The Vision Council’s COLA (California Optical Laboratories Association) Spring Meeting was held April 26 to 27 at the Temecula Creek Inn in Temecula, CA. By all accounts, the event was a success, providing opportunities for nearly 100 attendees to network, reconnect with friends, learn about current events that affect the industry and businesses in general, and as always, there was golf!

Phil Epperson and Steve Sutherlin, Lab Division liaison, present COLA’s Good Fellow Award to David Rips.

Day one started with lunch on the patio before the annual scramble golf tournament at which 40 golfers had the chance to practice their skills while enjoying time with friends. Vendors that sponsored golf balls and holes were: Ocuco, Schneider Optical Machinery, Younger Optics, Essilor, Ultra Optics, Satisloh, DAC Technologies and VSP.

The evening featured a cocktail hour and banquet at which COLA honored David Rips, president and CEO of Younger Optics, with the Good Fellow Award, given annually to someone who actively contributes to the industry. (See One-to-One with David Rips, p4.) Rips was honored for his contribution as an innovative lensmaker responsible for products such as NuPolar polarized lenses, Transitions Drivewear, Camber lenses and Trilogy. He also is the majority owner of IOT, which is considered one of the most innovative lens design companies in the world.

Phil Epperson, COLA’s special events coordinator who was involved in creating the award, said, “We are looking for the ‘doer’ not the ‘taker’: An individual who participated and supported events and activities that will grow the industry.” Herman Lieberman was the first recipient in 1981, and since then the list includes many “movers and shakers” in the industry. Friday morning sessions were designed to help all companies — with a special emphasis on California — to deal with complex issues that affect the businesses of the lab managers and owners in attendance. Topics included human resource issues, quality improvement, hiring and retaining the best employees and several industry-specific presentations.

Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council, welcomed everyone and started the meetings with a presentation on what the organization is doing for the industry, highlighted by a new video. Also presenting from The Vision Council were Rick Van Arnam, who gave a government and regulatory affairs update that included the first California Prop 65 “Notice of Violation” case, Prop 65’s new labeling requirements and an FDA lab registration issue.

Michael Vitale, senior technical director of The Vision Council, provided an update on The Vision Council’s Safe User Determination application and a variety of ANSI and ISO updates. Paul Wade demonstrated EPIC, The Vision Council’s new electronic progressive identifier catalog (see page 15). In addition, there was an update about the Think About Your Eyes campaign, including a look at the new television commercials.

Always a favorite of the group, Michael Karlsrud, president of The Karlsrud Co., gave a presentation entitled “Danger in the Comfort Zone.” This focused on employee engagement and the pitfalls of keeping unengaged employees on the payroll. Hedley Lawson, managing partner of Aligned Growth Partners, discussed “Weeding Through” California’s new recreational marijuana laws. Lawson also spoke about sexual assault and the “Me Too” movement along with California’s new employment salary history ban. Bill Oakes and Sabine Rentschar from the American Society for Quality presented on Continuous Improvement.

“The COLA meeting presents the perfect mix of material between legal updates, process technology and leadership strategies,” said Jeff Konstanzer, director of operations, Costco Optical #908. “The sharing of ideas and networking are priceless in order to continue thriving in our industry.”

Anyone with questions or interest in attending next year’s meeting, April 25 to 26, 2019, may contact Steve Sutherlin, The Vision Council’s Lab Division liaison, at

Lori Treadwell, COLA Liaison, works with the COLA board to plan the organization’s annual meeting. She also works with labs on COLA’s outreach programs to help those in underserved communities.


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