BUSINESS: Suppliers Defining Leadership By Staff Friday, March 18, 2011 12:00 AM A VM Staff Report Download a PDF of the cover story: Defining Leadership From Age Old Truisms To Modern Age Necessities Focus, with flexibility. Taking the long-term view while balancing day-to-day requirements. Creating an environment for team-building. Keeping the customer’s priorities at the forefront. Staying attuned to new ideas and knowledge. These are among the new directives for those who lead their companies through the dizzying pace of technology change and the fundamentals of moving businesses forward. Definining leadership in 2011 embraces both age-old truisms and modern age necessities. And, as Vision Monday explores what’s required in questions posed to optical retailers, ECPs, lab and supplier executives, we’ve learned that the “learning” never stops. While leaders within the optical industry share similar challenges with those who lead businesses in other fields, there are particular hurdles within the business, from organziation and location expansion, to retaining, training and defining staff roles, to developing consistent sourcing strategies. Later this month, Vision Monday will be establishing a new section on VisionMonday.com called “Defining Leadership.” It will reflect the points of view of executives, owners and business managers from across the industry and also offer a digital resource guide to advice, issues and interesting questions being posed by a range of sources in the business community. In this report, we’ve asked a diverse group of industry leaders to illuminate their approaches and identify some of the tools they tap to lead their businesses ahead. We also invite you to share your perspective with us. If you are the leader of your eyecare or eyewear business, email us your answers to the questions posted on the Leadership tab of VisionMonday.com. ■ – The VM Editors Bill Jehling President Clarkson Eyecare “Any leader needs to have integrity, be trusted, a motivator, enabler, communicator and be able to set the right strategy, direction and initiatives for success. As in every industry, the challenges are constantly changing and the only constant is that the rate of change is always increasing. “In today’s increasingly competitive business climate, we are staying closer to our patients and suppliers than ever before. We want to know exactly what services our patients want and how. To have materials delivered to meet their needs and wants we must work with our suppliers to deliver on this appropriately. We’re also paying attention to market research and surveys of patients that both positive and negative. If you listen to your patients regularly and respond appropriately, they’ll tell you what they want. “With the transition to EHR we have added IT resources and capabilities that we did not require in the past. By expanding marketing resources, we stay abreast of the changing landscape of how consumers receive and process information. We have also added to and expanded our knowledge base at our lens lab to maintain state of the art processes and product. “Our five-person executive team—which consists of our clinical director, founder, CFO, and chairman, as well as myself—constantly read, research, explore and spend time in our offices. We meet regularly, challenge each other, and then try to make the right moves. “As a company, we like to build from within and maintain our basic culture. We annually conduct organization reviews to look at everyone, identify future leaders, identify key development needs and compensate properly. “Today, access to information is better and quicker than ever. Combined with our internally developed practice management and EMR software we can find things that we could not have found in the past and react to trends faster. The difficult part is that we have more information than we have resources to examine. We have certain sets of information that we rely on daily—we call it our “dashboard of information”—so we see what is happening. We watch our business every day and compare it to what’s going on in the rest of the world. With everything digitized, we have a tremendous amount of information on individuals, coding issues, insurances, impacts, and what does that do to our performance. The information is out there; it’s just a matter of grabbing it and having the discipline to analyze it. I always wish we could do more but you do the best with what you have.” ■ Raanan Naftalovich President Shamir Insight “The business environment and the optical industry has changed from five years ago due to the pace of change being much faster. The Internet has changed the way we communicate, learn and/or make purchasing decisions. The consolidation within the optical industry influences the way that we are doing business. Today, you can find yourself with your largest customers also being your largest competitors. The business leader today will need to adapt and change his strategy, his tactics and be innovative with products and services more so than ever before. He also needs to have a certain level of communication skills to be able to deliver changes to the organization and to the market. The thing that has not changed is that you must stay tuned-in to the customer and to respond. “Above all I believe in my great team in Shamir. I hire the best people I can get. You need to have a different type of talents around you and to let them work! “Two things are very important: Stay focused on your main mission. And provide the market with a variety of products that will offer a different solution for the varying market needs. For example, we offer the market a range of Freeform solutions that fits various lifestyle needs and budgets; Autograph II represents our high-end offering, Spectrum our mid-tier, and our economy line is called Element. We spend a lot time and money to ensure that our team of account executives has the tools necessary to educate ECP’s about products and technologies to enable them to sell not only one pair of premium products, but a second and third pair as well. “For this reason, we designed and implemented a course called the Freeform Certification Program, which has been a very successful tool for us for the past few years. In addition, our educational team primarily, Todd Hasselius, conducts hundreds of seminars each year on Freeform and many other business/product seminars.” “I am an obsessive reader and indulge in magazines such as Harvard Business Review and Inc., in addition I also listen to a Podcast called Manager Tools, which I download each week. In addition, I ensure that I am in constant communication with my managers and other leaders within the industry. “We have a history of promoting leaders within on our organization. We try to mentor and develop potential candidates, and do so by allocating a large portion of funds towards education for our employees. We encourage and believe strongly in education within Shamir! “Obviously today with smart phones, or in my case the iPhone, you have constant access to information through emails or Internet so knowledge is much more accessible. We utilize Skype and video conferencing to communicate with individuals from our parent company in Israel. On the other hand, however, the easy use of email communication creates a sea of information that isn’t always necessary or relevant to me. Because new technology is advanced, we are consumed with an overabundance of data that eventually takes time to sort and analyze through, in order for it to make sense. “Another example of how we are using technology is that we use the iPad as sales and education tools. We were the first to introduce full iPad applications in the industry. Adapting new technology is our DNA!” ■ Lisa Wolman President and CEO For Eyes Optical “Leadership takes a long-term vision, the capacity to constantly communicate that vision in different ways and at every opportunity. It means creatively adapting to a fluid business environment while maintaining vision and brand identity, and a strong underlying belief in the company’s core values which allows one to try new things—taking that leap and making it happen. “Building an inner team that’s aligned with the vision, the core values and one’s leadership style is essential to leading today, as is giving that team the room to execute with clearly defined goals. “The economic, healthcare and consolidating optical retailing landscape continues to change—the sheer size and vertical integration of our competitors is challenging, but as one of the only privately held retail businesses in the industry, we are by nature flexible and entrepreneurial, adapting rapidly while maintaining our identity. “As a consumer-oriented company that has a deeply-rooted 40-year culture, the customer always dictates my decision-making as well as the way I perceive our challenges. Customer service is at the heart of every decision I make—‘how does this affect our customer?’ That is always the first question I ask, along with ‘how does this affect our employees?’ As a second generation leader, my sensibility of the past, the present and the future is deeply infused with the founding culture of our organization and the passionate belief that we can continually deliver on our core beliefs as they relate to our customers and employees. “Over six years ago, we began effectively reorganizing our infrastructure for increased business efficiencies and are now making investments to grow the company over the next five years. I see the challenges ahead as opportunities for growth. As a result of reacting early to the economic downturn, we are now in a position to grow at every level. We’re investing in our manufacturing facility, our retail stores and our IT infrastructure. We recognize the value of our relationships and continue to seek and foster excellent partnerships with managed vision care and our suppliers. “We’re in the process of creating new positions at retail to compete more effectively while providing more growth opportunities for current employees; during our restructuring six years ago, I strove to keep our teams intact. A commitment to preserve our core identity during a period of change was imperative to me and has afforded us the opportunity now to reinvest in our people and the company. “I reread ‘Good To Great’ regularly; also, favorite fiction. Literature connects me to the most creative part of myself. For me, personally, creativity is necessary for leadership: creativity is the force behind all my key initiatives as it involves not just intelligent decision-making, but intuition, gut, and imagination. As a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization), I’ve also had the opportunity to engage with business mentors through the YPO network in a wide range of fields and industries. “My goal is always to build from within; as such, our next gen leaders are within the company, entrepreneurial in nature, believe in our core values, understand our culture and the fact that change is an inevitable part of business. ■ Jim Schneider Founder and Director of Purpose Eyes of Faith “The necessary characteristic of a leader in the optical industry, or any industry, is integrity. Integrity, decency, honesty - these are timeless requirements. Though the challenges of business ebb and flow due to economic climate, industry trends, and a variety of other factors, qualities like flexibility, perseverance and a positive attitude can weather any storm. I don’t often quote Jiminy Cricket but he was right when he said, ‘Let your conscious be your guide.’ “To effectively manage and succeed, you have to be willing and able to work through the problems. I think consistency of approach is important. We try to create an atmosphere of trust in our leadership, our design team, our salespeople and our factory. So, when problems arise, and they will, we can work as a team to fix them. Most importantly, we have faith in what we’re doing and in the mission of our company. That’s why we’ve been able not only to survive but thrive during a difficult economy. “I surround myself with good people, starting with my wife Amy. I think it’s important to have people whose strengths I might not share. In addition to adding people to our in-house staff, we’ve created positions with our strategic partners as a way to help us run more efficiently. “We want to create an environment in which people believe they can succeed. We want our team to be creative, to have fun, and communicate well with each other. Effective communication is the real key. We want a free exchange of ideas and healthy debate so everyone knows exactly where they stand. In that kind of an environment, people can grow and develop. “Our name says everything about who we are. We pray a lot. So we believe we have access to an inexhaustible supply of new ideas. Of course, we are always looking at successful companies, regardless of the industry, for approaches that set them apart from the competition. The Purple Cow, for example, works because no one looks twice at a brown or black cow. A purple cow causes a second look. We like to think we are very purple. “Digital technology has been a vital resource for us. We’ve been able to reach out and communicate our message through Facebook and Twitter. We’ve used our website and video to tell our story. So, technology has played a major role in establishing our brand. That said, we are mindful never to become so overwhelmed and preoccupied with technology that we forget this is still a relationship-driven business. Meeting people face to face is still important. Establishing personal relationships is still just as necessary as it was 50 years ago. Ultimately, deals are still made with a handshake, no matter how much technology is available.” ■ Mark Becker President/CEO, Co-owner Precision Optical “Today more than ever, it is imperative for a business leader of a small business to develop strong alliances with key vendors and most importantly key Customers. Ideally the greatest opportunities are realized when all three (leader, vendor, customer) are working on projects and problems together in a team environment. Though consolidation has been prevalent for many years, it is a realized force that will continue. The small business leader routinely should reevaluate their branding strategies and work hard to create growth contingencies with the possibilities of third party product or revenue restrictions. “We share more information than in the past and encourage open criticism. In addition to working routinely with outside consultants, we spend more time with financial experts. To encourage higher productivity and yields it is routine to recognize and implement line-production incentives. “We have been fortunate to grow at a steady pace which has allowed us to add key individuals. We are recruiting candidates with a wider breadth of experience and education. “I like the on-line version of the HBR (hbr.org), my favorite reference book is Good to Great by Jim Collins and some of my best industry information comes from a couple of key vendors. “We’re a small company with ambitious growth goals, so we share our ambitions with our team and solicit their input. The best plans in place are theirs with the highest level of successful execution. “Technology has helped us even the playing field quickly but can compromise a company’s mission if growth demands overshadow quality expectations. We see this with most of our larger competitors and are concerned that we could also slip down this road. Retention driven growth defines a leader, technology may or may not determine this.” ■ Diana Hall President Bard Optical “Each industry feels it’s so unique in every way; however, when I attend events with leaders from other industries, the conversation is pretty much the same. The world is moving at such a past pace now that any leader in any industry has to be on their toes and try to create healthy, collaborative environments, where everyone can share their thoughts for the overall health of the organization. In industries like ours that provide direct patient service, we must all remember that service at the appropriate cost is the key and patients come to our offices with more product and medical knowledge than ever before. “We are working to use technology in the most efficient ways possible. Change is never easy, however we’re working diligently to embrace all the change and take advantage of those. “We are avoiding adding positions that are not directly service-related. At the same time, we are dissecting pretty much every task we have to confirm we are performing as efficiently as possible. “We belong to several industry groups that provide opportunities for very meaty information exchanges. Our information-sharing group – OMG – is a group of about 10 other similar organizations that pretty much share anything and everything about their companies. To be able to share confidential information in a non-competitive environment and compare your results to others is a huge advantage. Over the years we have left those meetings with many ideas to improve our results. I’d highly recommend this type of industry involvement. We are also members of Optiport, which provides exceptional buying power in addition to two information-packed meetings a year. “We work very hard to create career paths for our staff members. For example, our most senior district manager joined us in our laboratory; today, she manages over $5 million in retail sales. “Has technology hurt or helped..? It’s sort of a Catch-22. With the Blackberry, iPad, computer, etc, almost everyone really wants immediate attention. That means the ‘down time” seems to be less and less. I believe technology has helped with our ability to get almost immediate data. However, we all have to take a deep breath and hold on to the quiet time to decide just what we plan to do with all the information the technology is helping us gather.” ■ Claudio Gottardi President, Marchon CEO, Marchon International “A business leader has the ability to foresee the market before it changes and develops strong partnerships. He ensures the company offers the best products, styling, price, marketing and customer service. They must be innovative. [For example] technology and 3D have come on to the market and Marchon is at the forefront with Marchon3D, ck3D, Nautica3D and others to come. “It is [part of] Marchon’s culture to adapt and grow with market changes. Part of my job is to ensure that we have a strong team that stays ahead of the competition. In order to position us for growth and to maintain our competitive edge we are investing heavily in our infrastructure, including major commitments in new offices, new design facilities and new system implementations. Also, VSP is an ever-present resource to our employees and we capitalize on the shared services they provide. “Marchon hires professionals with entrepreneurial experience and strong skill sets to build our team. Then we develop and nurture them within our organization and culture. Marchon is not trying to build a bigger eyewear industry; we’re trying to build a better one. “Technology advancements have [allowed us to] streamline our communication channels across the board and allowed us to communicate our information almost immediately.” ■ Mike Hundert CEO REM Eyewear “Leadership, at its core, has not changed in the last five years, nor in the last 500. Superior leadership is composed of a complex set of attained knowledge multiplied by a high degree of communication skills. What has changed in more recent times is the access to information. “In light of today’s economy, and the increasingly competitive business climate, simply put, we are going global. We are perpetually re-drawing the organizational chart of the company to reflect modern realities. There is no question that recent profound changes in the means, scope and reach of global communication have accelerated the speed of change on the local level. “I look within my organization for fresh leadership and management ideas. The ability to fit within the culture is the primary quality of determining whether a relationship works, and that’s where we focus our attention. We know that a cohesive team leads to superior experiences for our customers. “We follow the Kara Meyer school [of thought] to build our team and build our business through the genuine nurturing of relationships founded on loyalty and dependability. “Thanks to technology, the information available to us today is more abundant and immediate. Ten years in the business world today can translate to what thirty years (from1970- 2000) were before in terms of the ability to collect knowledge. It’s wonderful, but you can’t help but be a bit nostalgic for those simpler times. Still, don’t kid yourself; there is nothing that replaces good old-fashioned experience.” ■ Matthew H. Vulich Vice President Marketing AIT Industries “Being aware of more than just your niche in the industry and keeping up with the changes in other categories such as frames, lenses, software, manage care etc and how it will impact your business. Essentially you need a more macro view of the entire industry. How might the challenges within the industry changed, compared to, say, five years ago? The consolidation in the industry has made it difficult in terms of margin growth due to downward price pressure however finding the right strategy and partners are the keys to combating this. “As for technology, investment in new technology to operate our business more effectively, from phone system technology to software to manage the operation. When it comes to personnel, we just have not added but rather invested in technology to help people increase their capacity. “We have also studied several different sales and marketing leadership methodologies and have adapted it to our business and industry accordingly. “Since we are a sales and marketing company that needs strong service and support to deliver on our promises, we develop through long term training as an assistant and promote from within. “New technology has definitely made it easier, however the difficulty is finding the time to setup and implement certain technologies in order to improve things further. Managing for the short term is easy. It is the long term management that is difficult.” ■ Bob Brodney President Eye Care Associates “The same fundamentals for leadership have always existed: passion for the business, seeking to have honesty and ethics, operating from a place of integrity, understanding that you’re taking care of patients. Leadership is about anticipating the changes and challenges in the industry. “This is the time to devote even more resources to training. In a tough economy people would look to save money, but we are looking to be more innovative. With 19 locations, we started a communications center six months ago to receive inbound phone calls. We realized that would provide a better experience to patients which I’m sure that will make business flourish. “People always hope that technology will help them eliminate positions. Really, I think it reallocates your system. HER and accounting software has helped us leverage our staff so we haven’t had to add more people and have been more efficient. It’s more about a reassignment of the positions. “There are so many resources where we interact with peer groups and like-minded progressive organizations around the country. We’re also worked with Dr. Adam Grant, a professor from Wharton Business School, for the past three years. He’s helped with organizational behavior and motivation theory because you don’t just let good ideas sit in the corner office. You have to have them permeate throughout the whole organization. We bring managers together every two weeks: once to meet about business, and again to discuss development – any way to change the pattern and get people thinking so we can make everyone a leader. We’re also obsessive readers. “We build our organization through the Visionary Development Program (VDP). After a year, staff can apply to join the program and make certain commitments toward working on projects. By shadowing management, staff become more bonded and gain greater affinity of the company. We’ve shown better sustain rate when we immerse and keep people in the company. It’s part of our commitment to training and to the culture of the organization. “Anything that helps with communication is at a premium. I have a blog within our internet site so it’s so much easier to reach out to people. With 240 people in our group, no one feels far away because they have access. Now more than ever, there is an overload of information and it’s about figuring out what you need to help your business because you can get buried in it.” ■ David Friedfeld President ClearVision Optical “A business leader today has to be able to identify and analyze opportunities, communicate vision and lead company associates, as well as establish and protect the company culture. Additionally, they need to be able to allocate resources to priorities, avoid waste and inefficiency, identify talent, build a team and always be ready for the unexpected. All this 24/7, 365 days a year. While all of these abilities are always required for leaders in all generations, the speed, complexity, and global nature of business today is vastly different than even five years ago. “Currently, we are evaluating several parts of our business to insure our competitiveness. We are investing more in infrastructure, talent, and training and development. We have initiated an internal program that endeavors to engage employees in the “owner-operator” mentality with the express goal of encouraging employees to be a part of the profit-making equation in the organization. We study our competition twice annually. We are looking to hire the best talent available, and then create an environment where they can be successful. Personally, I am looking at my own leadership style and am making the necessary changes in order to be more effective facing future challenges and managing growth. “During the last three years we have added numerous management positions. We added talent during the tough economic time, so that when the business conditions turned around, we would be ready for the upswing. Additionally, we have initiated a team leadership program, added key staff to increase service or increase the effectiveness of a particular task. Finally, we had added sales staff as part of our OneSource philosophy of increasing service to our customers, through better market penetration in more manageable geographies. “Each employee and each sales consultant is open to continuous education and participates in the innovation in the company. Most of our recent hires (over 50 associates in the last three years) have been outside the optical industry. We believe that most talent is transferable. “New technology is a blessing, more than it is a curse. It allows for the leader to communicate with many people at once. All in all, technology is something you cannot stop, so leaders of today have to see technology as a benefit. Like any new toy, any technology is better and better the more you use it and the more you learn about it.” ■ John Carrier President Essilor of America “Maybe the most important characteristic of a leader is to have a vision of the great opportunities that exist in our industry. Then comes the ability to design the strategies to turn this vision into action by assembling the right partners and communicating appropriately. Lastly, but not least, the constant concern that all the stakeholders benefit from the opportunites. “We are constantly looking at how we allocate resources. First we make sure that we create efficiencies in all our operations to generate resources. And then we very carefully allocate those resources. Priority is given to resources that will generate innovation in products and services for our customers. “With all the opportunities that exist in our industry, with Essilor’s resources and innovation we are always looking for people with top talent that will bring their unique contribution to the growth of the industry. We are finding such people in our acquisitions but also inside and outside of our industry and we pay a lot of attention on how to grow talent internally. “Great ideas can be generated anywhere in time, place and scope. I love history books, it’s a good source for leadership and management ideas. Every week I call people that are a little bit outside of my day to day business contacts or colleagues that live on the other side of the world to ask for advice on something. I have a lot of admiration for lab managers and eyecare professionals who are fighting a tough battles everyday I always learn something when I talk to them. “I am very fortunate to have a great team of people around me. We try to attract people with unique talents who collaborate well with others and share our values. In my view, giving early on responsibilities with direct customer contact will always help people grow faster. “We invest a lot of time with select Universities to identify quality graduating students, have them join us through an extensive internship program which we use to make our full-time hiring decisions. “New technology makes it easier to be a leader. It generates market innovation, offers new avenues for communication and efficiencies. I think it helps us to involve more people in the decision making process and in the end it is important to remember that leadership is more about people than technology.” ■ Alexandra Charton Founder Prologue Vision “As the owner, creator, and designer of TC Charton, I find myself in the unique position of being accountable to my customers on all levels. I want to be accessible to them, and to let them know that I care about their needs and concerns. My success is only predicated on the quality of service my team and I can provide clients in order to maintain their trust and ensure long-term relationships. By paying attention to my customers’ needs, that personal connection serves as an inspiration and resource for my future growth strategy. “As a leader you should, learn from your past, stay in the present, and stay true to your mission statement. Staying lean and mindful of hasty decisions is also key in any economic climate. I have dedicated myself to fulfilling a long neglected need in this industry, and remain steadfast in nurturing that need to its fullest potential. “Being a young company and having been in the workforce through recessions, I have been careful in making hiring and growth decisions to keep my company lean and horizontal. There is a conscious choice to create multi-tasking positions and multi-functional investments, until there is a need to be specific. My top priority is to invest in R&D to satisfy consumers with good products. With a few good people behind me and a team of top quality suppliers, I have been able to expand at a rate that is acceptable financially and make progress which I am fairly comfortable with. “I want to be sure that people and businesses in association with me are aligned with my vision, and fully understand that if we, as a singular unit, can effectively convey that vision to our customers, the end result is customer satisfied and most importantly, customer retention. If I achieved this vision, I consider it a credible success. “With all the social networking tools that are available and utilized in businesses today, it can feel impersonal at times. However, combining the best of technology with personable customer service in the field still remains the most timeless and foremost approach in customer retention. “Advances in technology are available to everyone. Technology is a tool, like any tool. Its success is predicated on how fast you can adapt them to your own needs, and how well you can maximize the benefit of the tool. At present, viral marketing and social network sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook fan page help to create this sense of community with the consumers. I intend to make the most of it, by using it as a portal where I can ‘hear’ what my consumers need and continuously align my vision and their needs in real time, at all times.” ■ Darren Horndasch President and CEO Wisconsin Vision “I firmly believe that you have to remain entrenched in all aspects of the business: Being entrenched also means staying on top of trends, developing opportunistic relationships with vendors or other related partners. I not only like to know and preach the big picture, I want to know what is behind and supports the big picture. Obviously the economy has played the biggest role in the recent years. It has also opened the door to many more creative situations or just plain deals including product costs, lease costs and quality staff hires. “We are reviewing every aspect of our business and continually challenging ourselves to improve cost of sales and bring the best products available to our patients. Over the years we have embraced managed care as a business opportunity/partner. Today, one of the biggest challenges we face is the fact that many of these plans, in order to remain competitive to employers and employees, is to demonstrate deep discounts and low premium rates. This has come at the expense of the provider as more plans schedule out the specific co-pays to be paid by employee participants and at the same time becoming very aggressive in actual reimbursements to the providers for covered items. This is where it is extremely important to review all plans and set up available product offerings accordingly. “In addition, with the advent of more on-line purchases of contacts and products, not only have we found ourselves entering that arena, but we have taken steps to make our store staffs highly trained and educated so that our patients have a great experience in-store while also offering the convenience of online opportunities. We have embraced new technologies such as Quick Read tags, mobile versions of our website, social media (Twitter, Facebook), online scheduling, Groupon, and planning the next steps for our advanced point of sale system. Finally, we have engaged a new strategy within our marketing plan that includes the use of a celebrity spokesperson – something we had never done in the past. We felt strongly that in a down market, it was time for us to take advantage of media opportunity buys and make our company more of a household name in our markets. “We utilize staff talents. In the past, individuals may have had a job title that lent itself to specific duties. But, we have allowed individuals to use their talents in other areas of interest – which has benefited our company and patients. For example, one of our key staff had personal knowledge and interest on how to set up and work through online projects. This allowed us to create on our own. It also provided a new challenge to a seasoned staff person. “I make sure that I visit all of our locations and speak with the front line staff. Many great ideas come from discussing challenges they face day to day or even ideas that they may have for the company. I remain close to other industry veterans, leaders, vendor partners and competitors and share information. Finally, I look at what other retailers in non-optical industries are doing. It is interesting that although it may be a different end product many times the “game” is the same. “In my opinion, technology has made it easier to be a leader. We have ready access to data that improves our ability to react. When we engaged ABB/Concise to be our contact lens distributor they also became a partner in our contact lens business. The ability to get product to patients quicker, to set up on-line web ordering and the extensive reporting available to us is amazing. We are presently analyzing our frame business in a similar fashion. We can use technology to bring better products to market – our lab is now fully certified to produce “free form” lenses. Not only is this better to our bottom line, our patients are receiving the best products money can buy – great value proposition.” ■ David Holmberg President and CEO HVHC (Highmark Vision Holding Company) Chairman and CEO Eye Care Centers. “Focus is a necessary characteristic of being a business leader. You need a clear understanding of who the customer is and how your organization is aligned to serve. “We’re developing an increased focus on actionable information, an investment in core capabilities and making choices about what we are not going to do! “Most of our fresh ideas come from talking to our people and our customers – being inquisitive! We are investment in development of materials and classes on management and leadership, building individual competencies and reinforcing our believe that ‘people matter.’ “Technology helps. The immediate access to information allows us to evaluate customer feedback instantaneously and adjust accordingly in real time.” ■ We hope you’ve enjoyed our Special Report on Defining Leadership. If you are the leader of your own business, email us about your experiences and we’ll post them to a new section of VisionMonday.com where we’ll share points of view and resources for and about leadership.