing eyestrain and fatigue and a choice of lens designs for greater frame selection

Summit ecp also is available in 1.50 standard plastic, 1.50 polarized, 1.50 Transitions Phoenix, Phoenix Transitions, 1.60 Eyas, 1.67 Eynoa, 1.67 Eynoa Transitions, 1.70 Eyry.
(972) 241-4141

PSI 993 System

PSI 993 System with Hurricane Filter
Manufacturer/Distributor: Practical Systems Inc. (PSI)
Description: Recycling and filtration for fining water and coolant 

Features/Functions: Two-tank system provides area for settling to occur before fluid is sent through single "jumbo" hurricane filter, which acts as a separator and filter all in one to extend the filter’s life. Deep angled pleats are directed toward rotational flow for increase dirt holding capacity. Single-cartridge filter simplifies maintenance. The 993 System can save lab thousands of gallons of water or coolant a day and can pay for itself in a very short time, according to PSI.
(800) 237-8154

SecurEdge Plus

SecurEdge Plus
Manufacturer/Distributor: Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics
Description: New generation blocking pad designed specifically to bond to low surface energy hydrophobic coatings.

Features/Functions: Based on the proven design of the Saint-Gobain’s SecurEdge technology, SecurEdge Plus improves on this with the incorporation of a high performance adhesive system engineered specifically to perform on the latest generation lens coatings. Good quick stick, outstanding shear performance and easy release make this the ideal product for single-step edging, according to Saint-Gobain. SecurEdge and SecurEdge Plus are available in a wide range of die cut shapes through Saint-Gobain’s network for authorized converters/distributors.
(800) 724-0883

Lens Engravers

Lens Engravers
Manufacturer/Distributor: Satisloh
Description: Lens engraving solutions for low- and high-volume labs

Features/Functions: Satisloh now offers two engraving solutions: an optional integrated engraving tool on its VFT Generators and the new laser-powered Lens-Engraver-LC. The optional VFT engraving tool is an economical solution for lower volume All-Format production. The Lens-Engraver-LC is for higher volume All-Format production labs that want to maximize their All-Format generators’ output. VFT Generators upgraded with the engraving tool (by a Satisloh field service engineer) can then engrave semi-visible markings on All-Format lenses. The stand-alone Lens-Engraver-LC is available in either automated or manual operating mode and engraves characters, logos, and geometrical shapes on all organic lens materials (convex and concave).
(800) 866-5640

Calvin MirrorKit

Mirror Kits
Manufacturer/Distributor: Visionetic
Description: Four-place and nine-place mirror kits

Features/Functions: Visionetic’s mirror coatings are created from advanced thin film applications, according to Calvin Howell, sales and marketing director for the lab, who is pictured at left. Mirrors are applied under strict vacuum chamber conditions and are coated utilizing a special control program that ensures color consistency. Mirror coating operation features a variety of colors and intensity, from flash to standard to high-reflective. All mirrors come standard with hydrophobic overcoats to seal in mirror treatment.
(407) 852-9598

In This Edition...
To Sell or Not to Sell?
Solving a Prism Problem
Mike Earl of Harbor Optical
Using Web-based Resources

New South Lab Named 2007 Hoya Lab of the Year

CSC Celebrates 40th Anniversary in Style

Nexus Vision Moves HW to New Facility in Optical Village

ELOA Acquires Three U.S. Labs

VisionWeb Honors 2007 Labs of the Year

Improving Your Drilling Technique for Rimless
Mastering the Press Release Process

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Optical Synergies
LabTalk Spotlight December 2007

In the November/December issue of LabTalk, you'll find Part I of Juggling Your Inventory Resources by Rick Tinson of Hoya. Learn how to save sizable amounts of money through efficient management of your lens inventory. Check out this excerpt:

"The continuing proliferation of new lens designs and materials means that wholesale labs must make some hard choices about their on-hand inventory. Without adequate controls, the cost of lens inventory on the shelf could spiral upward, and rising freight charges could eat at your margins from another direction.

The word inventory means, "list of what is found." In a modern business perspective, we'd like to minimize the surprise element of found as much as possible. Today, there is a lot more to be found than ever before. Opticom has over 300,000 lens SKUs in its database. Hoya alone has over 15,000 SKUs in our warehouse. Although labs have long ago found ways to maximize their purchasing power in terms of cost, there may be other sizable savings available through tight management of inventory resources."

To read the entire article, "Juggling Your Inventory Resources, Part I" log onto www.labtalkonline.com   Here you will find the article listed in the Archives under Lab Operations. Part II of Juggling Your Inventory Resources will be available in January 2008 under the Features section.

Buying Group & Lab Association News

OLA Hall of Fame
OLA Hall of Frame honorees (l to r) Ginny Hollins, daughter of Bill A. West (honored posthumously), David A. Beach, James P. Dougher, John L. Enright, Ronald Ray Steffey, Amos "Tex" Williams and Joan West, wife of Bill A. West.

OLA Inducts Seven Into Hall of Fame—The Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) inducted seven industry veterans into its Hall of Fame during its annual meeting, held last month in Indianapolis. The 2007 Hall of Fame Honorees are David A. Beach, James P. Dougher, John L. Enright, Ronald Roy Steffey, Amos "Tex" Williams and Billy A. West (posthumously). They were recognized for their contributions and years of service to the optical industry at the eighth annual OLA Hall of Fame Banquet on November 15.

OSI Party

OLA Panel ‘Demystifies’ Digital Surfacing—At the annual Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) meeting last month in Indianapolis, a panel of lab executives discussed the challenges of marketing new digital surfacing technologies to eyecare professionals. The event, billed as "Demystifying Digital Surfacing," was moderated by Andrew Karp, group editor, lenses and technology for Vision Monday, Lab Advisor and 20/20 magazine. The panel, pictured here, consisted of, l to r, Jim Evans, NEA Optical; Ed de Rojas, Quest Optical; Michael Walach, Quest Optical Lab; Andrew Karp; Scott Pearl, Digital Eye Lab, Warren Meyer, Perfect Optics and Bob Pech, Pech Optical.

MOLA Sets Dates for Spring Conference—The Midwest Optical Laboratories Association has scheduled its Spring Conference for May 8 and 9, 2008 at the Adams Point Conference Center in Blue Springs, Mo. According to MOLA officials, the meeting will have "a new look and a new, improved program." However, the meeting will still kick-off Friday morning with a golf tournament.

For registration information call Carol Michael at (785) 234-0456.