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US Eyewear Manufacturing ‘Poised for a Comeback’?

‘We can’t keep up with the orders,’ says one domestic company owner.

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The U.S. eyewear manufacturing industry may be “poised for a comeback,” in the view of one company owner.

Charles Whitehill, owner of Shuron, says demand is increasing for his firm’s offerings, according to an article published by Crain’s Chicago Business.

The comments were part of a profile on State Optical, which the publication says is the largest U.S. eyewear maker. Shuron, based in Greenville, SC, is the second-largest.

“We’ve got customers from Canada and Japan and all over coming to us to make American products for them, said Whitehill, who is 82. “We can’t keep up with the orders.”

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Shuron “has been making eyeglasses since the Civil War ended,” according to Crain’s.

State Optical came to prominence much more recently — it launched just five years ago. Today it operates a plant with 65 employees in Vernon Hill, IL. It serves about 1,200 optical retailers.

Read more at Crain’s Chicago Business

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Optical Product Firm Looks North to a Whole New Market

It will distribute contact lenses in Canada.

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CORAL SPRINGS, FL – ABB Optical Group, a provider of optical products and business solutions in the eyecare industry, announced its expansion into the Canadian market.

Beginning in 2020, ABB Optical will distribute contact lenses in Canada, starting with servicing FYidoctors, Canada’s largest doctor-owned provider of eyecare and ophthalmic products and services, and Independent Alliance clinics.

The company stated in a press release: “According to ABB OPTICAL’s market intelligence, eye care professionals in Canada have not had the opportunity to benefit from contact lens consolidation and business management best practices with one distributor – a common model in the United States which provides efficiency, cost savings, and better, faster service for practices and patients.”

“We are excited about our expansion into the Canadian market and look forward to serving the country’s eye care professionals,” said ABB Optical CEO Tom Burke. “We have seen time and time again that efficient contact lens supply chain management can help improve patient care. Benefits to a practice include lowered costs, administrative time savings and improved turn-around time for patients to receive their lenses.”

Burke added that ABB Optical’s expansion into Canada also benefits the Canadian economy, stating, “In addition to servicing eye care professionals, we’re excited to be making a substantial economic investment in Canada. ABB OPTICAL will operate its own Canadian distribution center which will house inventory, and our expanded business will provide job opportunities for Canadians.”

FYidoctors’ CEO and Chairman Dr. Alan Ulsifer said, “ABB’s entrance into Canada will bring incredible benefits to Canadian optometrists. The company’s proven systems of single source ordering, direct to patient delivery, and business solutions and services will help Canadian optometrists thrive in a market that continues to be challenging. We are very excited and proud to be their first customers.”

ABB Optical noted that it “also offers other business solutions for the optical industry that could benefit Canadian eye care professionals in the future, such as lens fabrication, ophthalmic lens distribution, frames distribution, practice development strategies, a data and analytics platform, and gas permeable contact lens manufacturing.”

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89-Location Optometry Network Acquired

It operates in Arizona and Florida.

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ST. LOUIS – EyeCare Partners LLC, a network of medical optometry and ophthalmology practices, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Nationwide Vision, a full-service vision care provider.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition “continues to strengthen ECP’s network of free-standing optometric offices in fast-growing regional markets,” according to a press release.

Nationwide, headquartered in Chandler, AZ, operates 89 optometry offices throughout Arizona and Florida offering eyecare services and eyewear products. The company has over 780 employees, including full-time optometrists who perform more than 250,000 comprehensive exams annually.

“Nationwide is exceptionally well respected in Arizona and Florida, where its premier eye health services, consistent value and broad assortment of fashionable eyewear are experiencing strong demand from existing and new customers,” said Kelly McCrann, CEO of ECP. “We are thrilled Nationwide’s entire team, and especially its leader Al Bernstein, has joined ECP. We look forward to leveraging Nationwide’s deep experience with managed vision plans to help expand ECP into new markets.”

Bernstein said, “All of us at Nationwide Vision are excited about our opportunity to partner with EyeCare Partners. ECP has a reputation for being a superb business partner and we are eager to leverage its capabilities to pursue expansive growth in Arizona and Florida, two of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S.”
With 12 optometric and ophthalmic acquisitions in 2019, ECP now operates across 12 states throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, as well as the Southwest with the addition of Nationwide. ECP supports the growth of its practices with revenue cycle management, purchasing, marketing, human resources, recruiting, training, IT and other business functions.

“With the Nationwide team, we look forward to providing patients with the ultimate in eye care in
Arizona and Florida,“ said Dr. James J. Wachter, chief professional officer of ECP.

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Optical Distributor Acquired

Hilco is the second investment in Windjammer’s $870 million Senior Equity Fund V, L.P.

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Windjammer Capital Investors has announced the acquisition of Hilco Vision in partnership with management.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. As a result of the transaction, Blue Point Capital Partners has exited Hilco Vision, PE Hub Network noted.

Based in Plainville, MA, Hilco is a distributor of optical products and accessories to opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists.

“Windjammer is an ideal partner for Hilco,” said Hilco CEO Ross Brownlee. “The combination of their successful track record investing in specialty distribution businesses like ours, the value-added resources they bring, and our shared objective to deliver even greater value to our customers and investors makes us confident that we will be able to execute our growth plan during this next stage of the Company’s development.”

Matt Anderson, managing director at Windjammer, said, “The breadth of Hilco’s product offerings and value-added services represent a differentiated value proposition for its customers, which is clearly reflected in the Company’s leading market position and its long-tenured customer relationships.”

Hilco is the second investment in Windjammer’s $870 million Senior Equity Fund V, L.P.

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