Despite Difficult Times, Labs Still Value COLA Meeting


Pictured left to right, Good Fellow committee member Lori McKenzie, Empire Optical’s Keith Grossman, and independent lab sales rep, Robert Lugibihl at the COLA meeting.

Younger Optics Terry Yoneda (l) presents Bob Babcock, a special project manager for Essilor partner labs, with the 2009 Good Fellow Award.

Christie Walker: Contributing Editor

LA QUINTA, Calif.—Despite difficult economic times, over 60 optical laboratory representatives and vendors gathered here for the annual California Optical Laboratory Association (COLA) meeting and West Coast Good Fellow Award ceremony.

“I think it is even more important now, given the economic situation we face, to keep up-to-date and informed about our industry,” said John Haigh, president of J&J Optical, Paradise, Calif. “Attending COLA offers a chance to meet with lab principals to share opinions and gauge the strength of our industry right now, as well as network and share strategies going forward. I felt attending COLA was vital and timely.”

The two-day COLA meeting opened with a golf tournament and was followed by a cocktail reception and dinner including the presentation of the West Coast Good Fellow Award. This year’s recipient was Bob Babcock, special project manager for Essilor partner labs. The Good Fellow Award honors an individual who is respected and admired by his or her peers and who truly represents a “Good Fellow.” Babcock was presented with a perpetual trophy and the traditional golf putter by Younger Optic’s Terry Yoneda.

In addition to the Good Fellow Award and networking opportunities, labs attended six presentations on the second day of the meeting, covering everything from a new overnight express courier service to a sneak peak at new edging technology. Steve Swalgen from Santinelli International presented information on high curve bevel and edging customization. Kevin Paddy of National Optronics discussed the benefits of five-axis edgers and auto blocking and Brad Husted of Transitions Optical discussed marketing opportunities for optical labs. Michael Morris, OD from Morris Vision Consulting, spoke on the composite lens technology from PixelOptics. ■