Top Labs Earn High Marks in VM’s Annual ‘Checkup’

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View a PDF of this year's Top Labs Report 2017.
View a PDF of last year's Top Labs Report 2016.
View a PDF of Top Labs 2015.


NEW YORK—The history of the modern U.S. wholesale business can practically be summed up with two aphorisms: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” and “Only the strong survive.”

The first one applies to the dozens of labs that, over the past two decades, have been acquired by suppliers such as Essilor, Hoya and Zeiss. These wholesalers saw an opportunity to grow by vertically integrating themselves with one of the leading spectacle lens manufacturers. Labs that joined a supplier’s network could expect support in the form of capital investment and access to proprietary products and systems which would enable it to operate more efficiently and compete more effectively.

The second applies to the wholesale labs that have remained independent. Some have resisted the pull of the suppliers. Others may not have been courted by suppliers, or perhaps could not cut a deal with them for one reason or another.

Although their numbers are dwindling, due to industry consolidation, these wholesalers have survived by becoming tougher and more nimble. They have adapted to competitive challenges by employing a diverse set of strategies. Some have invested in new technologies. Others have formed alliances with suppliers that are not vertically integrated. All have forged closer relationships with their customers, the independent eyecare professionals and retailers with whom they are interdependent and attitudinally aligned.

Both types of wholesale labs are represented in Vision Monday’s 2017 Top Labs Report. This annual survey, which ranks the industry’s largest labs by Rx sales (pairs of prescription lenses produced) and the number of Rx jobs produced per day, can be viewed as a yearly checkup on the health of the wholesale lab sector. It provides a fresh look at the Top Independent U.S. Wholesale Labs and the Top U.S. Supplier-Owned U.S. Wholesale Lab Networks.

Published annually since 1991, the report also profiles each of the labs. The individual lab profiles indicate the lab’s ownership and key executives, and provide useful details such as their number of locations, number of employees, and proprietary products and special services they offer. This information, if viewed together, creates a rich and varied portrait of a vital sector of the optical industry.