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A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- January 2016 -

Dollars & Sense

Make What You Say Pay

Lab Notes

New Products


Dollars & Sense

Change or Risk Becoming Irrelevant

Michael Karlsrud

Are you really going to make it a New Year?  Or, will it be the same year repeated?

It’s important for all of us to ask this question because the time for evaluating how we do business is upon us.  It’s been talked about for over a decade—the rate of change and our need to change how we do business to stay relevant and competitive.  Time is running out to make proactive change.

As 2015 came to a close, it is important to reflect on what actually transpired over the previous 12 months, and to critically think about the impact it will have on our own business.  For instance, we saw a huge increase in the number of doctors join alliance groups.  Over 40 percent of all doctors have some kind of membership in an alliance.  Next, we saw manage care companies like Davis, EyeMed and others, adding material management into their service offerings.  In addition, large retailers are now forming partnerships with CVS Pharmacy and Macy’s and placing store fronts within their footprint. Finally, we have seen very large manufacturing companies buy the doctor alliances to a control larger piece of the pie.  Where, as an independent laboratory owner, are you?

The easiest thing to do is hope that we can hang on through all this change.  The hard thing to do is change.

Rest assured, this will impact your customers business in the near future and your business be impacted as well.  The struggle for relevance in 2016 will amp up to new levels as the consumer is lured away from traditional eye care distribution to online, kiosks, pop-up stores, and mass retailers, leaving you and the independent eye care professional out of the traditional loop.

Ninety-eight percent of all great ideas for change fail because they are never started. 

As this New Year begins, let it not be like the classic movie “Groundhog Day.”  Do something this year that is equally dynamic and dramatic as what is happening in our industry.  Playing it safe could be the riskiest decision you make all year.

It just makes good dollars and sense not to become invisible in the marketplace.

Good Selling.

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




Make What You Say, Pay!

The Simplest Way to Win Business

Ann Miller

Fast Company rolled out its list of 20 predictions for the next 20 years. The digital and scientific predictions were not surprising, but what was likely surprising  for some was #12. Tucked between #11 “Medical Training Will Be Re-written” and #13 “Entrepreneurship Will Not Be For Everyone.  #12 was…

“Human Empathy Will Be Central”  “It’s not just doctors who can improve their bedside manners.  We can all stand to listen and respond with more sensitivity.  In fact, as machine learning and artificial intelligence insinuate themselves more deeply into manufacturing and the workplace, the one arena that will never be usurped by technology is human-to-human communications.

That should not be surprising to anyone. People like to work, live, and play with people who understand them. Always was. Always will be.

What Does Empathy Mean in Selling? I take it to mean the following:

• Paying full attention to what another person is saying, rather than just waiting for them to finish talking, so you can speak

• Listening, so that your comments build on what the other person said rather than veer off in another direction

• Noticing what is not being said, but is still being communicated in body language, facial expression, and tone of voice: fear, concern, skepticism, sadness, pride, joy, etc.

• Respecting another person's right to different views or emotions and trying to understand them

• Responding appropriately to those emotions and views, even when it takes you off your track

Empathy throughout the sales process binds people together from initial conversation through demos or presentations to agreement and implementation. It doesn't mean you have to agree with the other person; it means you want to be agreeable and respectful in how you interact with them.

It is Not Rocket Science   Long before Fast Company was on the scene; John D. Rockefeller recognized the importance of the human factor in business and said, “I will pay more for the ability to get along with people than for any other skill.”  In our fast moving world, it is easy to forget. this basic human factor.    Then, we wonder why clients find it so easy to leave us.

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




Lab Notes

Expert Optics Hosts Class of 2018


Expert Optics, an independent wholesale optical laboratory, hosted the entire class of 2018 from the Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) of Chicago, the week of November 30. The annual field trip is an ICO tradition that began in 2010.  Geoffrey Goodfellow, OD, Associate Professor at the Illinois College of Optometry, coordinated the 153 future optometrists’ schedules spread over four days, while Expert Optics provided transportation, lunch and guided tours. They learned and witnessed overall lens processing including digital freeform, premium anti-reflective treatments, specialty finishing and the latest in ophthalmic products that reduce blue light. There also was some insight provided on the business side of independent optometry and how it relates to the optical industry. 

Prop 65 'Safe Harbor List' Update


As you may recall, The Vision Council reported in May 2015 that the State of California "relisted" BpA on its Prop 65 list of substances known to the state to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive toxicity. The chemical is of note to members of the optical industry because it is used as a starting material in the manufacture of polycarbonate. The Prop 65 warning requirement for BpA takes effect one year after the chemical is added to the list. Thus, companies have until May 11, 2016 to determine if their products sold in California contain BpA, or if their California workplaces will expose employees to BpA.

The Vision Council has been monitoring these developments very closely, and we were told that we could expect by the end of 2015 that the state agency with jurisdiction over Prop 65 - the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) - would publish a "safe harbor" list for products using BpA. The "safe harbor" list would determine whether or not chemical exposures above the safe harbor level would trigger a Prop 65 warning label on its products packaging, or if a sign was needed at the workplace.

The list has been delayed and it is OEHHA's intention to have one in place before the May 11, 2016 enforcement date. As soon as  any information pertaining to Prop 65 or BpA is released, The Vision Council will relay that information to its members.

Robert Mueller, Mueller Optical, Passes Away


Robert “Bob” Mueller, founder of Mueller Optical Company in St. Louis, Missouri, died on Dec. 1. He was 83 years-old.

Mueller founded Mueller Optical Company, an independent wholesale laboratory, in 1978. In November, 1999, it was acquired by ORI (Optical Resources Group Inc.), which was sold to Hoya Vision Care the following year.

Mueller was also the first president of The Optical Laboratories Association, and a founding member of the OLA Optical Pioneers Hall of Fame.

He was the husband of the late Laverne Mueller. Survivors include a son, Eric Mueller, a daughter-in-law Lisa Mueller, a daughter, Lesa Klein and son-in-law Carl  Klein, and grandchildren Kevin, Max, Weston and Mia Klein. He is predeceased by his wife, Laverne Mueller and son, Kurt Mueller.

Both Eric Mueller and Carl Klein are currently employed by Hoya Vision Care of North America and are carrying on the optical wholesale tradition with Hoya Vision Care at the company’s St. Louis, Mo. facility. Lesa Klein, OD also continues the family tradition as a professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis School of Optometry.




New Products

Multi-FLEX Satisloh's Powerful New Polisher

Satisloh’s automated Multi-FLEX soft tool polisher only uses a single tool for all standard processes, eliminating process steps and complexity.  The tool features a lifetime of up to 14.000 sec. The standard tool covers working ranges of 0-14 diopters and 55-85 mm diameters. With three independently-controlled polishing chambers, three lenses can be polished simultaneously, regardless of geometric or material differences. Because every polishing chamber has two tool spindles—for a second polishing step or for doubling the time between tool exchanges (when using both tool receptions for the standard process). For more information visit

New MicroTool Line from Western Optical

Western Optical’s #8000 Series “MicroTools” are designed for professionals “on-the-go.”  Big on function,  small in size, the average length of the micro tools are  just five inches. The tools comply with TSA regulations and can be carried aboard aircraft.  MicroTools come in five different configurations: double Delrin jaw plier, combination round and Delrin jaw plier, chain nose plier, nose pad adjusting plier, pantoscopic tilt plier, nose pad popping plier and nose pad inserting plier. MicroTools can be seen on the Western Website, where you can watch a live demonstration (Western Optical LIVE! page 8).

New Product in SunRx Line

VISION EASE has broadened its SunRx product line with new SunRx polycarbonate SFSV 75mm blue lenses. SunRx blue lenses are available in 4.00, 6.25 and 8.50 base curves. Blue lenses are ideal for active consumers looking to enhance visibility for tennis and golf, and improve vision in hazy and snowy conditions.  The full SunRx SFSV line also includes gray, brown and classic green colors in a variety of base curves. All SunRx lenses feature 100 percent protection from UV rays while eliminating 99 percent of all reflected glare. For more information, visit





7 BIG Things That Will ROCK Your World

Judith Lee

Listen! There are vibrations in the distance, and in some cases, a recognizable rumble. Like the enormous boulder that Indiana Jones outran in Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are at least seven BIG things that are coming straight at optical labs, and may change the industry as we know it.

“It is clear that technological advancements will force change.  Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, along with miniaturization will be key areas that will change things for our industry over the near term.  Learning about these technologies, their advantages and benefits to the practice and the patients we serve will be critical for our long and short term success,” noted Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, Dipl, senior vice president of customer development, Essilor of America. 

Here are the areas where we can expect the most change going forward: Point of Dispensing Lenses, 3D Printing, Vision Plans and Health Insurance, Big and Bigger labs, Lenses Evolve, Online Shopping, and Far Out Technology. To learn more about these seven areas of change, read the entire article at


Christie Walker, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Christie is the Editor of LabTalk and a contributor to Vision Monday. She covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Christie at [email protected].

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