VSP’s Chris Graves stands in its Houston lab which it opened in the summer.


In an effort to grow the sun Rx market, Shamir Insight Inc. is offering a fashion-focused sun system, known as Shamir X3 which stands for Xperience, Xpression, and Xtreme. Shamir’s X3 prescription sun package lets patients select just about any pair of frames in combination with Shamir’s progressive and single vision designs. It aims to allow ECPs to offer their patients a complete solution that includes Rx lenses, proprietary mirrors, lens engravings, and more. Shamir is introducing a new edging lab in Los Angeles, CA, to provide specialized services to enhance any Shamir X3 order. “Our new X3 package will allow eyecare practices to provide a sun Rx offering for even the toughest prescriptions and increase their prescription sunwear sales,” says Mark Becker, vice president of strategic partnerships and marketing. “The X3 promise is to deliver fashion, state-of-the-art optics, and a consistent product,” he adds.
VSP Optics Group is opening a VSPOne Optical Technology Center in Fulsom, CA, at the end of the year. This will be the fourth lab it has opened this year – after Baltimore, MD; Houston, TX; and Charlotte, NC – for a total of 12. The new facility will be 80,000 sq. ft. and will focus on the digital manufacturing process and coatings. The center will contain a mass manufacturing machine which will have its first application in optical.
Essilor of America, Inc.’s Xperio UV™ polarized sun lenses will now be in every pair of TAG Heuer Avant- Garde prescription and plano eyewear, the two companies have announced. VisionCraft  Lab in Walled Lake, MI, has been chosen as the exclusive lab to make the lenses because of its experience in high-wrap frames, said Pierre Bertrand, Essilor’s vice president of marketing. TAG Heuer products are sold by 2,400 ECPs in the U.S. and this exclusive, global partnership will give their patients a consistent product each time, explained Miguel Lopez, president, Logos of America, distributor of TAG Heuer Avant-Garde Eyewear. The TAG Heuer logo will be on each Xperio UV lens that initially will appear in its watersport, high mountain, and HD driving frames. “We’re offering fashion, tremendous optics, and unrivaled protection for the eye,” Bertrand concluded.
Robert Sypniewski has become president of Chicago-based Opticote after 22 years on the management team. He is considered to be a leading authority on thin-film coatings. Sypniewski has taken over from the late Edwin Ellefsen who passed away on July 8, 2014 after battling cancer. Opticote is a thin-film coatings facility with products ranging from a full line of custom mirror coatings to AR coating technologies.

Nathan Brown, managing director at Wind Point Partners, poses with Mia Hamm, Coppertone Polarized Lenses brand ambassador.


Wind Point Partners, a 30-year old Chicago-based private equity investment firm with $2.8 billion in commitments, has acquired Vision-Ease Lens of Ramsey, MN. Vision-Ease ended up in bankruptcy court in 2004 before it was sold to its previous owner Insight Equity, a private equity firm in Dallas, TX. Wind Point Partners tends to buy companies with sales in the range of $100 million to $500 million.  “They buy a platform company, and Vision-Ease is a platform in our industry and then look to grow it,” Doug Hepper, president and CEO of Vision-Ease, told OLP. “So they’re looking for solid companies with solid management teams and good growth potential, and they looked at our industry and said, okay, well, Vision-Ease fits all of that.”Being previously owned by private equity, there was no sales process. Hepper explained: “They approached our owners and said, we’re interested in the company.  I knew the Wind Point managers from past experience. They knew me. They followed the company.  They talked to Insight and came to a deal that I think is an excellent deal for both sides and basically they bring fresh capital, fresh energy, fresh ideas to a management team in a company that’s very solid.” He added that the intention is for the management team to stay in place. “In fact, the management team was given the opportunity to invest back into the company with them as co-investors and I believe almost everybody who was given that opportunity has done so,” he said.


Rochester Optical has announced a new collaboration with Epson America, Inc. as a recommended prescription solution provider for the Moverio BT-200 smart glasses. Rochester has designed a Smart Frame for the BT-200 to carry patent-pending Smart GOLD lenses specifically optimized for this device. The Moverio BT-200 from Epson has multiple applications.

Soccer star Mia Hamm posed for pictures at a Vision-Ease meet and greet in Las Vegas.

HOYA Vision Care, North America is investing heavily in its new Intercompany Manufacturing Center (IMC) in Dallas, TX, which will process its first lens in January 2015. It is spending $15 million upgrading an existing lab to become a 100,000-sq.-ft. facility that will manufacture and process lenses 24/7. “Investing in the IMC and related technology not only expands capacity, it also plays a major role in turn time,” says Barney Dougher, president. “Every consideration regarding environmental responsibility was incorporated in the design to ensure a green facility.” In addition, HOYA has moved its import and distribution center to the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas from its warehouse in Torrance, CA. It has also opened its newest laboratory in Linthicum, MD.
MEI System, Inc. has opened a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It will bring technical support to the company’s customers in South America and serve as a hub for replacement parts and tools. Headquartered in Valbrembo, Northern Italy, MEI already has branches in Chicago and Hong Kong. “The growing number of customers and machines in the South American market made the opening of a branch here a must in order to offer customer assistance and provide technical support,” said Stefano Sonzogni, president and technical director.
QC Optical, with labs at Spokane, WA, and Portland, OR, has been bought by Essilor of America, Inc. Essilor intends to close QC Optical’s two facilities and merge it with another Essilor lab in Portland, Opti-Craft, Inc. QC Optical is owned by Bruce Hengel and Jim McAndrew and they are expected to join Opti-Craft.

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