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Optical Prescription Lab Named 2011 Transitions Lab of the Year

Transitions Optical has selected Optical Prescription Lab (OPL) as the 2011 Transitions Lab of the Year. The coveted title was presented during an awards ceremony at the 16th annual Transitions Academy meeting last month in Orlando, Fla., which was which was attended by over 1,300 industry professionals. A four-time finalist for the award, OPL is a family-run lab headquartered in Pelham, Ala. that provides premium optical products to eyecare professionals throughout the Southeast.

Accepting the award at the Transitions Academy Awards banquet are, left to right: Brian Conley, marketing director of OPL; Scott Betcher of Transitions Optical; Sherry Pugh, vice president of OPL, and Erin Michelotti and Chad Ustazewski of Transitions Optical.

During Transitions Academy, Transitions Lab of the Year finalists Soderberg Ophthalmic Services and Toledo Optical Laboratory were also recognized for their year-long efforts and dedication to the Transitions brand.

Expert Optics Hosts ICO Grads

Expert Optics, an independent wholesale lab based in Shorewood, Ill., recently hosted laboratory tours and education for the entire graduating class of 2014 from the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) of Chicago, Ill. The 153 second year Optometry students learned about overall lens processing including digital surfacing, premium anti-reflective lens treatments and the latest technology of on the block no touch manufacturing (OBM.) The future optometrists were also provided insight into the business side of independent practice including maximizing patient satisfaction and profits, as well as utilizing industry resources available to them.

Pictured here are, L to R: Don Ruden, CEO of Expert Optics, Neil Hodur, O.D. of the Illinois College of Optometry and Greg Ruden, president of Expert Optics with Optometry students from the Illinois College of Optometry at Expert Optics.

VSP Acquires Majority Interest in Two Labs

VSP Global recently acquired a majority interest in two wholesale prescription laboratories that it owns in partnership with Carl Zeiss Vision: Perfect Optics in Vista, Calif. and Zeiss/VSP Lab in Tampa Bay, Fla.

The Perfect Optics transaction involved VSP buying out shares of the company owned by individual members of its management team, according to VSP. However, the lab's management, headed by Tom Brophy, remains in place. Perfect Optics was ranked as the 16th largest U.S. independent wholesale lab in Vision Monday's 2011 Top Labs Report, with estimated Rx sales of $12 million.

The management of Zeiss/VSP Lab, Tampa Bay, headed by Danny Singer, also remains in place.

Warren Meyer, senior VP lab operations, VSP Optics Group, told VMail that VSP increased its ownership stake in the two labs in order to expand distribution of its proprietary Unity brand of lenses and coatings.

"We felt there was a need to have even broader availability of those products for our ECPs. The easiest, most reasonable way to expand this was to take a majority position in our two partner labs," said Meyer.

In addition to its partnership with Zeiss in CZV Florida and Perfect Optics, VSP operates five wholly owned prescription labs located throughout the U.S. The five labs generated estimated Rx sales of $84.6 million, according to Vision Monday's 2011 Top Labs Report.

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The American Jobs Act 2011:
What's In It for Small Business?

Small Business = Job Creators! The vast majority of small business owners are not part of the 1%, but do aspire to be there at some point. The Great Recession has impacted both the rich and poor and all of us in-between. The president's proposal for the American Jobs Act of 2011 contains some positive tax initiatives that would provide welcome relief for labs and other small businesses and may stimulate some hiring:

  • 50% reduction in OASDI paid by employers—Currently, employers pay 6.2% of each employees wages up to $106,000 to fund the social security entitlement. These are matched by withholding from employees at currently 4.2% of their wages. The Administration's proposal would reduce the employer's portion to 3.1% of wages below $106,000 per employee. For an average optical lab with net sales of $3,000,000 and a wage percentage of 22%, this would mean a tax reduction of $20,460 in the amount of payroll tax you pay on behalf of your employees. At this level, you may consider hiring another employee for $9.83 per hour.
  • For new hires, there is a tax credit for OASDI—For each new hire for business small and large alike, there would be a credit for all of OASDI paid by the employer, which typically would 6.2% of the employee's wages. So if you hired a worker for the above $20,460 you save from bullet point 1, you would save an additional $1,269 in payroll tax which may allow you to offer the employee $10.45 per hour.
  • Extend 100% expensing of capital expenditures through 2012—The administration's plan would extend the ability for small business to deduct 100% of the purchase of equipment and plant purchased in 2012. Basically what this means for the lab owner is that if you invest, let's say, $800K in revamping your lines to digital processing you can write off the investment in the first year through tax depreciation. So if you made an $800K investment and you turned a profit before depreciation of $800K, $800K would not be taxable in the first year for a federal tax savings of approximately 25% of $800K, or $200K. This might entice you to hire up to 9 more employees at the combined savings from bullets one and two above.

There are a lot other provisions in the Act which could help people looking for work and those that have jobs keep some more of the money that they earn outside of what it does to help small business. I think the best way to reducing unemployment is growing sales. If your business is growing as a savvy business owner, you'll add employees to meet demand and make more money regardless of the tax incentives given by government. —Jason A. Meyer, managing director, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of companies in the optical sector. You can send comments or questions about this article or any other Dollars & Sense articles to Jason A. Meyer at [email protected].


Focus On

e.magine Optical's Tom Yancy

By Judith Lee

The strategy is simple, but not easy to execute: provide exceptional service, fast turn-around time and support the customer with quality educational programs. It's a strategy that has paid off in steady growth for e.magine Optical during a down economy.

Tom Yancy, president of the Tulsa, Oklahoma lab, said e.magine Optical is first and foremost committed to arming its customers with the tools needed to compete effectively against optical chains and "big box" stores.

"We offer almost any brand of progressive lenses in a full range of materials and colors. Since we are a Global Optics lens warehouse shareholder we draw on a vast inventory of lenses representing all major manufacturers," Yancy said.

e.magine Optical's secret weapon is proprietary lab management software connected to the lens warehouse. If the lenses aren't in stock when the job is entered, the lenses are ordered automatically and received the next day in a single daily overnight shipment of all vendors and brands.

e-magine Optical provides ECPs with extra ammo: Team Rewards, a comprehensive marketing plan at a fraction of the customary fee, and Jumpstart Your Office, a 6-module training series for opticians and office staff. The lab just recently launched ABO-accredited training.

e.magine Optical has totally re-engineered its production facility. Robotic surfacing allows for digital cut to polish and the lab can process almost every major digital progressive lens design. In-house AR controls quality and minimizes turn-around time. New updated robotic edging equipment is on order.

Yancy admitted that installing new equipment and processes take their toll. Digital surfacing may be the most challenging because it requires collaboration of multiple vendors, suppliers and intellectual property owners—as well as employee retraining.

"I've been very pleased with our employee's quick adaptation to the many changes we have made," Yancy said.

While automation has reduced workforce needs, steady growth has enabled e.magine Optical to retrain and reassign duties. With smarter machines, the lab can make do with less skilled workers, but Yancy said many duties still require the "unique skills and artistic abilities" of long-time employees.

The lab's online ordering software integrates with the lab management software to minimize errors. Tracking vendor—specific purchase points makes it easy to administer joint lab/vendor promotions. And of course, there's participation in Social Media.

"Since we do business only with ECPs, our Facebook page is used to announce new products, services and promotions," said Yancy. "Any public inquires are referred to our customers based upon their proximity."

Revving Up Your Free-Form: New Products and Tips To Make The Most of This New Vehicle

By Judith Lee

Free-form generators and polishers are the electric cars of the optical laboratory business. Everyone thinks they're a good idea, but not everyone agrees free-form is the right vehicle for their lab operation. Offering a more compact footprint, efficiency, and in some cases, eco-friendly features, free-form equipment continues to evolve in ways that are likely to drive the industry into the future. Check out these tips from the makers of free-form equipment.

From Augen: Clean, dry compressed air is essential in maintaining proper function and longevity of all equipment.

From Chemat Technologies: Acquire the software not only for progressives, but also for bifocal and lenticular to produce all lens types in the free-form generators.

From Coburn Technologies: Carefully evaluate all of the free-form lens processing solutions available. The price for free-form lens surfacing technology has come down in 2011 through the release of lower priced generators and disposable free-form polishing pads. Some will allow you to upgrade the system you currently have.

From Optotech: Since you can now produce just about anything out of just a few semi-finished products, one of the main advantages of having free-form equipment is a reduction in turn-around time, especially with a multiple shift environment. To further improve turn-around, also consider in house AR Coating.

From Satisloh: Properly maintained equipment will not only make daily production easier but will ultimately extend the life of the machine and bring more value to your investment.

From Schneider Optical Machines: While the free-form process should eliminate certain steps, provide greater accuracy and is easier to run, it is much more sensitive to outside influences. A properly trained operator is critical to the process.

To find out what the "Better" is for non-alloy blocks, go to and go to the FEATURES section where you will find this complete article.

2012 VM Summit
Make What You Say Pay

Simplest Way to Get Attention

Sometimes the obvious eludes otherwise really smart people. I am talking about what goes on the first slide of a presentation or on the first page of a proposal. I was reminded of this recently during a consulting assignment with a leading company in the digital space.

Think about what you do. What do you put on the first slide of a sales presentation? The name of your company (XYZ). Check. The name and/or logo of the prospective buyer (ABC). Check. And, then, what is your title?

Is it a version of any of the following?
• Partnering for Success with ABC, or
• Proposal for ABC, or
• XYZ and ABC

If you answered yes, then you have just shot yourself in the foot and lost your listeners. One: Listeners don't care about your desire for a partnership. They have other things on their mind. Two: Listeners already know this is a proposal. (Duh.) Three: You may have your two firms married in a business deal in your mind, but they aren't even sure they want to date you at this point! You're rushing it. (For the record, this was my client's original title.)

It's About Them, Not You
The only title that grabs attention is the one that promises an alignment of interests between what you do and what they want and what buyers want is to do any of the following:

• Increase a metric: sales, revenues, market share, conversions, clicks, traffic, profits, etc.
• Improve something they value: insights, quality, productivity, image, morale, brand safety, leverage, etc.
• Reduce things that lead to loss: costs, inefficiencies, time, waste, error rates, etc.

Know what your buyer wants and make THAT the title of your PPT presentation or your written proposal. You may not win the business, but you will win the right to their attention.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!
—Anne Miller

©2011, Anne Miller, author, “Metaphorically Selling”


Mr. Orange Edger

Manufacturer: Essilor Instruments USA

Description: Mr. Orange is the newest addition to the Essilor Instruments USA line of high efficiency finishing products.

Features: Mr. Orange features integrated functions such as management of high curves up to base 9 and optical tracing that is twice as fast as mechanical tracing for rimless and groove jobs. All edging, grooving, and drilling tools can incline up to 30 degrees. The system has intuitive navigation, a touch-screen interface and visual alerts. Exclusive, patented Fit-4-Frame technology lets users determine the best lens level profile for each frame/lens combination depending on lens thickness at four strategic points. Essilor's Star Control provides real-time control of cutting forces to minimize torque and stress on the lens while optimizing the speed of the edging cycle.

Making Mr. Orange even more powerful is Essibox, Essilor's open communication system that integrates an office network and effectively manages shape and drill point databases. Lifetime remote maintenance comes standard with Mr. Orange and keeps it performing at its best with downloaded updates and remote diagnostics.

The Essilor design team factored in the operator's comfort in Mr. Orange's detailing: the centering space is designed for all lens geometries; a hand rest and front loading arm for ambidextrous use; and the hand rest has a soft touch finish for comfort and accuracy. The unit's innovative computerized centering aid makes blocking with Mr. Orange easy, fast and precise.
email: [email protected]

Transitions Vantage Lenses

Manufacturer: Transitions Optical

Description: The newest addition to the Transitions family of products are everyday adaptive lenses designed to both darken and polarize upon UV exposure to deliver noticeably crisper, sharper vision, even in the brightest outdoor glare. These lenses not only adapt to changing light but also increase polarization as they darken, optimizing the angle at which light reaches the eyes to help control glare and light scatter, the company said.

Features: Transitions Vantage lenses offer the dual benefits of variable tint and variable polarization. With variable polarization the lenses not only adapt to changing light by darkening, but also by increasing in polarization. This means that Transitions Vantage lenses will have a variable level of polarization efficiency depending on the amount of UV exposure. The darker the lens, the more polarization efficiency there is.

Transitions Vantage lenses use technology that is different than conventional photochromic and polarization technologies. The photochromic dyes in Transitions Vantage lenses not only darken, but they also align to create polarization. This technology does not use a polarized film, and while the photochromic molecules still change shape when exposed to UV light, they also change alignment.

Western Optical Supply
2012 Catalog

Manufacturer: Western Optical Supply

Description: Western Optical Supply has totally redesigned its catalog for 2012. The new catalog provide more "how to" information about the extensive Western Optical Supply line of unique dispensing hand tools and accessories.

Features: The catalog features a number of new products, including an expanded line of pliers that are now available with a foam grip or enhanced steel grip in addition to the traditional vinyl. A new layout makes it easier to differentiate between the multiple offerings Western Optical Supply has for each plier type. Also, the detailed, "how to use" images have been expanded. Pricing has been simplified so that the same plier with varying grip treatments are all priced the same.

Several labor saving new tools are featured in the new catalog, including the nose pad popping out plier and the nose pad inserting plier. There is also the new eyewire forming press and a new version of the Universal Nut Grabber.; (800) 423-3294.


Send us news about your lab's new products, services, special events, tech advances or personnel changes.

Andy Karp

Andrew Karp
Editor, Lab Advisor
[email protected]


Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk
[email protected]

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