WITCHITA, Kan.—When Mark Nordyke and Richard Huynth combined their experience and expertise to build a new wholesale optical lab in Wichita, Kansas, they believed they would hit a home run. Today, less than two years after opening their lab, Optical Resources Group services about 200 accounts nationally and is fast becoming one of the leading wholesalers in the Midwest. In the wholesale lab business, that’s certainly a homer.

Nordyke, founder and CEO of Optical Resources Group (ORG), knows baseball. A former college baseball player who had dreams of making it to the majors, he grew up working in his father’s optical retail business, which he later helped to grow into an eight-store chain.

Huynth, who serves as executive vice president and director of marketing, began his career as an optician, working with several major optical retail chains. In addition to Optical Resources Group, he is also the owner of CustomEyes, a retail store in Wichita.

The partners knew that by working together they could meet the demands of customers seeking exceptional products and service. “I know what it requires and takes to serve ECPs. They need a lab that supports you and works with you, so we decided to make that happen. We were going to have to do it ourselves,” said Nordyke, who ensured there was a touch of baseball throughout the lab’s design and décor.

“I grew up in Wichita and attended Wichita Southeast High School,” recalled Nordyke. “There I played three sports: football, basketball and baseball. The 1978 Southeast baseball team went undefeated at 23-0 and was awarded the Mythical National Championship.”

He earned a baseball scholarship to Kansas State University. He finished his college career at Wichita State University, where he made it to the College World Series championship game. “I played a short stint after graduation in Madison, Wisconsin where I broke my ankle, and that was the end of my baseball career. This was my inspiration for the name of our Optical Resources Group ‘Field of Dreams Laboratory.’ It has caught on and seems to resonate with our ECPs.”

Visitors who enter the lab are greeted by a sign that reads, Optical Resources Group, Field of Dreams Laboratory. On the next wall, it simply states, “Build It and They Will Come,” a nod to the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner as an Iowa farmer who hears a secret voice that inspires him to turn his cornfield into a place where dreams can come true. When “Field of Dreams” lab opened in 2019, ECPs did, in fact, come, responding to the partners’ promise of attentive service, high quality eyewear produced with the latest lens technology and fair prices.

When developing their business model, Nordyke and Huynth each drew from their extensive optical experience. Nordyke started out grinding lenses for his father’s practice, Howard’s Optical Dispensary. He worked at Howard’s during junior high and high school before joining the business full time in 1983.

“As vice president, I helped grow the business from two stores to eight stores in the Kansas market,” Nordyke said. “In 2000, I retired and for 19 years I fished, played golf, and ran out of things to do. In May 2019, I bought Howard’s Optical and returned to the optical industry. Immediately after my return, I realized that it was essential to have my own wholesale laboratory to compete with all the new innovations in the optical field.”

Huynth started his optical career as an optician and lab technician. “I often had dual roles as general manager and lab manager for the big box companies,” he explained. “I’ve worked in low and high-volume stores for National Vision, U.S.Vision, Luxottica and Eyemart Express. “This led me into multi-unit managing roles for optical companies where I spent a good portion of my career.

Huynth consistently pushes himself to learn more and more about optical manufacturing. “I believe that if you understand how something is made and manufactured, your patients and customers will trust your advice on optical technology that fits their lifestyle.”

When purchasing lens processing technology for ORG, Nordyke and Huynth turned to top equipment suppliers such as Satisloh, Santinelli International and Ultra Optics. The lab uses a Satisloh 380 box coater to do all its AR coating in-house, including Shamir Glacier Plus—ORG is a Shamir-certified lab—as well as a wide selection of mirrored finishes.

“With Optical Resources Group, AR coating goes on every job we do at no additional charge. This is one of the best values out there,” said Nordyke, adding that ORG also does the lab work for Howard’s Optical Dispensary.

Huynth’s experience working in the optical industry for more than 13 years has made him keenly aware of the needs of opticians and optometrists. He believes the most important concern for ECPs is fast turnaround time.

“Getting a lens back in two weeks is unacceptable, when we know it can be turned around in a couple of days,” Huynth said, adding, “Optical Resources Group made this their focus as they implemented manufacturing and service protocols that meant ECPs could get their lenses back without a long wait.”

Offering a product to match exceptional turnaround times has been pivotal to ORG’s success. Nordyke understands ECPs want to be able to offer their customers an affordable lens option while still being able to maximize profits. To achieve this, Nordyke and Huynth worked with several lens designers to put together a portfolio that addresses the patient’s specific vision needs, including lenses from IOT and a variety of private label options.

“Our private label is all structured around Field of Dreams,” said Nordyke, noting the lab offers 16 different designs under this banner. “Our top tier is the ‘Home Run.’ It is the best Camber product in the business, using the Younger Camber product along with the IOT lens design. We also have the Triple Play, Double Play, and the Home Plate.”

A One-Stop Solution
A tighter economy means smaller margins for many ECPs who are looking for new and innovative ways to dispense glasses. The Optical Resources Group has met this challenge head on, partnering with several frame suppliers to offer packages to ECPs.

The ORG licensing program is a relatively new idea in the U.S., offering ECPs the opportunity to sell name brand and licensed merchandise in their stores. ORG sends sample pairs to the offices, while keeping the inventory in house. The ECP simply needs to provide the frame details such as size and color, along with the Rx and Optical Resources Group handles the rest.

“We put in the brands and manage it for them. They also then have a special price through the lab,” said Nordyke. The result is faster turnaround times since there is no waiting on a frame to follow when putting the order together. “It doesn’t add to the cost basis for the ECP.”

The Future Is Bright
Babe Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Nordyke, the former ballplayer, has had his share of strikes while building ORG from scratch. Like the great Yankee slugger, he keeps a positive attitude, seeing each challenge as a learning opportunity.

Drawing on their years of experience, Huynth and Nordyke have created a solid foundation for continued growth for ORG. They said sales have already exceeded the projections they laid out in their five-year plan.

“My main focus is being able to handle all the accounts with integrity,” said Nordyke. “We treat them all like family. We had growing pains when we first got started. The key is how you respond to those challenges.”