Sandy's Aftermath Presents Challenges for Many Optical Businesses


Houses were heavily damaged and
in some cases washed away in
Staten Island, N.Y.

NEW YORK—Even as many functions in the Tri-State region continued to slowly come back onstream, including some transportation, communication systems and power, many optical companies and ECPs in the area, with the help of committed employees, were still struggling to resume business functionality in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Safilo, with offices in Parsippany, N.J. and a showroom in New York City, was working to resume normal operations despite the challenges. Ross Brownlee, president, Safilo USA, told VMail, "The impact of Sandy has been profound, providing very real difficulties to our customers, reps and employees. The offices reopened in N.J. and N.Y. on Wednesday and, despite the enormous challenges facing employees to make it happen, we are functioning relatively normally."

Brownlee continued, "We have been substantially helped by onsite generators, providing heat and light despite the trail of fallen trees in the vicinity of the office. I an enormously impressed by the whole team's commitment and resilience in the face of what are tremendously trying times in this region."

With communications and power out in most of New Jersey, downtown New York City and Long Island, N.Y., VMail was unable to successfully reach many more affected laboratories, suppliers and eyecare professionals.

Contacted by VMail, Andrea Gluck, president of Eyewear Designs, reported, "We are totally down and have no power and are unable to bring up any of our systems with our generators. But, the main thing is we are all safe. We have all been e-mailing our customers who are totally understanding of the situation. We have a skeleton staff pulling VIP orders as requested—they are pulling orders in the dark, like miners! We will be OK, and hopefully we will get power over the weekend. We will start working the day we get power."

As reported in VMail’s prior coverage, relief efforts on the part of several companies in the industry, have begun to reach out to doctors, ECPs and consumers in the Sandy disaster areas. On Friday, VSP Global's CEO, Rob Lynch, issued a statement about VSP's dollar commitment to that effort. He said, "As part of our ongoing support and commitment to our optical providers, VSP Global is pledging up to $1 million in products, services and additional aid to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Products and services range from replacement products and displays from Marchon and Eye Designs, to deploying the VSP Mobile Clinics and portable ophthalmic equipment to practices that are not operable, and distributing gift certificates redeemable for eyecare services for non-VSP members through the American Red Cross."