Nautic Forms Healthy Eyes Advantage With Four Leading Buying Groups to Create Largest ECP Alliance

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. and BOCA RATON, Fla.—Today, Nautic Partners, LLC, a middle-market private equity firm, is announcing the creation of Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), in partnership with four industry-leading companies. Healthy Eyes has acquired substantially all the assets of Block Business Group, C&E Vision Services, HMI, including Red Tray and Club Zero, and Vision West. As a result, Healthy Eyes Advantage will form the largest alliance of eyecare professionals in the country, providing group purchasing, alliance and other services to over 10,000 independent eyecare professionals.

In forming HEA, Nautic pointed out it has partnered with industry leaders who collectively bring over 100 years of experience serving the independent eyecare channel. The HEA executive team will include Jeff Rinkus, the former chief operating officer of ABB Optical Group, who is CEO of Healthy Eyes Advantage. Andrew Alcorn, the former CEO of Block Vision and chairman of Superior Vision, is executive vice president of HEA. Dr. Joe Mallinger, former CEO of Vision West, past-president of the California Optometric Association and president-elect of Optometry Cares, the AOA’s charitable foundation, is senior vice president of professional relations for HEA.

In addition to the executive team, Michael Block, founder and CEO of Block Business Group and a pioneer of the eyecare buying group sector, and Brad Shapiro, principal of C&E and Vision West, have joined the board of Healthy Eyes and are serving as senior advisors to the company.

Key operating management in Block, C&E, HMI and Vision West are remaining with the company, executives told VMail. Said Rinkus, “It will be business as usual for all the members of each group and all the distinguishing features of those groups remain in place, including doing business under their individual names for the near term. Added Alcorn, “We want to provide alternatives and options for 10,000 loyal members, to serve them and others like them. We’ll be sharing new programs with members soon.”

Stated Rinkus, “Together, the four buying groups provide purchasing services and management support to optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians across the country, with over $500 million in purchasing power.” He explained to VMail that this is a “conservative” estimate of the collective wholesale purchasing of all the groups’ current 10,000 members. “These numbers give us an opportunity to partner with leading industry suppliers to develop innovative purchasing programs that will further reduce our members’ largest expense, their cost of goods. We will also be building a peer network of independent practitioners to assist with marketing, managed care, staffing, accounting and other practice management challenges.”

Dr. Mallinger added, “Each of these groups has helped the independents provide great value to its patients and succeed in the marketplace. Given our partnership with Nautic and the strength of the Healthy Eyes platform, our vision of delivering differentiated value to independent eyecare professionals and being their eyecare business solution will continue at an unprecedented scale.”

Founded in the early 1980s when independent practitioners faced growing competition from national chains, Block, C&E, HMI and Vision West set out to support the competitiveness of the independent channel by aggregating purchasing services allowing for efficient interaction with the eyecare supply chain. Thirty years later, the announcement noted, the newly formed Healthy Eyes alliance “will expand upon this commitment and offer new and unparalleled access, services, education and networking. As the largest alliance in the country, HEA will set the standard of independent community and network services offered to the industry.”

“We are thrilled to partner with an incredible group of executives to form Healthy Eyes Advantage”, said Chris Corey, managing director of Nautic. “The combination of these four eyecare buying groups provides an outstanding foundation to serve and best position independent eyecare professionals for success in today’s evolving market and into the future.”

Healthy Eyes Advantage is based in Boca Raton, Fla. with offices in San Clemente, Calif., San Diego, Calif. and Vicksburg, Miss.

Nautic focuses on three industries: health care, industrial products and outsourced services. Nautic has completed 130 platform transactions and its strategy is to partner with management teams to accelerate growth via add-on acquisitions, targeted operating initiatives and increased management team depth. Nautic generally makes equity investments of $25 million to $100 million, the company said.

Kavanagh Consulting was an advisor to the four companies in the transaction.