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Dollars & Sense

Are you the Best Kept Secret in Town?

Are you the best kept secret in town? I know, you have been in business for 30 years and everyone knows who we are.   Or do they?

I love the idea that we often have that everyone knows who we are and what we do because we have been here forever.   The flaw in that logic is that you, your business and your customers all need to be living in a vacuum for that to be true.   The danger is we have become comfortable.   We’ve become comfortable in ourselves, in our customer base and most dangerously, in our industry.  

Today, nothing is comfortable.   How we have done business in the past will led us to irrelevance today.   Relationships you have built over decades are becoming rocky and business is moving.   People you have hired come and go more quickly than ever before.   Consumers are more empowered and taking their business into new channels of distribution.   Nothing is like it once was.

Here are three things to do this month to get uncomfortable.   First, get out of your lab- (yes, you owner) and go call on the top 20 accounts that make up 80 percent of your business.   Become visible to your customers and find out personally how much has changed in your most important accounts.  

Second, plan an open house.   Put together a day of education on topics that are most concerning to your customers.   Transform your business from providing products to becoming a resource for solutions to problems. While in your office for education, give them a tour of your lab and run a few high-end jobs demonstrating your capabilities.   Chances are they really don’t appreciate the technology it takes to make a perfect lens.

Third, do some marketing.   Tell someone you are in business.   Reaffirm for them that you are a successful entity and they have made the right choice to be doing business with you.

Whatever you do, stop being a secret. Make some noise and fight for your market share.

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


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Lab Notes


The California Optical Laboratory Association (COLA) held its annual meeting April 24th and 25th in Temecula for California optical labs and their vendors. The educational sessions included: a panel on government regulatory affairs with experts Jeff Endres and Jason McElvaney of The Vision Council, and attorney Rick Van Arnam; a presentation by Dean Browell PhD on Using Social Media’s Powers for Good;   Mike Karlsrud’s discussion of Customer Service to Customer Experience, managing the Moment of Truth; and ended with a special presentation by Peter Shaw-McMinn, OD on how to be a better resource for your doctor by offering the latest technologies for ocular pathological conditions. COLA was founded in 1957 as a networking and educational event and last year became part of The Vision Council’s lab division.

COLA Presents Awards

At the opening reception of the California Optical Laboratory Association (COLA) on April 24th in Temecula, two awards were presented. The first award was delivered by COLA director, Lori Treadwell to Terry Yoneda of Younger Optics in appreciation of his 10 years of service as the COLA director. It was also announced that one of the annual student scholarships was to be renamed after Yoneda. The award will now be called The Vision Council/COLA Terry Yoneda Excellence in Ophthalmic Optics Award. The scholarship is given annually to an optometry student from one of three optometry schools: Ketchum University, Fullerton, Western University, Pomona, or U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley.   The annual Goodfellow Award, presented alternately to an optical lab/vendor COLA member for being a really “good fellow”, went to Satisloh’s Steele Young.

Carl Zeiss Upgrades Northwest Lab

Eye care professionals from throughout the western United States visited the Carl Zeiss Vision Northwest lab on March 20 to celebrate the completion of ZEISS’s two-year, $4 million upgrade of the facility. The extensive renovation of one of ZEISS’s flagship labs included state-of-the-art freeform surfacing and coating equipment, a rearrangement of the production floor to improve workflow, and a redesign of office space.   All lens jobs are now surfaced using freeform generators, and overall lab capacity has been more than doubled. The lab is staffed by 160 employees working three shifts Monday through Friday and supported by 10 dedicated customer service representatives. This lab is now capable of fabricating well over a million lenses per year. Over 100 eye care professionals and family members from six western states visited the lab in the Portland suburb of Clackamas, Oregon to see the results of the renovation.  

Rochester Optical Creates Digital Lens Designs for Use with Google Glass

Rochester Optical’s new patent-pending digital lens design is intended specifically for use with Google Glass, and can also be applied to other smart glass devices like the Vuzix M100 and others on the market.  These lenses are unique because they have an additional power in the area of the lens where the Google Glass wearer will be viewing the Heads up Display (HUD).  This lens reduces eye strain, eye fatigue and unwanted aberrations.  What's more unique is that though the right lens has been optimized where the user is seeing the HUD, the left lens has also been compensated as well for the wearer's left eye since both eyes work in unison. Additionally, Rochester Optical has developed lens carriers that mount securely on Google Glass. These lens carriers are part of their new Smart Frame collection. They are currently rolling this offering out to Eye Care Providers nationwide and are getting many international requests as well. It is important to note that Rochester Optical is not in partnership with Google, but are working independently on this project as a team of Google Glass explorers.


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Focus On...

Elite Optical

As branch manager of one of the first independent labs acquired by Essilor, Bette R. Kilburg sees herself as both a pioneer and a traditionalist.

“Elite is a family-type environment with strong, united team members. The growth and success of this lab is attributed to their dedication to achieving ‘the Goal’ - Provide exceptional service and product to our valued and respected customers,” said Kilburg, who joined Elite (then known as ProVision Group) in 1995, about five years before Essilor acquired the lab.

She is quick to place the credit for success on her team, and describes one of her own talents as knowing when to get out of the way of competent people. “What people want most is the opportunity to make a difference and for management to trust them to do their job well,” Kilburg noted.

She also praised Essilor for the stability and strength it has provided Elite Optical in the past decade and a half. “As a proud member of Essilor Laboratories of America, we share in providing the most innovative, advanced products available to a constantly changing visual environment,” said Kilburg, who lists Crizal PreVencia No-Glare, Varilux S Series, Crizal No-Glare Lenses,Transitions Signature 7, and Optifog as powerful competitive tools in the optical marketplace.

Like every successful lab, Elite has invested in new technologies such as in-house digital processing, robotic surfacing, and a full-service finish department with custom edging. You could say coating is the El Rancho Branch’s “thing,” offering multiple AR options that include the entire Crizal family and Sharpview, and a variety of VSP-approved custom coat options available with tint, and uncut or edged. The new technology has not replaced skilled workers; rather, it’s made them more valuable to Kilburg.

“For those that have been around long enough to have watched the optical industry evolve, the need for the ‘craftsman’ has almost become a thing of the past. Luckily for us, we still have this expertise around,” she noted.

Kilburg views automation’s impact on the workforce as mostly positive: “We have actively cross-trained for many years, increasing operational stability; by having employees we could move from station-to-station, even between departments to fill-in.   Automation provided an opportunity to move headcount to other areas of need.”

As for the future, Kilburg envisions more of the same. She predicted that, backed by Essilor, Elite will lead by example with products that please practitioners and patients.

“For the rest of 2014,” she said, “keep your eye on Crizal Prevencia, Transitions Signature 7, and national promotion of Custom Coat AR.”


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

LabTalk Spotlight


By Jim Misco

Our industry continues to evolve from a cottage industry to one with large multi-national companies integrating all channels of distribution. We are also facing multiple challenges on the managed care front with the Affordable Care Act driving up health care cost for some small businesses. Additionally, the change in the delivery models in the eye care portion is taking work from many independent labs across the country. Other pressures come from the proliferation of ECP alliances/buying groups, internet commerce and the overall commoditization of our products and services.

While there is little that can be done to eliminate the negative effects these may have on our business, there are some things we CAN control and our focus needs to be shifted in the direction of things we CAN change. Here are some ideas for changing the impossible to the possible.


The benefits to an ECP of belonging to a buying group cannot be disputed. Obviously there are the benefits of more attractive prices on frames and contact lenses, as well as lab work in some cases. There are also less quantifiable benefits of belonging to a group, such as the feeling of security in knowing you are part of something bigger than your own practice. The problem for the independent wholesale lab is that if the doctor buying group has a lab contract with a large national entity, their lab work is directed to those contract labs. This drives a wedge between the local lab and their customers. The independent lab has little power to fight back because they only sell one of the four things the doctor wants to buy…lab work. Labs generally don’t offer frames, contact lenses and other ancillary products/services.

At Optical Synergies we have partnered with The Alliance BG, which is owned by the same parent company as Optical Synergies. The Alliance, which does not direct the lab work of its members, is a buying group made up of over 2,500 optometrists and ophthalmologists across the country. With the Lab Partner Program, the OS member can use The Alliance BG to expose their ECP customers to those same cost saving benefits across ALL product lines, without having their lab work redirected.

Find out more ways to change the impossible to the possible, read the entire article at


Tracing Points Good Things Happen Weekly

Make What You Say, Pay!

No More Cold Calls

A company tells its salespeople to do their research—to gather every piece of sales intelligence, exploit all of their social media channels, and find out a little bit about the prospect and the trigger events at his company. Then, all they need to do to get the meeting is call or email with a pithy, targeted message. Sure, that might work. But …

You’re Getting Colder... Many salespeople mistakenly believe that if they reach out to prospects armed with relevant research and data, they’re not cold calling. After all, thanks to social media, they know who their prospects are, where they used to work, and where they went to school. They even have a few “friends” in common on LinkedIn. The “connected” logic plays out like this: We’re connected online, so we have a relationship. 

Nope! You just have information, not a connection. That sales call—or email, or even knock on the door— is as cold as an ice cube sliding down your back.

 You’re Not Getting Any Warmer...  Any attempt to contact a sales prospect who doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you amounts to cold calling. There’s nothing "warm" about it.  

Cold calling doesn't work.  It wastes your time and your company’s money, and annoys your prospects. Forget social intelligence. Relationship intelligence is what it’s all about.

Now You’re Getting Hot... What if you could reach out to your sales prospects and guarantee results? Yes, guarantee. All you have to do is get a referral introduction to your decision-maker, and you'll walk right into the C-Suite. The TAS Group asked executives why they would meet with a salesperson. The No. 1 reason? A referral from a trusted source.

Referral selling is the only sales strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. Why would you waste your time doing anything else? Think about how you spend your time and the type of payoff you want. If your goal is increasing qualified sales leads, get that introduction and clinch your referral sale!

Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling. To learn more, visit .

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

New Products

New Internal Free-Form Design from Seiko

SEIKO Superior is an advanced, precisely customized dual patented 100 percent internal free-form design from SEIKO.   SEIKO Superior is an “ultra-personalized lens” that starts with three unique designs—Superior B for outstanding balance; Superior N for comfortable near vision; and Superior F for Clear Far Vision— that are prioritized to match the patient’s lifestyle.  Once the patient’s ideal visual needs are determined ECPs can choose from 11 different corridor lengths (8mm to 18mm), accommodating nearly every size and shape frame, even the smallest fashion friendly eyewear. Superior also offers 51 options for the near zone inset (0mm to 5.0mm) and 21 options for frame pantoscopic tilt (0° to 20°) to completely personalize their lenses.   For more information contact Seiko Optical Products of America at 800-235-5367 or visit their Website at

Shamir Adds New Materials to Product Mix

Shamir added Transitions Signature VII, Transitions Vantage and BluTech to their product mix.   They have also expanded the prism range in their Freeform line to 10 diopters.   The new materials come in a wide variety of indexes and treatments to accommodate each patient’s prescription and lifestyle needs.   Shamir Single Vision blanks are ideal for single vision use and are compatible with all Freeform designs.   For more information visit the Shamir Website at .

New Consumable from Coburn

Coburn’s new X-Edge pads are designed for general use lens edging applications including uncoated, hard coated and standard AR lenses. Coated on both sides with a high cohesive strength synthetic rubber PSA, the high-density cross-linked EVA copolymer foam creates a pad that can resist high shearing forces while still providing easy and clean removal from the lens. X-Edge pads are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate a large variety of finish blocks. Product is available worldwide, and online for US customers at

For more information contact the Coburn Lab Works division directly at (866-450-0412) or by calling Coburn’s main number (800-COBURN-1) and asking for Lab Works.


Santinelli Offers New Titanium Pad Arm Kit

Complementing its new collection of optical tools, supplies and working aides, Santinelli International now offers a simple and effective way to add nose bridge support to plastic frames with its Titanium Pad Arm Kit. The addition of nose pad arms is a perfect solution for patients with low nose profiles who prefer wearing plastic frames. The pad arms raise the frame, allow for greater adjustment of pantoscopic tilt and, most importantly, prevent the frame from continuously sliding down the nose. See the Titanium Pad Arm Kit in action by viewing the video at For more information call Santinelli at   800.644.3343 and press option 6.

Harpoon those Lenses

The quality of Rimlon cord eyewear is so good that it is very difficult to free or insert a lens using the old fashioned hooking tool.   Western Optical has developed a new tool that lets you slide between the cord and the lens with ease. The Rimlon Lens Harpoon can be seen in action on the Western Optical Website at (Western Optical LIVE! page 26). For more information contact Western Optical at 800.423.3294.



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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