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The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

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The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

LOVE IS IN SIGHT

7 EYECARE PRO
COUPLES TELL HOW
THEY WORK TOGETHER
(AND KEEP THE
ROMANCE ALIVE)

A

s an eyecare professional, you’re used to looking deeply into people’s eyes
— many, many times every day. But for most of us, somewhere along the line,
gazing into another’s eyes is a labor of love, not work. And when business and
pleasure meet, that can be the most fortunate love story of all.

The 2015 annual office romance survey by workplace
intelligence company Vault.com found that 10 percent
of its respondents met their spouse or partner at work,
and nearly six in 10 report they’ve had a romance with
a colleague. Workplace romances were once widely
frowned upon, but only 5 percent of the people Vault
surveyed disapprove these days. Another interesting
statistic: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that
optometrists have one of the lowest divorce rates of
any profession. It was a mere 4 percent in 2000.

Love knows no season nor reason, but in honor
of this month’s big holiday, INVISION would like to
salute seven sets of visionary Valentines. Read on to see
how they met, how they make it work — and what you
can learn from them if cupid’s arrow (or maybe match.
com) ends up bringing you a fellow ECP sweetheart.

 

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The Big Story: Love Is in Sight
Dr. Katie
McElvaine
and Scot
McElvaine
relax with
their daughter
Grace.

DR. KATIE
McELVAINE
AND SCOT
McELVAINE
SPRINGFIELD
FAMILY VISION,
SPRINGFIELD, MO

The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

atie Robertson and
Scot McElvaine actually
sat next to each other
in anatomy class in high
school, but they didn’t
realize it until years later
when they saw a yearbook
photo. Katie’s family has
lived for generations in
Springfield, MO, where her
parents own an antique
store. Scot’s family moved
there in 1993 and bought a
jewelry store. “Small business
is in our blood,” Katie
says.

LOVE TIPS

DO play to each
other’s strengths,
and be patient with
each other.

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DON’T step on
each other’s toes,
and try not to micromanage
each other.

The couple began dating in 2009 and Scot proposed
a year later in Hawaii, where Katie was doing an
externship rotation. They married in Springfield
in 2011 and have a 1-year-old daughter, Grace. Now
they have gone into business together, too, as the
owners of Springfield Family Vision, which opened
just before Thanksgiving last year.


Katie is an OD and Scot has an MBA. He previously
worked as a supervisor with Expedia; before that,
he helped out in his parents’ store. “I have a retail
background,” he says. “I was ready to do something
on my own, not necessarily in optical. It was the
right time to take a risk.”


For four years, Katie was an optometrist at a
group private practice in town. “There was a structural
change at my previous employer which made
it easier for me to leave,” she says. When working
for different employers, they were both doing shift
work and rushing home to see each other. Working together, especially with a small child, is a change
that simply feels right.


The McElvaines began setting up their practice
last August. They gutted a computer store and hired
an architect. “It was a mad rush,” Katie says. “But we
got everything done in 78 days.” With just the two of
them on staff, Katie runs the clinical side and Scot
does everything else. “She’s the brains and I’m the
muscle!” he says.

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“We’re doing such different roles,” Katie says.
“But at the end of the day you’re going home with
that person and you want to live a happy life.” Some
days, their parents help mind Grace. Other times,
she goes to a day care center that shares a parking
lot with their business. After closing shop, they
can walk over together to pick her up. “We need
to remember why we’re doing this,” Scot explains.
“We’re doing it for each other and for our family.”


 


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

DR. JASON
MacLAUGHLIN AND
DR. LISA GENOVESE
INSIGHT EYECARE/LICATA
OPTICAL, BUFFALO, NY


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

aughter is important in relationships,
and although Jason
MacLaughlin was a class clown,
Lisa Genovese fell for him. The couple —
she’s originally from Buffalo, NY, and he’s
from Shawano, WI — met socially during
their first year at Illinois College of Optometry
in 1998. Although there were 170 students
in their class, “everyone became close
real fast,” Lisa says.

LOVE TIPS

DO rally behind
each other and
help each other out.

DON’T butt
into the
other’s
responsibilities.

They worked together during rotation and then
again for 12 years at the same ophthalmology practice
in Amherst, NY. In December 2015, they opened their
own practice together. “We bought a two-location
practice owned by an optician,” Jason says. Their
new business is called Insight Eyecare/Licata Optical
with one location in Williamsville and another in
Lockport, both suburbs of Buffalo.


“People always say to me ‘you don’t want to work
together,’ but I’ve always found it fine,” Lisa says. “It’s
nice to rely on each other and bounce ideas off each
other. We use our iPhones to send each other pics to
get a second opinion.” Both have different talents,
too. Jason is more focused on optics and Lisa on
diseases. She says he’s good at billing as well. “I feel
like we’re different at what we’re strong at and so our
responsibilities complement each other,” she adds.


The couple have two children, a 9-year-old son and
a daughter who’s 7. Owning their own practice now
means Lisa can pick up their children from school
and do more activities with them. “It’s important
to enjoy life,” Jason says. “Don’t take work home
too much!”


 


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

CHRISTOPHER
CAIN AND ADAM
HOFFBERG
OJO OPTIQUE, SANTA FE
AND ALBUQUERQUE, NM


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

ou know it’s love when someone
will leave a job selling luxury
real estate in Los Angeles to
join a fledgling optical shop. Two years ago,
Adam Hoffberg and his younger brother,
Jed, decided to move back to Santa Fe, NM,
where they’d lived as kids, to realize their
dream of opening an optical store. “We
dragged Chris back with us!” Adam says of
the man he met in L.A. 14 years ago. “He
has joined the ranks of the optical world.”

LOVE TIPS

DO split responsibilities
so you can
excel at different things.

DON’T hold a
grudge when there’s
a disagreement … and
don’t take work home
with you.

Adam has been an optician for over 20 years and
his brother Jed has been one for 14. The two brothers
and Chris are co-owners of Ojo Optique, which they
opened in Santa Fe in 2013 and expanded to a second
location in Albuquerque last July. Adam and Jed had
previously worked in Santa Fe, where they knew
there was an opportunity for an optical shop that was
completely independent. Ojo Optique carries such
designers as Anne & Valentin, l.a.Eyeworks, Theo and
Oliver Goldsmith, and it uses only independent labs.


“Chris brings a great business background to our
partnership,” Adam says. Chris takes care of technology
and finance and works with Adam at the Santa
Fe location, while Jed runs the Albuquerque store.
“As a couple, working together can be challenging,
but for the most part it works,” Adam says. “We have
great communication skills with each other and we
have similar goals — in life and in business. We enjoy
spending time together, which is key.”


 


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight
Dr. Kelly
Raies
onstage with
her husband
Dr. Michael
“Jules” Raies
singing her
signature
song AC/
DC’s “Dirty
Deeds Done
Dirt Cheap.”
Photo by Julie
Bergonz

DR. KELLY RAIES
AND DR. MICHAEL
“JULES” RAIES
PORTSMOUTH VISION CENTER,
PORTSMOUTH, OH


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

ancing by the Nile, the ladies
love his style … — Steve Martin,
King Tut


Even though (or maybe
because!) Michael Raies was
dressed like an Egyptian for a college talent
show, Kelly Carson agreed to go out with
him. Michael (aka “Jules”) was a freshman
and Kelly was a sophomore at the Ohio State
University College of Optometry when he
took the stage at a talent show to channel
Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live skit —
and the rest is not-so-ancient history.

LOVE TIPS

DO complement
each other in your
work duties.

DON’T let
things get
stale. Have
an exciting hobby
to keep things
fresh.

The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

College was where Michael’s band,
Bad Habits, the EyeDocs of Rock, came
together in 1987. “Kelly supports my
music habit,” Michael says. In fact,
she’s even joined the band onstage at its
eyecare conference gigs. But, he adds,
“I don’t think any of my patients know
we’re these closet rockers!”


Kelly and Michael married in 1990
and worked together for a year in Pittsburgh, PA,
before joining her dad in his Portsmouth, OH,
practice, which they bought in 1996. (Dr. Raymond
Carson still sees patients.) Kelly and Michael share
office space as well as their life outside the practice.
“A lot of people think it would be hard but it works
for us,” Kelly says. “It’s great and we enjoy it. I share
my time between administrative work and seeing
patients. Mike shares all the responsibilities with me.”


“We both complement each other well,” Michael
adds. “I can see how some people might butt heads
especially if they are both trying to run a practice
and not willing to compromise. But you have to
be open-minded and careful not to let business
disagreements have an effect on your personal
relationship.”


Over the years, Michael has worked
more hours at the practice than Kelly,
especially when they were raising
their three daughters (now ages 20,
18 and 16). The family travels together
when the band performs at shows.
“Our whole family loves music,” Kelly
says, “but we keep it separate from
the office.”


 


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight
Dr. Cory
Partlow and
Dr. Jennifer
Partlow,
here with
their son
Harrison,
are balancing
life as
optometrists
and
parents.

DR. CORY PARTLOW AND
DR. JENNIFER PARTLOW
BLACK MOUNTAIN FAMILY EYECARE,
BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC

LOVE TIPS

DO divide up office
responsibilities
between each spouse
so there are fewer
points of contention.

DON’T avoid taking
time off at
the same time to
go on vacation.

The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

ory and Jennifer Partlow
met as optometry students,
though not at the same school.
In 2008, Jen was doing her ocular disease
residency at the VA Medical Center in
Huntington, WV, and Cory was an intern
at the same time. They continued to date
while he went through rotations at other
locations. After he graduated and she finished
her residency, they moved to the
same town in Virginia and worked at separate
optometry offices. They got married
in 2012.

Together they opened Black Mountain Family
Eyecare in Black Mountain, NC — near where Jen
grew up — in July 2013. “As far as opening a new
optometry office with your spouse, one of the biggest
positives is the support you get when things aren’t
going smoothly,” Cory says. “It is also great to be
able to talk about issues of the office with someone
who actually understands those issues.”


On the flip side, it’s sometimes hard to separate
your working life from your private life, and that
goes double when it comes to getting away from
the office for more than a few days to spend time
together. “It can be difficult to take time off at the
same time due to coverage issues,” Jennifer says. “But
it is extremely important to plan for it and to do it.”


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

BRYAN AND AMIE
FINLEY
ISLAND OPTICIANS,
PALM BEACH, FL

The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

t’s a family affair at Island
Opticians, where Bryan and
Amie Finley will mark their
second year in business on
April 2 — which is also their
wedding anniversary. How romantic is that?
“We met when Amie applied for a job at an
independent optical shop I worked at,” says
Bryan, who’s been in the vision care business
since 1999. “She didn’t have any optical experience,
but I could tell she was smart and was
comfortable in a sales role, so I told the boss
he’d be stupid not to hire her. Three years later,
after each going our separate ways, we reconnected
at another practice, and the next year
we were married.”

LOVE TIPS

DO understand
and play off of
each other’s strengths
and weaknesses.

DON’T let it get
competitive.
Always praise the
other’s efforts and
input.

The Finleys bought a long-standing shop
in Palm Beach and have made it their own
over the past two years. “We find it hard to
not talk optical when away from work,” Bryan
says. “Between work, kids and grandbabies,
we always have something to talk about,
but I’d be lying if I said we leave work at the
office. On the good side, we do at least always
understand and can empathize with each
other when it comes to work topics.”


Both Bryan and Amie are licensed opticians,
though Bryan is at the shop more since Amie
has another job. “We try to both be involved in
frame buying and other large decisions,” Bryan
says. “I do all of the social media stuff and print
advertising, but when it comes to face-to-face
marketing, she does most of that. Let’s face it,
she’s easier on the eyes.”


The Big Story: Love Is in Sight
Accepting
an award
as Florida’s
OD of the
Decade last
year is Dr.
Ken Lawson
with his wife
Dr. Jamie
Lawson.

DR. KEN
LAWSON AND
DR. JAMIE
LAWSON
BAYSHORE EYE CARE,
BRADENTON, FL

The Big Story: Love Is in Sight

en got his future fatherin-
law’s seal of approval
before he ever met his wife.
Ken Lawson and Jamie
Wedel attended the same
large high school in Bradenton, FL, and
knew lots of the same people, but somehow,
their paths had never crossed.

LOVE TIPS

DO use each
other for free
consultations on a
confusing case.

DON’T be upset with your spouse for not
always having the same opinion, especially
on major work decisions.

Taking a year off after college to decide between
medical school and optometry school, Ken was
working as a part-time high school science teacher.
That’s when he met Jamie’s father, Jim Wedel, who
also taught science. Ken decided to attend the University
of Houston College of Optometry in the fall
of 1989. Jamie had begun studies at UHCO at the
same time — and her dad made sure she met Ken
when she came home for winter break. The couple
hit it off, dated the rest of their time in optometry
school, became engaged just before graduation and
got married in 1994 after Ken finished his residency.

Like most young couples, the Lawsons had
multiple goals. Owning a private practice was one,
but paying student loans and buying a house were
on the list, too. So they both worked in commercial
optometry for a couple of years before taking the
plunge on their own business, Bayshore Eye Care.

“We finally purchased a free-standing office on
a busy corner at the end of 1995 and really got going
building the practice in 1996,” Ken says. He was
working at two places while trying to remodel the
new office and finish up their new home. Meanwhile,
Jamie was eight months pregnant with their first
child and working full time. “Whew! It makes me
tired just remembering that time in our lives,” she
recalls. They even opened a second location with
another OD, Dr. Glenn Altman, Ken’s college roommate.
“It did well, but we had little kids and wanted
more time with them,” Ken says. (Altman is still at
that practice, University Eye Care.)

One office suits Ken and Jamie well and they work
on opposite schedules. The couple’s daughter is now
19 and they have a 14-year-old son, too. The hardest
part of working together is trying to take time off.
“We want to take vacations together, but then no one
is at the office generating any income,” says Jamie.
But the best part of working together as a married
couple, she adds, is “100 percent trust in financial
and ethical decisions and complete empathy with
the other after a particularly draining day.”

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