Executive Suite

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Connie Achman
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
X-Cel Optical Company
Sauk Rapids, Minn.

Chosen Because...…“Connie never stops inventing new strategies. Whether it’s something as simple as flowers in the reception area or as complicated as progressive lens technology, she leads and influences the staff at X-Cel in ways that are both equally important.”

Responsible for sales and marketing at X-Cel, Connie Achman works with her team to expand business opportunities through new products while respecting X-Cel’s long history of being a supplier of unique, small volume products. Achman spent seven years in sales and marketing of intraocular lenses and then 14 years with Transitions Optical before moving to X-Cel.

“It’s very exciting being part of a small company where the decisions you make immediately impact the business,” said Achman. Her greatest work challenges are keeping up with the changes in the industry and how they affect the business. On the home front, Achman works to stay in touch with people who are important to her and…potty train her new dog!

SHE SAYS…“I’ve been blessed with strong mentors who continue to drive me to grow and step outside my comfort zone. There are so many people who have influenced me in my career, often in ways I didn’t expect. Hopefully, they all know what they mean to me. I’m inspired by ‘what’s next’ and making a difference in some small way.”


Nancy Bernard
National Sales Director
ClearVision Optical
Hauppauge, N.Y.

Chosen Because...“Nancy is the ideal leader. A great business woman and a wonderful person, she oversees the company’s award-winning sales and customer service teams and has been called a true icon in the organization.”

Some 22 years ago, Nancy Bernard was about to take a job in another industry when she went in for her last interview with ClearVision’s David Friedfeld. “When the interview ended I knew that optical would be a great fit and would provide me with an outstanding career opportunity,” said Bernard. She was brought in to assist David and Peter Friedfeld in sales and marketing and to help the ClearVision team grow a small, successful family-owned business into a national entity.

During her two decades with the company, ClearVision has grown from 15 sales consultants to 76, they have added five regional sales managers, as well as a business development manager. As director of sales and a member of ClearVision’s Executive Team, Bernard helps address day-to-day and future business objectives of the entire company.

In her role as director of sales, she focuses on increasing business, developing key account programs, hiring and expanding the company and working with the sales team.

SHE SAYS...“We have seen enormous advancements and changes in many areas. Information technology has brought the world to our fingertips. To succeed, we must recognize that change is inevitable and we must proactively look toward the future in order to prepare for what is to come.”


Rhona Hutton
Vice President
Colors in Optics, Ltd.
New York, N.Y. 

Chosen Because...“Rhona Hutton has been vice president of Colors in Optics for over 25 years. She is called the ‘lifeblood of the company’ thanks to her vision of what is fashionable and chic, as well as salable, in today’s diverse market.”

Crediting husband Sanford Hutton, president of Colors in Optics, as her mentor and the person who introduced her to the optical industry, Rhona Hutton has been in the eyewear business for over 30 years. As vice president, Hutton heads up the design team for the company’s sun and optical divisions and works closely with licensors to interpret the personality and lifestyle of each individual brand.

Hutton’s role is not only to maintain style and quality, but to find the right partners and licensors to compliment and add to the company’s roster of brands. She also works closely with the marketing team to ensure that the proper strategies are in place for the marketing of the company’s retail brands from major ad campaigns to sales.

“It is important to be open and offer product that offers quality, value and style. I love my job because I love to be creative, have the ability to work with great people and make a difference in the fashion eyewear community,” Hutton said.

SHE SAYS...“I truly believe you have to be passionate. It is very important to be passionate, optimistic and confident about what you do. Because I am, I am happy to come to work and feel like I am contributing everyday.”


Diane C. John
Vice President of Business Development
Red Tray, HMI Buying Group
Vicksburg, Miss.

Chosen Because...“She has effectively launched a whole new business in three short years. Her negotiations with key suppliers have led to partnerships with the leading optical labs.”

Diane John joined the Hayes Companies in 1991 and has never looked back. From directing the sales/marketing and product development for Hayes Marketing, Inc., to the planning, developing and implementing sales/marketing strategies for the HMI Buying Group, John continues to bring new ideas to the table. She recently launched a new business model for Red Tray Purchasing Alliance, and in three years, took this start-up business with no members to a multimillion dollar division with members in 43 states, all during one of the toughest economies in recent history.

She also launched two new online communities: Dr. Hayes Blog and Red Tray Radio podcasts. John loves the diversity of skills required to do her job including being both a strategist and an implementer of those strategies.

SHE SAYS...“Always play ‘up.’ Whether it’s taking your career to the next level or raising the level of your tennis game, be confident enough to seek out talented, successful people to work with, compete against, and learn from.”


Corinne McCormack
Vice President and Fashion Director
FGX International
New York, N.Y.

Chosen Because…“She is an active leader in the industry, through her involvement in the Optical Women’s Association (OWA) and the Vision Council, working to get more recognition for reading glasses and accessories, crafting a ‘fashion’ message for eyewear.”

With the acquisition of her company in 2009 by FGX International, one of the largest designers and manufacturers in non-prescription reading glasses and sunglasses, McCormack took on the new role of the vice president and fashion director. With her new title she became the first female VP at the company, bringing more than 30 years of combined experience in eyewear and retailing accessories to oversee the design and development of the Corinne McCormack line of readers, sunreaders and accessories and to analyze fashion trends and bring fashion advice and expertise to FGX International’s several existing brands (Foster Grant, Magnivision and others).

McCormack started her non-prescription reading glass business more than 15 years ago out of her apartment in New York City after several years working for other fashion companies. Today, the entrepreneur’s eyewear is available in more than 2,000 retail locations.

McCormack, also a VM Influential Woman in 2004, is a leader in the industry, actively involved or serving, on several boards, such as the OWA (past president and board member since 2009; chair of the nominating committee from 2007 to 2009, now chair of the program committee) and The Vision Council (chair of marketing communications committee for two years, chair of fashion & lifestyle task force for four years). She worked closely with the Vision Council to get more recognition for reading glasses and accessories, and has helped the organization on crafting a “fashion” message for eyewear.

SHE SAYS...“No one can do it alone—the collaboration of a team creates success.”


Mary Nyitray
Owner
Optical Arts
Toledo, Ohio

Chosen Because...“Mary has nurtured Optical Arts from a small, simple optical shop to a regional resource where unsurpassed eyecare and ultra-fashionable eyewear are the focus of the business.”

Mary Nyitray describes her career at Optical Arts simply by saying, “Because it is a small business, I wear all the hats.” The hat she’s put on most recently is designer and decorator for her Toledo-based optical boutique, the remodeling of which was completed in May and included having walls moved “to help with patient flow.”

Nyitray’s parents opened Optical Arts 48 years ago and she has been working here for the past three decades, taking over leadership from her father in 1988. “I was a receptionist and it gave me a really good foundation. I could step back and see how people responded to the opticians,” which she says helped her in dealing with customers.

From that time on, she’s been adamant about the fact that opticianry is well-suited for women. “I think the women have a real knack for frame selections, styling and adjustments. We also have better communication ability, more compassion for customers,” she said.

Nyitray’s theory for success is to go beyond the basics of what a customer tells you and to focus on educating them. She believes that in talking to customers, you find out what they really need and how different products might help in different aspects of their lives.

SHE SAYS...“Finding out what people do and how they’re going to use their glasses is more than just order-taking. We should be delving in more and suggesting things for the patient to make their lives easier.”


Melissa Scoppettone
President
Ron's Optical
Livermore, Calif.

Chosen Because...“She is always positive and willing to try something new.”

“I generally say I was born into the industry,” Melissa Scoppettone said. Her father, Ron Scoppettone, founded Ron’s Optical in 1974 out of his garage and, as a child, Melissa was told that the company was her legacy. After a career in accounting, she became president five years ago and has since geared the company on a more fashion-oriented route, adding accessories like readers and chains in the process.

Currently, Scoppettone is working on creating a more stylish, modern answer to the question of men’s eyeglass cases, taking them away from the strictly utilitarian purpose they served years ago. “Having the woman’s touch on things definitely brings a new aspect of fashion to the company,” while adding that the case industry is still predominantly run by men. She is also interested in “getting practices to realize their potential as a retail center.”

“Everyday I get to come to a place that has so much history for me and is very much a part of who I am. Running this business has been my dream since I was a young girl and seeing that dream become a reality has been amazing,” she admitted.

SHE SAYS...“I feel honored to be a part of a new generation that’s coming up in the optical world and creating a new aspect to the accessory and cases field. I feel really proud to have taken over this business that my father put so much into and gearing it more toward women and having that female touch that wasn’t here.”


Beverly Suliteanu
CMO, Creative Director & Vice President Product Development
Wescan Optical
Montreal, Canada

Chosen Because...“Beverly has developed several product lines for Wescan all bearing her signature creative stamp which has helped generate incredible growth for the company in the last six years.”

Like many adults, Beverly Suliteanu credits her father as her biggest mentor. “He taught me that to evolve and grow as an individual I have to always believe in myself, not be afraid to take chances and that it’s okay to sometimes make mistakes,” said Suliteanu.

Her admiration takes on new facets when you learn that she grew up in the business and her father founded Canada’s Western Optical almost 50 years ago. She joined the company in sales but had her eyes on product development. Six years in sales and spending her Saturdays working in a dispensary and she realized her goal having acquired a true understanding of the needs of their customers.

“Experience in sales is invaluable. It allows you to truly understand what is important to your customers,” stated Suliteanu. To this day, she still maintains a small group of clients in order to keep her eyes and ears on the market, in addition to her primary responsibilities for the development and design of six collections, three of which are sold internationally, and the management of the portfolio of brands the company distributes in Canada.

SHE SAYS...“It is important for women to trust their talent and not be afraid to speak their mind. Women are strong, forward-thinking and caring. Combine this with a practical approach to fashion and business and it’s easy for women to make a difference in this industry.”


Jennifer Taylor
Executive Vice President and CFO
Eye Care Centers of America
San Antonio, Texas

Chosen Because...“Her dedication and passion for the business has led to her success at ECCA…her hands-on, ‘Texas’ style continues to inspire all stakeholders to be the best they can be.”

After three years at accounting giant Price Waterhouse, Jennifer Taylor joined the Eye Care Centers of America (ECCA) optical chain 13 years ago as vice president and controller; she was promoted to her current position as executive VP and chief financial officer late in 2008.

In her role as executive VP/CFO, the Houston native is responsible for overseeing the financial and accounting activities of the retail arm of HVHC, which includes more than 525 stores under a variety of brands. Taylor helped with the financial transition after HVHC acquired ECCA in August 2006, and that experience has helped her professional development, she said, noting, “I’ve found it’s important to embrace change, which is not always a strength of financial people. Change can be scary, but then you move on to build a stronger organization.”

SHE SAYS...“Women in the optical business have definitely made progress since I started with ECCA in 1997. Everyone has come to view women and men more equally, recognizing their individual strengths and weaknesses.”


Jenny L. Webb
Co-Owner
Downtown EyeCare
Marquette, Mich.

Chosen Because...“Jenny’s personality is a model for her staff when it comes to customer service, and professional dispensing and she leads by example in the marketing abilities. She is active in community involvements and a role model for all of us.”

Jenny L. Webb came out of early retirement in 2005 to move 450 miles away from her home outside of Detroit to Marquette, Mich. There, she opened Downtown EyeCare with her husband Jon Webb, OD, whom she calls her “partner in crime.”

In the five years since moving to Marquette, Webb and her husband have also started a vision program for the uninsured in the area. With the help of the Medical Care Access Coalition (MCAC), Downtown EyeCare gives patients free eye exams and then provides them with frames from Cherry Optical lab at a minimal cost.

Webb credits her parents for “teaching me how to treat people,” and also mentions her co-workers at both labs as mentors. “We would not have built either practice if it were not for their support...they are dear people in my life,” she said.

As for staying interested in the field after all these years? “It’s really easy to stay passionate because everything is always changing. It’s a cool balance of medical and fashion and it always has something that keeps me intrigued,” Webb said.

SHE SAYS...“Back before women were more involved in day-to-day operations, glasses were definitely a medical device. But you’re doing much more. And patients will come back because they know they look good. Women are the ones fitting the personalities and not just the person.


Diane G. Wilson, OD
President
Arnold EyeCare Center
Arnold, Mo.

Chosen Because...“Dr. Wilson leads by example. She has standards for performance and a desire to serve others that I have never witnessed before…Always positive and encouraging, she is a terrific person. I am honored to work for her.”

Diane Wilson, OD, vividly remembers coming to Arnold EyeCare as a child, especially for her father, who suffered ongoing eye problems as a result of an eye injury in the ’70s. “I saw the impact that it had on my family. I had exposure to the field and how it affects people’s lives,” she said.

Today, Wilson is the president of Arnold Eye
Care, where she has worked for the past 22 years. She mentions co-workers Mary Beth Scaglione and Leah Vail as mentors, speaking highly of both women’s proclivity to build relationships with their customers.

Wilson has been very involved in her field, serving as a member of the Pennsylvania and DelVal chapters of VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), the AOA and Missouri Optometric Association. She is also an active member of her church and the Arnold Rotary Club—from which she won the Paul Harris Award—as well as a Vision See and Vision USA provider.

Wilson also organizes yearly mission trips to Haiti and Guatemala. “I like the fact that I have a skill that I can take to underdeveloped countries and I have something to offer to them. The skill of optometry is easily transferable to other parts of the world. We can provide something very immediate—glasses, diagnosis, arranging treatments.”

SHE SAYS...“Focus your time and energy on what’s really important to you and always try to maintain a balance. And bring a grateful heart to the service.”