Services to be Held for Longtime Industry Exec Craig Giles on Jan. 13

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APPLE VALLEY, Minn.—A memorial service will be held here next week for longtime optical laboratory executive and a respected member of the optical industry, Craig Giles, 61. As VMAIL reported last Friday, Giles, passed away Jan. 1 at his home after a long illness. The memorial service is 1:00 pm on Monday, Jan.13 here at River Valley Church. Giles joined Walman Optical in 2005 when Walman Optical purchased Soderberg Optical and served in senior management roles until his retirement in 2015.

At the time of the purchase, Giles was the president of Soderberg Ophthalmic Services as well as serving on Soderberg’s board of directors. He started at Soderberg as a territory manager based out of Jackson, Mich. In 1987, he moved to St. Paul, Minn. to the position of branch manager and general manager of the St. Paul Optical laboratory, the largest branch office of the company at the time. In 1993, he became the regional manager of sales and operations for half the branches of the company.

From 1997 to 1999, Giles served as the vice president of sales, and then as vice president of sales and marketing from 1999 until 2004. In 2004, he became president of Soderberg. During his tenure as VP of sales and marketing, he spearheaded two critical initiatives for Soderberg. First, he was responsible for starting Soderberg’s Preferred Select Buying Group, which turned into a multimillion dollar business within two years. Then, he was responsible for driving sales and manufacturing of freeform lenses to its customer base. Soderberg was the first lab in the U.S. to be successful in manufacturing and sales of freeform lenses at that time. (circa 2002)

Most recently, up until the time of his death, Giles served as president of the UMOGD Sight Preservation Foundation, which is a 501 (c) (3) charitable foundation that raises money for visually and physically disabled young people, specifically for the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault, Minn. Giles served on the Global Optics board of directors first as secretary/treasurer, then vice president until 2014 when he stepped down due to health issues. He served as a regional director on the Optical Laboratory Association from 2002-2004. Until January of 2016, Giles served on the Walman Optical board of directors as well as the charitable committee and the E.S.O.P. committee.

Giles graduated from Anoka Hennepin Technical College with a certificate in Optical Technology in 1977. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1982 and an MBA from the College of St. Thomas in 1993. In 2007, Craig was given the “Inspiration & Spirit Award” at the Walman NSM.

In 2016, Giles was inducted into The Vision Council's Optical Lab Division Hall of Fame.

A guest book which can take posts or photos is available via Legacy.com here.