Lab Advisor

February 2010

Dollars and Sense

Uncertainty Continues For Taxes In 2011

The tax cuts enacted by President Bush require Congress and the Administration to renew them or they will expire after December 31, 2010. The current Administration has proposed a budget that will allow these cuts to not only expire but be increased. Long-term capital gains taxes for single individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000 will, at a minimum, increase from 15 percent to 20 percent. The top two ordinary income tax brackets will increase from 33 percent and 35 percent, to 36 percent and 39.6 percent respectively. For those earning under the $200,000 individually or $250,000 together, the 15 percent capital gains tax rate would remain. This includes pass through corporate income to shareholders as well.

Dollars & Sense In addition, the Alternative Minimum Preference Tax or AMT and proposed additional limitations on deductions, continue a strategy of taxing to pay for expensive government programs and record spending. If this were not enough, the Estate Tax lapsed on January 1, 2010 and Congress now is hovering over taxpayers trying to weigh in on how much we should be able to leave our heirs and at what tax rate; in order to properly “share the wealth.” The current discussion is to tax estates over $3.5 million at a 45 percent rate, coupled with state inheritance tax as applicable.

These taxation policies hold significant consequences for small business owners considering a possible sale of their company. If a lab or optical supply company is contemplating a sale or strategic merger in the next five years or so, now is the time to take a hard look at both timing and tax planning. While an additional capital gains tax increase of 5 percent or greater is material, it is just the tip of the burden associated with the current taxation discussions. The danger is in the details with tax on recaptured deductions, loss of deductions inflating taxable income and that all elusive AMT.

Many small business owners have addressed tax planning and estate tax planning and are now under the false impression that they have a complete plan of action. With this administration and this Congress, all past bets are off. It is back to the drawing board with an eye on planning now for a sale or transfer of estate ownership in the foreseeable future. If you want to “share your wealth,” give it to your family or hard working employees, not wasteful government spending.

—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].


Lab Notes


OLA, Vision Council Agree to Merge

The Executive Committees of Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) and The Vision Council have signed a letter of intent to merge their organizations. Officials from the two groups met last month to discuss details of the proposed merger during The Vision Council’s annual Executive Summit in Miami, Fla. Click here for details.

Essilor Acquires Three Labs, Closes a Fourth

Essilor has increased its market share in the U.S. by acquiring a majority or all the interest in three prescription laboratories: Ultimate Optical in Florida, with $6.3 million in annual revenue, Optical Dimensions in Michigan, with $3.7 million in annual revenue, and Truckee Meadows Optical in Nevada, with $3 million in annual revenue. Essilor announced the acquisitions last month along with seven other international acquisitions or partnership agreements.

In a separate move, Essilor closed the Salina, Kansas branch of Duffens Optical. The lab, which employed seven workers, closed its doors Jan. 29. Essilor continues to operate several other Duffens Optical locations throughout the Midwest.

LensWorks Triples Size of LabLensWorks Triples Size of Lab

LensWorks, an independently owned full-service lab in Plymouth, Minn., recently celebrated the grand opening of its newly expanded facility. The company hosted an open house attended by over 50 customers and trade representatives who received lab tours followed by food, entertainment and prize drawings.

Just three years after beginning operation, LensWorks has tripled the size of its facility to nearly 9,000 square feet. “New ideas and a newly renovated space, combined with efficiencies in our work processes, will allow us to serve our customers even better. Our growth also provides an opportunity for the development of expanded products and services in the future,” said LensWorks co-owners Lyle Olson, Debbie Schmitz and Brian Workman, who share in the operations and mangement of the company.

LensWorks currently employs 17 people serving ECPs in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. Future plans include on-site events to assist ECPs with opticianry training, new product introductions and ABO approved continuing education sessions. LensWorks processes over 200 Rxs per day and offers online ordering with DVI Rx.

Marcella Optical Joins Zeiss Lab Network

Carl Zeiss Vision has announced a joint venture with Marcella Optical of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that will incorporate the lab into Carl Zeiss Vision’s national laboratory network. Marcella Optics will retain a presence in Cedar Rapids, but will work closely with Carl Zeiss Vision’s Iowa City laboratory. The majority of Marcella Optics employees will be retained either at the Cedar Rapids facility or offered positions in Iowa City or other Carl Zeiss Vision locations.

Founded in 2005, Marcella Optical serves customers in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska and beyond.

Focus On

Frank HicksFrank Hicks @ Precision Optics

Precision Optics is a small, independent optical laboratory located in Richmond, Virginia. In July 2006, Frank Hicks joined the laboratory as general manager & director of sales, a position he continues to hold. His team spirit and drive make him the “go-to guy” for many of the labs needs.

With 30 years as an experienced, licensed optician, Hicks is a valuable asset to the company. His responsibilities vary day-to-day, even moment-to-moment. “Working within a small lab, daily operations require me to wear many different hats,” said Hicks.

Whether it is running the production operations as economically and efficiently as possible, or answering clients’ technical queries throughout the day, Hicks is there for support. He is also the only salesperson Precision employs. This requires him to manage his time in the lab, as well as be on the road for an average of two to three days a week.

Hicks’ proudest moments with Precision Optics have come through team building. “When people know that you genuinely care about them, it is amazing how hard folks will work together for the success of everyone,” said Hicks. This has led to increased client retention, which Hicks says is a testament to the team and the service they provide.

Before taking his position with Precision Optics, Hicks owned his own dispensary. He worked for a private optometrist for over a decade’s time, as well as managed and opened large stores for a regional optical chain.

Whether working in an independent dispensary, optical retail chain or wholesale lab, Hicks has always focused on providing customers with the best products and services. “Working to make our clients happy is the most wonderful thing,” he said.

LabTalk Spotlight   February 2010

Jan/Feb LabTalkZoom, Zoom—Keeping Up to Speed with Free-form Lenses
Every year, millions of automobile enthusiasts anticipate the debut of the newest car models. Suddenly, the amazing features and look of last year’s cars don’t seem so exciting. Instead, motorists crave new options such as air-conditioned seats, a built-in DVD player or parking sensors in the bumpers.

Advancements in the optical industry are perceived in a similar fashion. When free-form lenses debuted, they were all the rage—just like when the Hummer and Dodge’s Magnum came onto the market. But who wants yesterday’s model when the newest free-form offerings promise to deliver even better clarity? Simply put, the old models are no longer up to speed.

The free-form concept encompasses everything from lens mold development to backside lens surfacing. “While free-form technology in itself doesn’t ensure a superior lens design, it enhances lens quality by overcoming many of the traditional manufacturing limitations that could result in small, unintended alterations of the lens design,” explained Joan Hollywood, marketing director, Augen Optics. “The key benefit of free-form manufacturing is the capacity to produce lenses with tremendous accuracy of curve power, delivering the lens design exactly as intended by the designer.”

Craig Fahan, marketing communications manager, Seiko, pointed out three benefits of free-form lenses:

1. The spherical front surface eliminates front surface distortion.

2. The back surface design brings the prescription closer to the eye, adding to the wider fields of vision in all visual zones.

3. The free-form design customizes the prescription to the patient’s exact prescription.

Jeff Hopkins, communications manager at Carl Zeiss Vision, added, “The real benefit comes when we combine on-demand, real-time free-form manufacturing with real-time lens design. This allows us to create a lens that is uniquely designed for the needs of an individual patient.”

To learn more about what’s new in digitally surfaced free-form lens designs, log onto where you will find Keeping Up with Free-Form Lenses, listed under the Features section.

Make What You Say, Pay!

Guilty of ‘Presentation Babble?’

Make What you Say, Pay!

Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: According to a Global Information Industry study, the average number of words of information that each American consumed per day outside of work in 2008 was 100,000. It doesn’t mean you read all these words, just that they crossed your eyes or ears in a 24-hour period and, no surprise given the Internet and mobile communication, that number increases annually.

No wonder it is so difficult to make an impact! I was reminded of this as I coached a really sharp sales rep yesterday for a leading media company. Her visuals were great, her information was compelling, her energy was infectious, but her key points were lost in “presentation babble:” extraneous side comments, sentences that were not really structured to hit home, and segues between points that were choppy or non-existent.

People are only going to listen to what stands out in the flood of information that washes over them daily. That means your words have to catch their attention, relate to them, keep what you are saying interesting, and make it easy to follow. Try video or audio taping your key business conversations: what you say on the telephone to get appointments; what you say when you first meet prospects in their offices; what you say when you meet people in a networking situation; and—absolutely—what you say when you are presenting to win business or gain support for your ideas. Are you part of the information overload problem or does what you say rise above the noise of those 100,000 words and make an impact that gets you what you want?

Time is short: Make What You Say, Pay!

Anne Miller

New Products

Bristolite Poly-B 13 Base

Bristol C&D

Manufacturer: Bristol C&D
Poly-B high base plus polycarbonate product line extension
13-base single vision semi-finished aspheric lens
Availability: Poly-B lenses are available in 70mm single vision, in base curves of 9.00, 11.00, and now, 13.00. Poly-B FT-28 bifocals are 70mm and offered in 9.00 and 11.00 base with an add range of +2.00 to +4.00. 13 base bifocal will be released in summer, 2010
(877) 255-1181

New And Improved Crizal Alize Lenses

New And Improved Crizal Alizé Lenses

Manufacturer: Essilor of America
New generation of AR lenses with improved cleanability replaces previous Alize products
Enhanced top coat creates 116° contact angle. After 20,000 cleanings, more than 98 percent of the super-hydrophobic top coat remains, protecting the lens from scratches that can result from regular cleanings. Proprietary High Surface Density (HSD) process densely packs the top coat molecules together so fingerprints, dirt, oil or smudges can’t stick to lenses. Lenses stay cleaner longer and remain the easiest to clean. Double-Sided Integrated Hard Coat delivers scratch resistance and durability that can withstand everyday wear and tear. Exclusive Pad Control System ensures edging precision
Availability: Rx and Finished Single Vision (FSV) in the same materials as the prior generation with two exceptions: the discontinuation of FSV AS Thin&Lite 1.60 and the launch of three new materials: FSV 1.5 Transitions VI Gray, FSV AS Airwear Transitions VI Gray and FSV AS Thin&Lite 1.67 Transitions VI Gray
(800) THE-EYES

NuPolar Trilogy—Visual Armor

NuPolar Trilogy—Visual Armor

Manufacturer: Younger Optics
Combines impact protection, superior optics, light weight and chemical resistance of Trilogy with NuPolar Rx polarized technology
Features: Blocks blinding glare. Superb adhesion characteristics ensure NuPolar lenses will not delaminate or separate. Consistent true curve control is beneficial for digital surfacing requirements. High polarization efficiency. Superb color uniformity and color consistency
Availability: NuPolar lenses are also available in hard resin, polycarbonate and high index 1.67
(800) 877-5367

Kodak Sun Lenses with NXT Technology

Kodak Sun Lenses with NXT Technology

Manufacturer: Signet Armorlite
New line of Kodak Sun Lenses with NXT technology
Lenses fit a wide assortment of frames and are durable for rimless. They are made of Trivex material from PPG, which offers benefits in terms of durability, fatigue, and resistance to UV radiation. Demo lens kits can be purchased from Signet Armorlite
Photochromic polarized, photochromic, polarized, mirror and fixed tint lenses available in both Kodak Unique progressives and Signetek- processed single vision
(800) 759-0075

Unity Performance Coatings

Unity Performance Coatings

Manufacturer: VSP Labs
New private label line of anti-reflective coatings available exclusively through VSP’s wholly-owned labs. Line consists of Unity, Unity Plus and Unity Elite
Durable coatings that reduce glare, resist scratching and are easy to clean. Oleophobic and hydrophobic properties repel dirt, oils and water.

Unity Performance Coatings benefits include: Unity (VSP Category B)—A value focused coating providing a multi-layer product that reduces glare. Unity is easy to clean, more durable than basic AR coatings and offers an enhanced cosmetic appearance.

Unity Plus (VSP Category C)—Provides a premium, double-sided hard coat, offering excellent glare reduction and smudge and scratch resistant properties. Unity Plus also helps to reduce eye fatigue and offers improved night-driving vision and increased comfort during prolonged computer use.

Unity Elite (VSP Category D)—Provides wearers with the highest performance overall, reducing glare and offering extreme resistance to smudges, scratches, and abrasions. Unity Elite also provides a super-hydrophobic topcoat and oleophobic technology that repels dirt, dust and fingerprints, and cleans easily. Wearers of Unity Elite will enjoy premium performance in nearly any environment.
Offered exclusively through VSP’s wholly owned laboratories

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Andy Karp

Andrew Karp
Editor, Lab Advisor
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Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk
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