DAC Vision
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers September 2009

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from DAC Vision

New Products
Make What You Say, Pay!

‘See’ What You’re Missing
By Anne Miller

Make What You Says, Pay!

As the pressure builds to develop business in a down economy, it is appropriate to briefly re-visit the lesson of the story of the blind men and the elephant. You’ll recall that three blind men stumble upon an elephant. Each blind man grabs onto a different part of the animal. The first man, feeling only the elephant's leg, declares the object they have come across to be a tree trunk. The second man, holding the elephant's tail, assures his friends they have found a snake. And the third man, touching the elephant's ear, announces that it is most certainly a fan. Since they do not have the benefit of vision, they cannot see the big picture—the whole animal—and, as a consequence, they draw the wrong conclusions.

Similarly, in a difficult market, sales pros often miss opportunities to build business that they would otherwise have, because they often lack a way to step back and see the big picture.

The following five-step exercise forces you to step back and see these opportunities in your business (allow two to three hours).

You can try this exercise by yourself or, even better, with your sales team. (Remember: Two heads are better than one.) Select a category of accounts (or a single account) whose business you want to grow or win (e.g., the hotel industry).

Hang four sheets of flip-chart paper around the room. On the first sheet, list all the things that are Going Well for that industry. On the second list all the Problems or Challenges that specific industry faces. On the third, list all the Trends that could affect this industry negatively or positively. On the fourth, list all your Assets, Capabilities & Resources. For example, flip-chart lists for the hotel industry might look like this:

- A lot of successful renovations
- Strengthening through consolidation
- Automated checkouts
- Improved gourmet dining

- Slowing economy
- Videoconferencing, which may reduce the need for businesspeople to visit clients in person
- Signs of overbuilding
- Adjusting to changing population demographics

- Computer tracking of guest needs and preferences
- Loyalty programs
- Growth in amenities (e.g., in-room Internet access & CD players, spas)
- Packages catering to families
- Suite versus single-room offerings

(e.g. if advertising)
- Publication
- Internet
- Relationship with readers, vendors & advertisers
- Past travel/hospitality articles
- Famous Editors
- Printing/publishing know-how

Brainstorm. For each item on the first list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do/combine that would add value to what is Going Well. (e.g., If you sell advertising space, can you offer an email marketing idea? Sweepstakes? sponsorships? Leverage databases?).

For each item on the second list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do/combine to help address each Challenge (e.g., an offline tie-in that drives users to an advertiser's site? A joint effort with another complementary advertiser, a give-away how-to booklet filled with past articles?)

And for each item on the third list, look at your asset list and write how many different things you can do to play off each Trend that is occurring in the industry (e.g., develop a new size/type ad? An in-room customized, travel CD? A tie-in to their loyalty program?)

Collect ALL the ideas that come up, whether they are practical or not. In true brainstorming fashion, build on one another's ideas, and don't immediately dismiss any. You will wind up with lots of ideas in a relatively short time.

Evaluate. Review the ideas that you like, those that fit, those that leverage your expertise and resources, and those that will have a high bottom-line payoff.

Implement. Decide who will do what and when.

Time Well Spent.
I have facilitated several meetings where this exercise was completed, and a lot of very good ideas came from them which were then implemented to bring in business. At a minimum, these ideas give you a good reason to see a client and bring him/her something new to think about, which helps build your relationship with that client. Sales reps raved about how much they enjoyed the session, how much they got out of it, and how important it was for them to step back periodically to view their accounts from a broader perspective.

An added bonus was how good, personally and professionally, it felt to give themselves the luxury of a relaxed and strategic ”group think.“

Does it cost you selling time to do this? Absolutely. But in today's competitive world, where you are only as good as your last idea, what's the cost of not doing this exercise on a regular basis?

Here's to successful selling!

©2009, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling," www.annemiller.com.

HR Corner

Preventing Age Bias
By Hedley Lawson

Preventing Age Bias

The recent Google age discrimination lawsuit serves as an important reminder for employers to take aggressive steps to prevent age bias in the workplace. Here are five tips you can use: Draft an effective Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and anti-harassment policy. This type of policy is the backbone of an effective bias-prevention program. Make sure the policy is strongly worded and makes clear that discrimination and harassment based on age and all other protected characteristics (sex, religion, disability, etc.) are illegal.

The policy should also describe what illegal conduct is, outline your complaint and investigation procedures, and state that discrimination and harassment will result in discipline up to and including termination.

Do not let your policy gather dust. Regularly distribute and communicate your policy to employees.

Train and retrain your employees. Conduct EEO and anti-harassment training for your entire work force, keeping records of who attends and the program content. It's best to have separate training for managers, because their responsibilities are more extensive.

Have applicants provide contact information for prior employers as well as personal references.

Avoid age-based comments. Caution all employees that written or spoken comments about an employee's age—even if seemingly made in jest—are inappropriate and potentially illegal.

Don't rely on stereotypes. It's a mistake to assume that older employees are less flexible or less willing to learn new skills, such as adapting to new computer systems or accepting a promotion that would require a lot of travel.

Hedley Lawson brings over 25 years of optical industry experience to JMI. For over 10 years, he has been a contributing editor to VM, most recently as writer of the monthly column “Business Essentials.” He is the Contributing Editor of VM's E-Newsletter Business Essentials.



The Risks and Rewards of Universal Vision Care

The Risks and Rewards of Universal Vision Care

Lab owners have cause for concern with the possibility of the government imposing universal healthcare. Most labs currently offer some form of health insurance to their employees, however, some do not. Proposals such as taxing businesses that do not provide health coverage or requiring businesses and individuals to have coverage would add another layer of costs to small businesses further limiting their ability to compete. These additional employment costs could cause small business to limit the number of employees because of increased costs. Furthermore, if universal coverage requires that even the unemployed be provided coverage, the government would no doubt need to raise taxes on businesses and individuals to cover the cost of that coverage exacerbating the tax problem.

Though this may seem a bleak prospect for most small businesses, there may be a silver lining for lab owners. With an estimated 40 million people that don’t have insurance benefits currently, this represents a huge potential for increased business volume for labs. Additionally, there are many health plans now that do not offer a vision benefit or workers who are not offered a separate vision benefit plan. If there is a requirement for universal coverage, shouldn’t that coverage also include vision services for every American? It’s clearly been shown that regular eye examinations are able to diagnose early symptoms of illnesses, and vision care is essential to overall health. Our industry needs to not only prepare for the increased cost of universal healthcare, but also the potential increase in business it may generate.

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Jason Meyer—Jason A. Meyer is senior vice president, 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 Meyer at [email protected].

DAC Vision

Edward Hawkins of Sunburst Optical

Edward Hawkins of Sunburst Optical

  Edward Hawkins

Founded in 1979 by Norman Perry and later sold in 2000 to Jeremy Gnade and Richard Sapia, Sunburst Optics continues to serve independent optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists throughout the Northeast U.S. Located in upstate Syracuse, N.Y., Sunburst is a leading supplier of lenses, specialty coatings, frames and other optical supplies from quality manufacturers.

Ed Hawkins, inventory manager, is responsible for regulating the flow of lenses entering and exiting the laboratory. Hawkins joined the Sunburst team in July of 1989, and recently celebrated his 20th anniversary with the team. Hawkins began in the mailroom at Sunburst Optics after responding to an article in the local paper for laboratory employment. “Within the first year, I knew I was in the right place. The right people saw my capabilities and helped me to capitalize on them,” said Hawkins. “I couldn’t get enough. I was always helping in customer service and anywhere that needed me. I had finally found my niche.”

Hawkins’ duties extend to ordering and receiving, stock replenishment, inventory management, lens verification for Rx orders and also maintaining the Optifacts database. “I enjoy not only coaching and teaching, but learning on a daily basis in a very cohesive environment,” said Hawkins. “We have a constant flow of new faces around here and I enjoy being able to train and share my knowledge.”

Upon his arrival at approximately 7:30 am, Hawkins begins organizing lenses on the shelves for Rx’s started the night before. Between 9 and 10 a.m., Hawkins receives and verifies new orders coming in. By noon, Hawkins is completing and sending his tock order, and once again before he leaves at 4 p.m. “I feel very fulfilled in my job...I can use my strengths in the optical business to take care of the customer,” said Hawkins.

Outside of his integral role at Sunburst, Hawkins spends a majority of his time outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, biking, or visiting the local farmer’s market, Hawkins can’t get enough fresh air. “I’m always moving and grooving,” said Hawkins. “I love what I do, even outside of the lab.”

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DAC Vision
Carl Zeiss Vision - Florida

Carl Zeiss Vision - Florida Begins Producing Zeiss Individual In-HouseCarl Zeiss Vision - Florida, formerly Tri-City Optical, has officially begun manufacturing Zeiss Individual and other customized lenses from Carl Zeiss Vision in its newly remodeled facility in Clearwater, Fla.

Carl Zeiss Vision acquired Tri-City in June 2008, in partnership with VSP Vision Care to enhance their Perfect Vision lab network. The acquisition kicked off an extensive retooling of the facility, including the installation of free-form generators, advanced Zeiss coating equipment, and robotic finishing equipment.

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Seiko Expands Partner Lab NetworkSeiko Optical Products is adding seven new partner labs to its network of manufacturing labs for the Seiko Succeed & Supercede free-form PAL products. The labs are Central Optical, Italee Optical, Luzerne Optical, MJ Optical, Rite-Style Optical, Rochester Optical and The Lens Work.

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Hoya Invests in Hartford LabHoya Vision Care, North America, has completed an expansion of its laboratory in Hartford, Conn. Enhancements include new digital surfacing equipment and a re-engineered layout and work flow. Hoya’s proprietary in-house anti-reflective coatings facility enables the lab to now provide Hoya’s Super HiVision. The 15,000 sq.-ft. lab has 70 employees and will process an average of 1,200 jobs per day.

Shown here inspecting the newly refurbished lab are Mike Dougher, Hoya regional vice president, left, and Karl Meyer, Hoya Hartford lab manager.

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Patricia Ruden of Expert Optics Dies at 71—Patricia S. Ruden of Expert Optics passed away in Naperville, Ill. on August 29 at age 71. Ruden (nee Scroggins) worked alongside her husband Don and her son Greg at Expert Optics in Shorewood, Ill. for over 25 years. She enjoyed attending many Global Optics events through the years and several OLA conventions as well.

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Shamir Autograph Freeform

Italee to Distribute Shamir Autograph Freeform LineShamir Insight, has added Italee Optics, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based wholesale lab and frame manufacturer, as its newest Shamir Autograph partner lab. Italee will distribute Shamir’s line of Autograph Freeform lens designs.

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DAC Vision

1.74 FSV Hydrophobic AR

1.74 FSV Hydrophobic AR

Manufacturer: Chemilens/UVCO
Description: Finished single-vision ultra high-index, aspherical AR lens with impact-resistant primer
Features/Functions: One of the thinnest and flattest lenses (in the same power) on the market. 1.1mm center thickness. Abbe value 32. Specific gravity 1.46. Includes multi-layered hydrophobic AR coating. 98.9 percent light transmittance with AR coating. Blocks 100 percent of UV up to 400 nm.
Availability: Extended Range
(212) 356-0010

Boxer Light

Boxer Light

Manufacturer: Leybold Optics USA
Description: Competitively priced, mid-size coating system
Features/Functions: Can handle up to about 130 pairs in an eight-hour shift. System can be up-graded at the customer’s site with a larger pump to reduce cycle time at any point in the future. Can be incorporated into the Leybold Optics Easy Lab for complete turnkey, state-of-the-art coating facility. Leybold’s EasyLab incorporates all equipment for a complete AR coating lab— inspection station, cleaning and hard coating line, and a quality control station—and needs no more than 480 sq. ft. of space for the entire operation. “Clean room” not required. System capable of producing premium AR coatings with regular and super hydrophobic coatings. SIZE: 2060mm high, 1690mm deep, 1610mm wide.
(919) 657-7100

Definity Fairway Transitions SOLFX Lenses

Definity Fairway Transitions SOLFX Lenses

Manufacturer: Essilor
Description: Progressive sun lens designed for presbyopic golfers. Features: Combines patented Dual Add 2.0 technology and Ground View Advantage of Definity lenses with advanced photochromic technology of Transitions SOLFX sun lenses to allow golfers to follow the ball more clearly. Lenses help enhance visual performance by intuitively adjusting to all outdoor sun conditions. They change from amber to a darker brown outdoors, improving contrast and depth perception to help golfers see the contour of the greens and better see the ball. Lenses also block 100 percent of harmful UV and UVB rays.
Availability: Material—Airwear polycarbonate; sphere : +4.00 to -7.00D; cylinder— up to -4.00D; add power: +1.00 to +3.00D; prism: up to 6.00D; systematic AR coating on Crizal Sun Mirrors with Scotchgard Protector (silver only); systematic Transitions treatment on Transitions SOLFX.
(800) THE-EYES



Manufacturer: National Optronics
Description: Versatile lens machining center
Features/Functions: Industrial edging center (auto-loading option available) designed for basic edging as well as complex processing. Five-axis technology enables extreme versatility through variable angle processing for all edging functions, including beveling and drilling. Ability to match nearly every frame or lens curve means expanded process capabilities and improved accuracy and quality. The milling and shelving that’s only available with five-axis technology allows processing of sport frames that are otherwise non-Rx-able. Adding automation with Helix Auto speeds up the workflow, increases productivity and eliminates need to sort work. Powerful with small footprint. On-board vacuum system. Competitively priced. Environmentally friendly dry-cut technology. Optional shape design software allows editing of existinig trace files or creation of new complex designs.
Range: Maximum lens blank size is 100mm (effective diameter). Minimum finishing B size is 18mm rimless; 20mm bevel. Size: 28 inches wide by 43 inches deep by 68 inches high Weight: 750 lbs.
New to the market is Shamir’s single-vision PolyPlus Transitions (gray/brown) offering.
(800) 247-9796


In This Edition...
The Risks and Rewards of Universal Vision Care
Edward Hawkins of Sunburst Optical

Carl Zeiss Vision - Florida Begins Producing Zeiss Individual In-House

Seiko Expands Partner Lab Network

Hoya Invests In Hartford Lab

Patricia Ruden of Expert Optics Dies at 71

Italee to Distribute Shamir Autograph Freeform Line

‘See’ What You’re Missing
Polish and Polishing
Preventing Age Bias

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DAC Vision
Tech Talk

Polish and Polishing

As in fining, are you using the right polish pad and polish chemistry for the materials you process? Here too, there have been significant advancements in polishing materials to help you achieve superior surface quality, which is especially critical with the growth of AR coatings.

In order to continue with excellent process control, the use of a central slurry system with chilling and filtering is critical. Not only will the lenses come out better for optics and cosmetics, it is possible to extend the normal polish life. Make sure to match the temperatures in polishing to your wet generating and fining areas. Six minutes is still the industry standard for all resin materials.

So how long will my polish last? There are some trusted “Rules of thumb” that are very good. On average, one gallon of polish will process approximately 350 to 400 lenses before it is spent. This number goes down with higher mixes of polycarbonate.

Be sure to monitor temperature and baume as this is a good indicator of the condition of your polish. Use a nylon mesh filter bag in the appropriate size rating for the type of polishing chemistry that you use. This is a must to remove lens swarf, pad nap and any other contaminants that may be introduced into the polish during the production day. Many labs try to run the polish longer than it is designed for resulting in poor optics and degraded surface quality.

In summary, it is critical to understand all of the interactions within the surfacing department. Checking these areas infrequently will likely create escalating breakage, rework and reject percentages. Check daily and check again. “ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH.”

LabTalk Spotlight
September 2009


Those Pesky Warranties
The old days—when manufacturers provided a no-questions-asked refund or replacement on virtually any lens—are fast receding in the rear-view mirror. Labs have become the default administrators of warranties, and many labs believe they’ve inherited the short end of the stick.

According to Steve Sutherlin, president of Sutherlin Optical Lab, the optical industry has somehow determined that the labs should bear most of the responsibility for the cost of warranty work. The manufacturers provide labs with an allowance that is intended to cover the cost of the materials but not the labor.

Generally, lens manufacturers give labs a small discount on their monthly invoices—typically in the 2 percent to 6 percent range, depending on how much business the individual lab does with the manufacturer—that is supposed to cover the cost of the lenses the lab takes back from ECPs under warranty.

Tom Schroeder, president of Schroeder Optical, explained the thinking behind the invoice credit system. “The labs no longer have to go through the trouble of sending back the lenses and waiting for the manufacturers to issue a credit,” he said. “Most manufacturers just give us the credit automatically on the monthly invoices.”

However, the labs are still responsible for the cost of surfacing and sometimes edging the replacement lenses. The discount is woefully inadequate and doesn’t even begin to compensate for the labor involved.

”I always equate lens warranties to the automotive industry. If your transmission went out on your new car while it was under warranty and the manufacturer sent the dealer a new transmission, would they expect the dealer to perform the labor for free?” Sutherlin asked. “That is exactly how our industry works, except we have to pay for a large portion of the cost of the transmission, too, plus all of the labor.”

In LabTalk's feature article, Those Pesky Warranties, find out how your peers are working with warranties and some are even turning warranties into a profit center! To read the entire article, log onto www.labtalkonline.com where you'll find the article listed under the Features section.