Optical Synergies members shared insights at their recent annual National Educational Conference.
The concept of being an individual has been the genesis of our industry. But times have changed, and most of us have learned that by joining forces with others with similar needs greatly increases the chances for success.
This little industry of ours has spawned a number of organizations promoting the self interests of wholesale labs, such as Lightbenders Inc., NEXUS Vision Group and OSI (Optical Services International), all now defunct with their members having been mostly absorbed by lens manufacturers. We have also had product-specific organizations such as the AR Council and the Polycarbonate Council dedicated to collectively promoting the benefits of their products.
Among the remaining such organizations serving the optical lab community are Global Optics (see “Membership Has Its Privileges,” January 2017 OLP), Optical Supply Co-Op and Optical Synergies.
Optical Synergies recently held its annual National Educational Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, which I attended in order to learn more about the organization and what it provides to its members. With full access to the program and its members provided by group director Jim Misco, I had two initial impressions: This was generally a younger crowd, a positive for our industry, and the attendees were really involved, a positive for them.
The formal educational program consisted of presentations, gentle reminders, on business topics and organizational disciplines that could, and should, be used by all.
Like most groups of this type, its initial concept was to be a buying group, leveraging the combined purchasing power of its members to negotiate “preferred” pricing from vendors, but this quickly evolved into much more.
In addition to offering its members access to over 30 lens, frame and consumable vendors, Optical Synergies’ program soon grew to include agreements with Dell, Staples, FWC for equipment financing and TransFirst for credit card processing, among others.
Optical Synergies entered into an agreement with Global Optics in 2015 to also provide lenses and some frame products, resulting in reduced pricing and consolidated ordering and shipping. Global stocks a vast array of lenses from most major suppliers, so all orders are consolidated into one package with no minimums, for one overnight delivery. The ease of use and the significant shipping and labor savings associated with receiving and unpacking just one package draws rave reviews.
Speaking with several Optical Synergies members during as well as after the conference I was able to get a deeper understanding of the benefits of the organization. Among the members who provided me insight into the organization were: Chris Brundies of AccuLab in Sycamore, IL; Stewart Cage of Eye Save Optical in Bogalusa, LA; Don Kirman of
K Optical in Hummelstown, PA; Ray Scheuerman of Central Optical Lab in Clarkston, WA; and Tom Schroeder of Schroeder Optical in Roanoke, VA.
Their comments were surprisingly consistent. The fellowship of being around like-minded people, the networking opportunities with other lab owners, information sharing and saving some money along the way were all very valuable. The annual conferences allow these benefits to be experienced firsthand, and face to face, with fellow members.
The “much more” referenced above was the ability to talk, relate and share with others in the same boat, and the information sharing was quite honest and open ranging from equipment experiences, vendor relations, marketing successes (and failures), operating statistics, legal issues and even P&L information.