Transitions Optical Announces Leadership Changes: CEO Elias Retires; Cole Returns to PPG

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PINELLAS PARK, Fla.—After 40 years of service to PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG) , including nearly 24 with Transitions Optical, Richard C. Elias, senior vice president, optical and specialty materials, and CEO, Transitions Optical, Inc., will be retiring, effective April 1, 2014.

The news and other executive changes were announced hours after Essilor International (Reuters: ESSI.PA) reported earlier, as reported this morning by VMail , that it has finalized the acquisition of PPG’s 51 percent ownership stake in Transitions Optical, the leading provider of photochromic lenses to ophthalmic lens manufacturers, and 100 percent of the capital of Intercast, a manufacturer of premium sunlenses.

Elias joined PPG in 1975 as a chemist at the company’s Allison Park, Pa., coatings research and development center. After advancing through several product-development assignments, Elias became program manager for photochromic lenses in PPG’s chemicals segment in 1989. He was named vice president of sales and marketing when Transitions Optical, Inc. was established in 1990, and he became its president in 1995 and chief executive officer in 2007. Elias was named general manager of optical products for PPG in 1998 and was elected vice president, optical products, in early 2000. He was named senior vice president for the optical and specialty materials reporting segment at PPG in 2008.

Dave Cole, Transitions Optical’s president, has accepted the promotion to vice president for PPG’s packaging coatings business following nearly 24 years with Transitions Optical. Cole joined PPG in 1981 and held a variety of sales and marketing roles in the chemicals organization prior to joining the Transitions Optical organization. He participated in the start-up of Transitions Optical in 1990 as manager, sales and business development and later progressed through several positions of increasing responsibility before being named its chief operating officer in 2010. He was appointed president, Transitions Optical in 2011.

Paddy McDermott has been appointed president, Transitions Optical, effective immediately. He will report directly to Bertrand Roy, senior vice president, strategic partnerships, Essilor. McDermott originally joined Transitions Optical in 1993 and has previously held several key positions in the company’s EMEA region and globally. He was responsible for the startup of Transitions Optical’s Ireland facility and subsequently worked as director of operations and customer service for Europe, global supply chain director, and information technology leader globally. Subsequent positions included director, lenscaster sales, EMEA; director, operational excellence and global engineering; and his most recent role as global director, strategic initiatives.

Bertrand Roy, senior vice president, strategic partnerships, Essilor, will lead the Transitions Optical business for the Essilor Group. Roy has been with Essilor International for nearly 27 years and was instrumental to the foundation of the Transitions Optical joint venture. He has served in Transitions Optical in many capacities including as an executive director and board member.

Congratulating Elias on his retirement and Cole on his promotion, Roy shared his appreciation saying, “For me, it has been both a professional and personal honor to work with Rick and Dave for nearly two decades. They are gentlemen of the highest caliber of integrity and professionalism. Their leadership has been integral to creating Transitions Optical’s unique culture and driving its continued strong performance since its inception. Their dedication has positioned Transitions Optical for continued success well into the future.”