Lab Innovator of 2014: Timeline

“As a child, I would get a milk crate to stand on and put it in front of the polisher,” Mary Ann Zappas, Financial Controller.

We would take the school bus from whatever school we were in, as close as it would get to wherever the lab was located, and then walk the rest of the way, and we all began finishing the day’s production, cleaning the machines, and mopping the floors,” Joe Seibert, Director of Operations.

“We would run the surface machines, put curves on laps, make eyeglasses, and fill positions on the production line. I would brush the white residual powder off the block with a toothbrush,” Steve Seibert, CEO.

 1969  William (Bill) Seibert, who previously worked for American Optical, set up the lab in McKees Rock, PA, in a 250-sq.-ft. storeroom that used to house a barbershop. He had $3,500 for machines and slept on a table while building the business. He began by grinding wholesale, uncut glass lenses followed by the manufacture of uncut plastic lenses.

His wife Madeline, a former beautician, took care of bookkeeping. She would run deliveries in the back of an old Chevy truck with a rusted floor in the early days.

Their three children, Mary Ann, financial controller, Joe, director of operations, and Steve, CEO, all began working in the lab at the age of 12.

 1979  The lab added finishing equipment to edge and finish its own ground lenses. Next, the Seiberts added polycarbonate lens equipment and its own coating line. Then, it introduced Transitions Optical, Inc. lenses.
1991  Won Transitions Lab of the Year award.
 1997  The family bought 10 acres and built a 30,000-sq.-ft. lab in its current location in the west end of Pittsburgh at 260 Bilmar Drive, Crafton, PA.
1998  It became a Varilux distributor.

2000  Three Rivers Optical began a shift towards new technology.

2002  Bill Seibert retired.

2003  Moved to Digital CNC fabrication with a DAC lathe. Free-form manufacturing followed soon after.

2004  Three Rivers introduced Shamir Insight, Inc. products.

2005  Joe Seibert developed TR “O” SEG, the first digitally surfaced, free-form-lined bifocal.

2009  Created See More digital lenses, its own high-value lenses at less-than-brand prices.

2014  Madeline passed away on February 3. Three Rivers Optical is the only remaining family-run, independent, wholesale lab in Pittsburgh. It became VSP Optics Group’s UNITY Independent Lab of the Year.


Leave A Reply