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INDUSTRY PROFILE

US Optical
Providing First Class Lab Service - All Within 24 Hours

EyeCare Professional’s Paul DiGiovanni, LDO, speaking with Ralph Cotran, Co-Owner, US Optical.


Ralph Cotran


Robert Cotran


Ronald Cotran

Please provide a brief history of US Optical.
US Optical was created on March 1, 2008 by myself and my two brothers Ron and Robert. Previously we owned another lab, Optogenics, which we sold to Essilor of America in 1999. We decided to come back into the Independent lab business as we were very excited about Free form, new lens technologies, new AR coatings, digital equipment and the rapid innovation in the optical industry.

We are entrepreneurs and wanted to create another viable Independent lab to help consumers see better - much better - and this time digitally better.

This focus, coupled with our unique 24HR turnaround on uncut lenses, and very fast service on complete and edged jobs, has catapulted US Optical to the fourth largest Independent lab in the US. We are humbled by the support the independent eye care professionals have given us.

US Optical is the largest supermarket of Free form lenses, giving ECPs endless choices. We have also invested in automation with 3 Free form generators and 6 digital polishers, four Zeiss AR machines and two MEI edgers - the fastest edger in the world that specializes in wrap technology and drill mounts as well as conventional jobs.

US Optical is positioned to continue to lead the Independent wholesale lab industry in the areas of new technologies, Free form, turnaround time and superior finishing jobs.

What brands of lenses are available to your customers?
We provide the following lens brands: Zeiss, Shamir, Seiko, Younger, Hoya, Sola, Vision-Ease, Essilor, Signet, Carrera Xcede, Kbco, Pixel & US Optical Freeform. It is our goal to give customers choices and we do this by increasing lens selections and AR coatings. Our two newest products are Hoya Free-Form and Zeiss Individual II Wrap Free Form technology. We also have a large number of Zeiss AR coatings available.

In your opinion, what differentiates US Optical from its competitors?
What differentiates US Optical is our USP! (Unique Selling Proposition) We provide our customers with 7 incredible reasons to use US Optical and these are accompanied by 7 benefits that add thousands of dollars to the eye care professional's bottom line!

  1. FASTEST LAB IN AMERICA!™ ECP's will receive 24 hour turnaround on uncut lenses (with or without Zeiss AR coatings), and 3-5 working days turnaround on edged or complete jobs. This service will WOW your customers and is worth tens of thousands of dollars to your practice. It will differentiate you from the pack. NO OTHER LAB CAN DO THIS! Our turnaround time will give you a distinctive competitive advantage. You will blow your competition away.

  2. Family owned, independent just like our customers. Our goal is to help you serve your customers, grow your business profitably and make you happy. We understand your needs as an Independent Professional.

  3. Largest supermarket of brand Free form High Definition lenses. You will be able to offer your customers endless lens choices such as the Zeiss Individual II, Shamir Autograph II, Seiko Surmount, Hoya ID and Essilor Definity. We have recently launched our value line of US Optical proprietary Free form HD lenses, such as the Ultimate HD™ and the Wrap HD™.

  4. We are easy to work with. Our customer service is extremely knowledgeable and will be helpful to your practice. We answer all your questions promptly.

  5. Our prices are Net, Competitive and Fair. All these benefits, including our 24Hour service are equivalent to a 50% price value discount over any other lab! We do not inflate our price pages!

  6. We use the most advanced MEI edger in the world for Wraps and Sunglass frames. (6 & 8 bases) Our proprietary SUN RX Lens HD technology produces distortion free & cosmetically beautiful sunglasses making your customers very happy and your practice known as Sunglass RX experts!

  7. We pioneer and specialize in new technologies such as Free form lenses, PhotoFusion® by Zeiss, Transitions New Vantage® polarized lenses, Carrera’s Xcede Sun RX, and Pixel’s emPower!™ Electronic Eyeglasses. As our customer, you will always know and have access to the finest and latest optical technologies giving you an edge over the competition.

What is the turn-around time for a standard job to be completed and returned to the customer?
Finished jobs take between 3 to 5 working days from when we receive the customer's frame (3 without AR and 5 with AR). Add a day or two for drill mounts. Edged only jobs can be produced in 3 days even with Zeiss AR coatings! (It pays for an ECP to have a tracer as well.) Completed jobs are shipped by either FedEx or UPS overnight.

What factors should ECPs consider when determining which lab to use?
ECPs should look at VALUE. Does the lab they work with help them make money.

You make money when your lab consistently executes with delivery and quality and is willing to become a partner, helping you with your challenges. Is customer service friendly and proactive, are they knowledgeable? Does the lab have reasonable pricing, fair policies and excellent consistent turnaround time? If a problem or challenge occurs will the lab take responsibility and fix the problem, expedite a job or redo the job correctly? Do they have most of the products that you need? Do they give you choices? Can they handle your sunglasses? Will the managers pick up the phone and talk to you when you need a special lens or have a complex question? Are they EASY to work with? If you find that most of the time the answer is YES, then you found the lab that brings you VALUE.

We at US OPTICAL believe we are the best VALUE play in America - besides being the FASTEST LAB IN AMERICA™. Value is also all about profitability and ease of relationship for the ECP. A win-win situation for the ECP and the Lab creates Value and is a great result for the American consumer!

What’s new at US Optical?
US Optical is adding approximately 7,500 to 8,000 square feet to its facility. We need extra room to keep up with our fast turnaround, growth, personnel and service.

In addition we bought our second BISPHERA MEI edger which will cut and edge 45 pairs of eyeglass lenses per hour and will house this new edger and peripherals in this new addition. Also another digital surfacing line with two digital polishers will be purchased which will sit next to the MEI edger. Because we are growing quite fast we will need the expansion to increase our lens inventory and additional space for our current employees as well as future ones. We anticipate an additional 15 employees in the next two to three years.

We will also be building another employee cafeteria in the new space and moving some equipment from our current space into the new space. This will allow us to increase our customer service area which is very crowded currently. The expansion is needed for further growth, new digital equipment, and a new coating center, in line with our desire to stay at the cutting edge of new technologies and continue to be one of the leaders in lens digital manufacturing in the USA.

We also need to maintain our ability to turnaround jobs in twenty four hours as we continue to grow in order to maintain our service standard and business model which we believe differentiates us from thousands of competitors.

Please explain the MEI edger used for wrap around sunglasses and the technology behind it?
The MEI edger is a breakthrough in technology. These edgers can produce about 45 pairs of glasses an hour of any type, zyl or metal, rimless or drilled. It can also produce all the specialty wrap frames such as Rudy Project, Oakley Jacket and Flak Jacket, Liberty Sport, Nike Show and Skyline, Carrera Xcede and all of the Wiley X frames. It can do this because every edger has 12 different tools that it uses to edge the lenses. These tools are controlled by proprietary Cad Software that cuts the lenses in sequence to achieve the complex shapes of these lenses.

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