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AR Optical Machinery, Inc.


Dollars & Sense
AR Optical Machinery, Inc.

Train Your People

The New Year is right around the corner and it is time to think about your business with fresh eyes. Over the last ten months I have been honored to give you some tips about selling, marketing and branding through LabAdvisor. This month, I am going to ask you to make an investment.

Over the last fifteen years in our industry I have one key observation. Lens, frame and accessory companies all have invested in training their sales people. I wish I could say the same with independent laboratories and I am not sure why they don’t.

I’m reminded of an old but quick conversation that may be the reason, “Why should I train my sales people so they can leave and go to the competition?” My reply: “But what if you don’t and they stay?”

Companies in any industry are only as good as the people and processes they have in place. Investing in one but not the other doesn’t seem to make much sense, yet we do it every day. This year, I want to challenge you to take advantage of opportunities to invest in your people and get them trained with the latest information and techniques to do their jobs. The rate of change in our industry over the last five years exceeds the previous 50. The next five years look as disruptive as the last. If we keep doing the same things we always have we will be playing “catch up” at best, and obsolete at worst.

Look for training opportunities through associations, groups, vendors and suppliers. Everyone is interested in making those who can sell products and services better and stronger at what they do. No one loses in a well-trained organization.

Don’t penalize your own company because your staff is not trained to be as effective as they can be. Will the investment be significant in training and developing your people? Yes, it can be. Is it worth it? Every penny.

Michael Karlsrud is the owner and CEO of 6 Calls, a tele-services company that serves the optical industry with its two divisions; Telecare and Business-to-Business. or


AR Optical Machinery, Inc.

Lab Notes

Lab Division Meeting a Success

The Optical Lab Division 2013 meeting, held last month, received high marks from attendees. The year-long planning process brought education which tackled some of the most trending topics and toughest challenges in our industry, from the influences of ECP buying groups to looking at lab customers’ profitability to enhance the business relationship and overall satisfaction. These topics were selected by our Program Committee as part of a larger, ongoing effort to help labs grow their businesses.

International Vision Expo West provided the perfect backdrop and enhanced the meeting with its expansive exhibits where products and technologies, important to labs and their customers, could be seen. As a division of The Vision Council, we are committed to preparing you for future trends by giving you a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about what your customers are seeing – and asking for. This includes carving out time for socializing with your peers as we recognize that many solutions to industry-wide issues are solved through collaboration. I hope you’ll join us next year. Mark your calendars for 2014: Sept. 17-20.

The Optical Lab Division meeting is just one of the many ways we look out for the lab community. Visit our activities page on The Vision Council’s Website at to learn more about our year-round efforts to strengthen our industry.                                               Mike Daley, Optical Lab Division Liaison

Tim Steffey Dies at Age 45

Formerly of Sunstar Optical, Las Vegas, and most recently with Solidar Express Coatings, Timothy Kelley Steffey passed away the morning of October 18th in Las Vegas after a brief illness. He was 45-years-old. A regular at the annual California Optical Laboratories Association, Steffey served on the COLA board of directors, holding several positions including COLA president. Growing up in the optical industry, Steffey worked under his father Ron Steffey of Sunstar Optical and at various other optical companies including Signet Armorlite and Solidar Express Coatings. Steffey is survived by his father Ron, mother Bonnie, stepmother Cherrie and sister Jennifer.

A private Celebration of Life was held in his honor in Las Vegas on Nov. 3. Donations can be made in Tim Steffey’s name to Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas charity he supported.

Kodak Lens Lab Awards

From April 1st through August of 2013, more than 100 wholesale labs competed with others of similar size to earn cash prizes based on level of support to grow the KODAK Lens brand. Labs that earned a cash prize during the promotion include: Robertson Optical Lab in Columbia, SC; Quality Optical Lab in Florida; Ozarks Optical Lab in Missouri; Milroy Optical Lab in Florida; Focus Optical Lab in Illinois; Custom Eyes Optical, Precision Optics, Spectrum Optical and Custom Eyes Optical Labs in Minnesota.

“It is very comforting to witness first-hand the enormous energy these labs have invested in KODAK Lenses,” says Beverly Marquez, executive vice president North America sales during the awards ceremony at Vision Expo West. “We sincerely appreciate your efforts to grow the KODAK Lens brand and we look forward to our continued partnership.”

Pictured here left to right are: Paul LaGrange, Signet Armorlite, Robertson Optical’s Larry Patton and Kimberly Harris.

Vision-Ease Lens Employees Help Build Home

Thanks to Vision-Ease Lens (VEL) and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, a local family will have a new home in time for the Christmas holiday in Brooklyn Park, Minn. This is the fifth year Vision-Ease Lens, a leading ophthalmic lens manufacturer based in Ramsey, Minn., has partnered with the homeownership nonprofit. Over five days, 57 VEL employees went to work hanging drywall and siding, installing flooring and trim, building a deck, painting inside and outside the house, and landscaping the yard. The team’s work put the project’s finish ahead of schedule. For more pictures of the VEL volunteers at work, visit


AR Optical Machinery, Inc.

Focus On...

Paul Zito and Encore Optics

By Judith Lee

For Paul Zito, the measure of a person, their career and company is not taken in dollars or spreadsheets, but in the lives touched for the better.

“I’m most proud of the lives I’ve touched through their employment at Encore Optics and even earlier, at QSA (another lab Zito founded in 1979 and sold 20 years later). One of my employees since 1982, an immigrant from Peru, has raised and educated her children. The son is now an accountant and the daughter is an attorney. She said to me, ‘None of this would have happened if I didn’t work for you’,” Zito said.

In his current position as advisor to Laura Bush in her new role as General Manager Encore Optics, Zito believes he is still touching lives and contributing to the continuous development of his former staff.

“Encore has very loyal employees, and they are loyal because of mutual respect. All managers came to us early in their careers, and learned the optical business from us. Every person is respected for what they do,” Zito noted.

Founded in 2003, Encore was fully acquired by Nikon in 2012. Zito believes the values held by lab employees and Lab Management meshes very well with Nikon’s corporate culture.

“Nikon is one of the most recognized names in the industry, and they are recognized for quality. Encore is very an extremely disciplined and structured operation. At Encore, understanding roles and responsibilities, including accountability, have always been a key to success,” Zito said.

Nikon began investing in Encore in 2008, and that partnership enabled state-of-the-art technology Introductions with Nikon AR and digital processing. Technology then enabled greater volume, and the lab had to fast-track its training programs for current staff. At the same time, it brought in new employees and trained them. The lab staff has doubled over the past few years. The pace doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Zito noted that Nikon has 24 lens products in other markets that have not yet reached the U.S. Nikon provides extensive training for each new product.

“What we have are exacting technology and procedures, combined with the Nikon brand name and technology behind us. Our end product is technically advanced,” Zito said. “This is how we stand out in a competitive marketplace.”


AR Optical Machinery, Inc.

LabTalk Spotlight

The Changing Face of the Eye Care Provider

By Judith Lee

You wouldn’t call the “new ECP” two-faced, more like multi-faced or multi-faceted. More likely to be female than male, the new ECP may be employed by an MD or a large optometric practice, is focused on medical eye care, is well-paid, and manages or works with a staff of 8 or more. Along with accepting medical health insurance, the new ECP accepts eight to 10 vision plans, and dispenses eyewear. This is the changing face of the Eye Care Provider (ECP), who is likely to be your customer for some time to come.

There’s no doubt there are more women ECPs today. According to a 2012 survey by the American Optometric Association (AOA), 39 percent of practicing optometrists are female, and 61 percent are male. That’s a big change in two decades, when women comprised less than 10 percent of the profession. But hold on – optometry schools are bursting with new female optometrists. Right now, more than two-thirds of optometry school students are women.

What are the ramifications for the profession of optometry? The first is that women appear to be less likely to own their eye care practices. The AOA study shows that three out of four practice owners are male. Even among those who graduated within the past 10 years, men are more likely to be solo practice owners (59%) or non-solo practice owners (73%). Female optometrists comprised the majority (51%) for non-owners and new non-owner optometrists (58%). Why might this be the case? Observers believe women are looking for work-life balance.

This doesn’t mean women are less interested in practicing, he noted, but they are practicing differently, sometimes buying a practice with a another female OD partner to share the workload at the office while allowing for time to tend to family or personal needs.

To discover more trends affecting and shaping your current and future customers, go to and read the complete article.


AR Optical Machinery, Inc.

Make What You Say, Pay!

Is The Confidence Factor Killing or Winning Your Sale?

When I asked a new client why he selected me from among the three he had interviewed for presentation training for his team, his answer surprised me. I thought he would say the quality of the programs, my willingness to customize, my methodology, or any of a number of other standard buying criteria. Instead, he answered in two words: “Your confidence. “ He said, “You were so confident, I just knew you could do what we need.” I had forgotten how important a seller’s confidence can be to a buyer. No matter what you sell, what does confidence look like and how do you manifest it?

The Two Essential Confidence Markers
The foundation for confidence comes from two sources. Without these, other factors don't matter.
1.The strength of your convictions. You must believe in your heart of hearts that what you are selling or advocating is of real value to your buyer/listeners. If you don’t, your buyer/listener will immediately sniff that out, not unlike when you can tell your kid is faking an answer to you. If you are missing that belief, it is probably time to look for another job--or to improve your product until you do believe in it.

Tip: Ask existing clients what they like about your product. Let their positive feedback bolster any shaky reservations you may have about what you are promoting.

2. The strength of your skills. Are you skilled at the sales process? Have you mastered the art and science of presenting? As golf champion Jack Nicklaus said, “Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.”

Tip: Continuously improve your skills. Take a course, get coaching, read. Always be learning from people smarter and better than you are.

Words Matter: Make What You Say Pay! ©2012 Anne Miller, author, “metaphorically Selling”

New Products

New LMS System in the Cloud

OPTUITIVE is a revolutionary new cloud-based lab management software (LMS) with an exclusive Smart User Experience designed for maximum usability and performance from Optical Lab Software Solutions, Inc. (OLSS). OPTUITIVE is the first LMS to be offered as a true HIPPA compliant software service in the cloud. OPTUITIVE is easily accessible using a Web browser and virtually any device, including smart phones and tablets. OPTUITIVE provides a secure high performance cloud-based infrastructure that delivers maximum efficiency, up and out scalability, and long term reliability. For more information call (336) 707-7542, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Two New PALs from HOYA Vision

HOYA Vision Care has launched two new highly customized progressive lens designs: iD LifeStyle 2 Harmony and iD LifeStyle 2 Clarity. iD LifeStyle Clarity is a progressive lens design with its primary focus is on maximizing distance vision, which tends to be most important to newer, more active, progressive lens wearers in the 35 to 50 age range. iD LifeStyle Harmony is designed to be the “go-to” progressive lens when you want to provide the most comfortable distribution of powers across the primary viewing areas. iD LifeStyle 2 Harmony and Clarity are available in a wide range of materials including polycarbonate, plastic, Phoenix, hi-index 1.60 and 1.67 as well as with Transitions and Suntech. For more information contact visit the HOYA Vision Website at

Premium Glass Lenses

Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd., released CrownView lenses, the first premium glass progressive and single vision free-form lenses in the United States. CrownView has a soft progressive design with smooth power changes for effortless adaptation and increased patient comfort. CrownView progressive lenses offer the lowest minimum fitting height in glass progressive lenses and can accommodate smaller frames to decrease weight. They offer larger diameter progressive lens blanks for greater cut-out availability. CrownView is also available in an aspheric/atoric single vision design. CrownView lenses feature the largest selection of glass materials and colors available for progressive lenses in the marketplace. Lenses are available Uncut or Edged & Mounted. A lab-to-lab program is available and inquiries are welcome at [email protected].

Versatile Advanta FSV

Vision-Ease Lens introduced Advanta, its new spherical FSV polycarbonate lens that is the ultimate in versatility. Advanta lenses feature flatter front curves, providing better aesthetics and fitting with today’s frames, and ample edge thickness on low minus and plus powers accommodate rimless and drill mount frames. For maximum scratch resistance and excellent AR compatibility, Advanta lenses are protected by VEL’s own Continua thermal-cured hard coating. The lenses have base curve compatibility with Vision-Ease Lens SFSV for out-of-range surfacing or stock outage. For more information, visit

New Central Slurry System From PSI

Practical Systems, Inc. (PSI) introduced their new 915 Central Slurry System, designed to consolidate slurry for digital processing. This 23-gallon capacity slurry system reduces the number of chillers and slurry tanks needed by half. Designed with two pumps and a two-filter system, it handles high volumes of polish. When used with a PSI 985 chiller, it will maintain polish at the optimum temperature for superior lens surface quality. For more information on PSI’s Central Slurry Systems, contact us at 800-237-8154 or visit our website at


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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