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  July 10, 2013
In Your Employ

'Roast and Toast' Surprises Husband and Wife Founders of The Hour Glass

By dba staff

James A. Stephens, OD, FAAO

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—When the CEO of The Hour Glass, James A. Stephens, OD, FAAO, walked into a room full of employees one night last month, he expected to lead a corporate awards presentation. Instead, he and his wife Alice were met with a standing ovation followed by a "Roast and Toast." Honored for their many years of service in the optical industry, there was far more toasting than roasting of James and Alice Stephens.

The two founded The Hour Glass in 1985 and grew it into a successful chain of stores throughout the Tallahassee region. Their daughter, Halley Stephens, shared her mother's description of the operation: "She says Dad checked the eyes, and she did everything else, order frames, pay bills, sign paychecks, etc. She was president." Since its founding the company has grown to 11 locations—two Hour Glass locations in Tallahassee and one in Albany, Ga.; seven South East Eye Specialists & Eye$avers in the Tallahassee region and another in Georgia.

The two Tallahassee Hour Glass locations are superstores stocking 2,500 frames and offering one-hour service. In a small regional market, the company has grown to be ranked number 38 among Vision Monday's Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers.

With most of the company's more than 120 employees in attendance, plus additional members of the optical community, James and Alice walked into a room packed with about 160 people on the night of June 22, 2013. Among those on hand to pay homage were industry leaders Ronald R. Foreman, OD, former president of SECO International, and Jim Edwards, president of Opti-Port, the national alliance of eyecare providers.

Representatives of other regional optical groups included Stephen F. Phillips, OD, FAAO, of Eye Express, headquartered in Winter Haven, Fla. with nine locations in Central Florida, and Stephen L. Franklin, CEO of Accurate Optical, with 14 locations covering patients from the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

Also in attendance were Stacy Lanier of Marchon Eyewear and George Johnson, formerly with X-Cel Contacts. The event was sponsored by many of the vendors of The Hour Glass—A&A Optical, ClearVision Optical, Costa Del Mar, Essilor, Marchon Eyewear, Safilo, Signet Armorlite, Silhouette, Transitions Optical, Vision-Ease Lens, Viva Optical and Younger Optics.

Videos shown during the event featured current and former employees, industry people with connections to the company, former employees who still work in the industry, as well as almost every employee saying "Thank you." City commissioner, Andrew Gillum, read a proclamation from the Mayor.

Almost everyone who stood up to "Roast and Toast" the company's founders had only kind words to say, with many stating that while Stephens is among the finest optometrists in Florida he's also an exceptional businessman.

Their generosity was revered as well, so of course, James and Alice Stephens did what they had originally planned for the evening and presented plaques to 15 staff members who have been employed by the company for 20 years.

Mark P. Brown, COO of The Hour Glass, told dba, "While some of his long-time buddies grilled him pretty good, there was far more toasting. The theme of the night was really how generous they both are. They are incredibly generous people who have built a tremendous organization in a very small market."

The Hour Glass has two locations in Tallahassee, Fla., and one location in Albany, Ga.

The Hour Glass superstores stock 2,500 frames.

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