MyEyeDr Acquires Doctors Vision Center


Sue Downes, president of MyEyeDr, and Robert Samit, OD, founder. 

VIENNA, Va.— MyEyeDr, the regional eyecare group based here, today acquired Doctors Vision Center, (DVC), including the brand and the corporate-owned locations of the group, one of the leading optical retailers in North Carolina. The purchase price was undisclosed.

With this acquisition along with those in other states as well as four Eyeoptix locations and seven other one- or two-office practices in North Carolina over the past year, the MyEyeDr group now has 82 locations with $125 million in revenue, executives told VMail. They added that this exceeds its previously stated goal of 60 locations with $100 million in revenue by the end of 2013, a target they announced after an infusion of private equity capital from Monitor Clipper Partners in December 2012, as reported by VMail March 13, 2013.

MyEyeDr now has 900 employees, which has grown from the 500 it had when the announcement was made in March 2013. Founded in 2001 by Robert Samit, OD, and president Sue Downes, MyEyeDr generated revenue of $75 million from 41 locations in 2012, according to Vision Monday’s ranking of the Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers. Doctors Vision Center generated revenue of $43.5 million from 41 locations in 2012, according to Vision Monday’s Top 50 report.

MyEyeDr continues actively pursuing other acquisitions with more to be announced shortly that will bring the company closer to 100 locations, Downes said.

Acquired locations will be co-branded, “Doctors Vision
Center now part of MyEyeDr,” until the patient base has become familiarized with the new owners.

In an exclusive interview about the DVC deal, Downes told VMail that it was Doctors Vision Center’s “like-minded, doctor-driven model that is the perfect fit to add to the footprint of our model.” Today’s acquisition includes Doctors Vision Center’s 18 corporate locations, while the remaining 20-plus franchise locations can choose to now join the MyEyeDr group, rebrand or partner with another company. “We think they have a wonderful model, but we are not in the franchise business,” Downes said.

About the Doctors Vision Center franchisees, which will no longer be able to use the brand name, David Sheffer, MyEyeDr’s EVP of corporate development, said that he told Doctors Vision Center’s co-owner and former chairman, Peter Hollis, OD, during negotiations, “We’re going to give them the same opportunity that you see the wisdom of. They can come on board with us.” According to Hollis, that gave him some level of comfort regarding his former franchisees.

“Our doctors are the best referral source for acquisitions because they believe in what we are doing and enjoy being a part of our organization,” Sheffer told VMail.

While Hollis will leave to pursue other endeavors outside of the optical field, Ted Watson, OD, Doctors Vision Center co-owner, will become a full-time employee of MyEyeDr. Also joining the staff of MyEyeDr will be Doctor’s Vision Center’s president/CFO, Bob Wright, who will become CFO of North Carolina; director of operations, Rachel Gardner, who will become regional manager of North Carolina; creative director, Suzanne Berardi-Gould, who will become merchandising manager of North Carolina; customer relations/marketing manager, Sarah Brown, who will become field marketing specialist; and director of human resources, Christina Seigel, who will become field marketing specialist. Practice coordinators Letitia T. Goard and Cristin Hollis will become district managers.

Hollis views the acquisition as a strategic combination of MyEyeDr’s retail strengths with Doctors Vision Center’s medical model in a state that leads in therapeutic drug laws. “We’re really good optometrists,” Hollis told VMail in an exclusive interview. “We’re not retailers, but that’s a big part of our business. They’re exceedingly strong with retail,” he said, stating that he was impressed with the infrastructure that Sue Downes and her team have created with MyEyeDr.

Hollis also cited other outside influences that led them toward this decision. “We were concerned about the long-term viability of optometry as we have practiced it for the past 30 to 40 years and the external forces beyond our control. As we look at the market and the pressures on optometry as we lose control of our fee structure to third party payers, the government, and health care reform, we asked what can we do to make certain we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “Partnering with an organization like MyEyeDr looked better, a good next step for the organization as a whole.”

For the next few months, the acquired locations will be co-branded as “Doctors Vision Center now part of MyEyeDr” until the patient base has become familiarized with the new owners, at which time the locations will be permanently branded as MyEyeDr, according to Downes.

As MyEyeDr’s continues increasing the number of practices that it has been acquiring, the company has “stayed true to our brand while at the same time extending our acquisitions team,” Downes told VMail.

“The sky’s the limit,” Sheffer told VMail when asked what the company’s goals are for acquisitions in 2014. However, the size of the company to be acquired will have an influence. Single office acquisitions will have to be geographically contiguous to MyEyeDr’s current locations in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, DC, but larger acquisitions similar in size to Doctors Vision Center “will bring us to other states,” said Sheffer.