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Dollars & Sense

Election Fatigue

The elections are taking a toll on all of us long-suffering business folk hanging on the edge, waiting for a clearer understanding of tax and regulations so that we can just make prudent decisions. The current political climate, which is characterized by Congress' legislative deadlock, has caused much uncertainty. That uncertainty "risk" has kept many American business owners on the sidelines ever since the campaigns kicked off 18 months ago. Political uncertainty, coupled with the economic uncertainty in place since 2008, is dragging on this nation.

Many economic analysts argue that the reason there is an estimated trillion dollars or more in private investment money collecting dust is not specifically because of who is in office, but because our leaders are unable to communicate with any, any degree of certainty what the rules of the game will be. That's more of a testament to our political elite not being able to work together for the good of our people than it is about what political party or ideology prevails.

Whichever candidate wins the election will hopefully work to break Congress' legislative deadlock. This will provide more political certainty from our government and enable lab owners and other business owners to take greater risks that will enable them to grow their businesses. Chances are that with this certainty, you might just hire the next employee or make an investment in your business that would get this economy growing again—Jason A. Meyer, managing director, 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 A. Meyer at [email protected].



Lab Notes

Digital Eye Lab Expands Operations

Digital Eye Lab, the five-year-old prescription lab division of contact lens wholesaler Optical Distributor Group, has significantly expanded its production capabilities. The lab, located in Hawthorne, N.Y., recently added a third line of Satisloh digital surfacing equipment, as well as an automated conveyor system (pictured here). The new equipment has enabled Digital Eye Lab to step up production to nearly 900 Rx jobs per day, according to managing director Scott Pearl, who noted that he is planning to install a fourth surfacing line early next year. It has also improved the speed and efficiency of the workflow. "We now offer overnight turnaround on most jobs, even AR-coated progressives," said Pearl.

Digital Eye Lab, which only produces digitally surfaced backside lenses, has also expanded its menu of lens designs. "We use lens designs from six different suppliers, including Shamir, Indo, Seiko and our own Digital 5.0 brand," said Pearl." The lab also produces anti-reflective coating under its own ClarisHD brand.

VSP Labs Rebrands to VSPOne Optical Technology Centers

VSP Optics Group announced that its laboratory division, VSP Labs, has rebranded to VSPOne Optical Technology Centers. Under the new identity, VSP Labs Columbus is now VSPOne Columbus; Legends 4.0 Optical Laboratory is now VSPOne Dallas; Ultra Lens Optical Laboratory is now VSPOne Fort Lauderdale; Capitol Optical Laboratory is now VSPOne Olympia; VSP Labs Sacramento is now VSPOne Sacramento; Perfect Optics is now VSPOne San Diego and Zeiss/VSP Lab Tampa Bay is now VSPOne Tampa Bay.

As part of the rebranding, VSP Lab Rewards has become VSPOne Rewards. The programs and promotions remain the same and members will still be able to make purchases with points earned in the past.

POG Wins 13th Annual Optical Laboratory Website of the Year Award

Precision Optical Group (P.O.G.) has been named the winner of LabTalk magazine's Optical laboratory Website of the Year award. The Creston, Iowa-based wholesaler was praised by the magazine's panel of judges for its fun, animated home page as well as its overall look, feel and utility. The site also has standard features such as online ordering, job tracking and promotions.

LabTalk editor Christie Walker, left, presented the Website of the Year award to Shannon Waigand, center and Misty Johnston of P.O.G. last month at Jobson's Labapalooza party at Vision Expo West.

Jeremy Gnade Joins Rochester Optical

Jeremy Gnade has joined Rochester Optical as its director of sales. Gnade is a seasoned optics and manufacturing professional with 10 years of experience, and brings his expertise in lab operations, customer service and strategic thinking to Rochester Optical. He comes to Rochester Optical from VisionWeb, LLC, where he worked as a lab development consultant. Gnade was also President of Sunburst Optics in Syracuse, NY from 2004 to 2009, where he was instrumental in day-to-day lab operations and sales.



Focus On...

Tri-Supreme Optical's Mark Cohen

By Judith Lee

Sometimes addressing one person's pain becomes another person's competitive advantage. Just ask Tri-Supreme Optical, which has carved a niche for itself as a diligent training source for eyecare professionals.

"The ECPs are confused about digital surfacing. We've been training them again and again on this topic," noted Mark Cohen, director of training and marketing for the Farmingdale, N.Y. optical lab.

Cohen said the in-store training program has been retooled from a long presentation, which did not draw as much response, to a short presentation, which is very popular.

"The ECPs know they have to understand digital surfacing because it is not 'business as usual'," said Cohen, who added that Tri-Supreme has incentivized customers with dispenser spiffs or office discounts.

And you know what? It's working: in 2011, 6 percent to 7 percent of Tri-Supreme's orders were for digitally surfaced lenses; this year it's well over 30 percent.

"It does help we do digital in-house, along with coatings, Crizal, and so on. It all helps to reduce turnaround time on orders," Cohen said.

The lab, an Essilor partner, committed to digital surfacing by first training its customer service staff, then bringing in the equipment and training the lab personnel. Tri-Supreme then quietly started processing digital in-house, and worked out any "bugs" in their system.

Cohen is quick to note that optical labs, as well as ECPs, need to know they will be in a continual state of change and adaptation, due to technology.

"The whole digital process continues to change, lenses keep changing. We understand the ECPs' trepidation and confusion. We are working to help our accounts keep up by providing in-store training, information on our website, and sending a weekly e-blast," he said.

Overall, he noted that Tri-Supreme is facing the sluggish economy with a positive outlook.

"You have to stay focused and aggressive," Cohen said, "but also change with the industry. That's what I've learned from seven years of marketing and 40 years in the business."

LabTalk Spotlight

A Balancing Act: Lens Inventory & Reordering

By Rick Tinson

When planning lens inventory for a laboratory, care must be taken to maximize your fill rate while staying within your inventory budget. Smart planning to minimize the volume of "shorts" will lower your in-bound freight bill and maximize your service levels. A lab that can increase their fill rate from 80 percent to 90 percent will improve their service level and stockroom efficiency. Shorts are part of the lab business, but most lenses are purchased via regular stocking reorders, where opportunities for savings are significant. The stockroom is a non-value-added area of your business. The keys to a successful stockroom are accuracy, efficiency, and minimal additional cost.

Reordering Plan
Many wholesale labs that deal with multiple lens distributors habitually reorder every day from every manufacturer that they purchase from. In most cases, two orders are sent...the shorts and the stocking reorder. So labs tend to have a steady flow of inventory in transit, but frequently pay extra for Next Day or Second Day shipping. In practice, however, this may not be the most efficient means of re-stocking our shelves, and may be the cause of incurring hidden costs.

If you want to save money, you have to change the rules, and placing daily stocking reorders is the first rule to change. Our target is to have one-time or two-time per-week restocking orders. You may need to order twice-per-week if a typical weekly order from a manufacturer would be larger than your receiving area can handle. Ideally, you would time your reorders from your top distributors to arrive on different days of the week.

Find out the true cost of each order, the effects of lot size reordering and reorder size by reading the entire article on the newly redesigned LabTalk website.



Make What You Say, Pay!

Avoid Feeling Trapped in Negotiations

For me, a great vacation always includes reading a good book and this holiday it was "Personal History," by Katharine Graham. This fascinating autobiography is a page-turner of a story about her extraordinary life and the struggle to keep The Washington Post alive and profitable, after her husband committed suicide and left her, quite unprepared, to run the paper. One incident in that saga is particularly relevant for anyone who negotiates.

In 1975, The Washington Post faced an ugly and violent strike by the pressmen's union, the people who printed the paper each evening. Rather than cave in to terms that would ultimately bankrupt the paper, Graham and her team prepared the paper during the day and then, because of some previous training, they were able to man the presses at night to get the paper out themselves. Those weeks were a grueling experience both physically and emotionally. At one point, she writes that the tension had become so great she felt at a particularly low point, "paralyzed with fear," thinking she might "break." When she confided these feelings to her friend and editor, Meg Greenfield, Graham reports, "She [Meg] said something that sounds strange, but in fact gave me comforting relief. 'Don't forget there is an alternative. You can give up. You are in control of that decision. And keeping that in mind can help you stay in as long as you want.'"

Writes Graham, "Neither one of us thought this a serious alternative, but the very idea relieved my desperate sense of being trapped. Somehow, acknowledging that I had an alternative, however horrible, lessened my dread." (Emphasis mine)

Always Have a Plan B
While your negotiations may not occur on the same scale that confronted The Washington Post, the sense of being trapped or cornered in negotiating is very common. One of the biggest favors you can do yourself to avoid that counter-productive feeling and strengthen your resolve is to identify your alternative. You may not want to take it, but, as Graham, noted, just acknowledging it frees you from feeling trapped.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay!
©2012, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling"

New Products


Manufacturer: Mei System

Description: Mei System's new EzLine automatic feeder is a flexible jobs management system able to handle the loading of an edging line of Mei's Bisphera machines.

Features: EzLine receives the job trays from the factory conveyor or from Mei's de-stacker, downloads the OMA edging data from the server, and handles the working load of the entire line. The control unit sends the job to the most free machine accordingly with job specification and machine capacity. The control unit has the map of the capacity of each machine and makes sure that every job is sent to a machine that can handle it.

Click here to get more technical information and see a video of the EzLine in action.

K1 Chiller

Manufacturer: Applied Thermal Control

Description: The range of re-circulating chillers now offered by Applied Thermal Control (ATC) has been designed specifically for use in the laboratory. For example, the K1 chiller provides 1.75kW of cooling power, but occupies only 54cm x 42cm of valuable floor space.

Features: According to ATC, the K1 meets the needs of the most demanding applications with a temperature precision of ± 0.1°C. The new robust design improves ruggedness without compromising its stylish appearance. Even more important for a working lab, the K1 chiller is whisper quiet (68dB @ 1 meter).

ATC chillers have high/low temperature alarms, fluid level, flow and pressure indicators fitted as standard. The K1 is provided with a choice of pumps to meet all flow rate requirements. Applied Thermal Control also provides a two-year guarantee with all K series chillers.; +44 (0) 1530 839998

pc Edge Coat
(BPI Product #42509)

Manufacturer: BPI (Brain Power Inc.)

Description: Easy-to-apply edge coat treatment

Features: BPI pc Edge Coat works on hard resin, high-index, polycarbonate and polarized lenses. To use BPI pc Edge Coat, wet the felt tip applicator by holding the pen horizontally and cautiously press down on the felt tip against a lens. A small amount of PC Edge Coat will then moisten the felt tip. Wait three minutes between coats. Clean up excess with alcohol. Apply thin coats in order to achieve proper results. For darker color apply two to three thin layers.

Available in blue, gray, brown, green, yellow and pink.; (800) CALL-BPI.


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

Christie Walker

Christie Walker
Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor
[email protected]

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