When COLTS Laboratories president Kimberly Hutton talks about the company her father founded 20 years ago, it’s easy to tell it’s a source of pride. “Sticking around for this long and expanding into different areas has been a big success,” said Hutton, who has worked with founder (and her father) John M. Young since COLTS opened its doors in 1997.
After retiring from Essilor, Young, who passed away last month, started consulting firm IPI Associates, and it was there that he was approached by several manufacturers and retailers about the need to offer independent testing. “He thought it was important to give manufacturers a way to validate marketing claims and their own testing, as well as assist labs with lens buying decisions,” she said. And despite early challenges, such as concerns that COLTS would become the company setting standards for which it would also conduct the testing, Hutton said its greatest success is to have contributed to “a more quality-minded industry.”
Steve Sutherlin, Lab Division liaison at The Vision Council, which inducted Young into its Hall of Fame last year, recalled Young as “forward-thinking” for opening the first stand-alone testing facility. ”From a lab standpoint, his help in navigating the very difficult waters of FDA compliance and with product testing was an enormous help to many of us,” Sutherlin said.
COLTS, which has expanded into testing product categories such as cleaners and cloths as well as safety eyewear and helmets, is ready to adapt to the shifts, according to Hutton: “The optical industry is changing in the way they purchase and market products, so our goal is to learn in these new markets.”