Dan Bliss, the president of SD Eyes, formerly known as Silver Dollar Optical, is a product of working his way up through the ranks. Bliss began his career at the age of 23 for then-owner Ron Russ in sales, becoming the national sales manager and eventually vice president of sales. He and his wife, Nancy, bought the company in 2008. As Silver Dollar Optical evolved, it became apparent that a rebranding was necessary. Last month, the house-brand-only company with a penchant for good, old-fashioned customer service officially became SD Eyes. With nine distinct collections that cater to a wide patient demographic, SD Eyes is ready to meet and surpass the needs of eyecare professionals across the country.
MICHELE SILVER: What is the history of the company?
DAN BLISS: The company was first started in 1982. I started in 1983 in sales, and my wife Nancy started in 1989 in shipping and receiving. From a product point of view, originally we were a telemarketing company. The change for Silver Dollar came in 1993 when we [made the decision]to get into direct sales, [and today], 90% of our product is also through direct sales.
SILVER: What does the company name change from Silver Dollar to SD Eyes represent?
BLISS: We went through the rebranding process to better reflect the identity of who we are. Our new revamped website is sdeyewear.com. Silver Dollar did a wonderful job, but now we have a name to go with who we feel we are now. From a product point of view, there has been a huge change and evolution over time. Today, of course, we are marketing to every demographic.
SILVER: What are the company’s strengths in terms of staff longevity and customer service?
BLISS: The average employee has worked with us for 18 years. My initial hire here was in 1983, and he’s still working for us 23 years later. About 50% of our outside sales reps have been with us a minimum of 10 years. These guys are commissioned reps, so if they’re not making money with us, or they don’t feel we’re taking care of them or their customers, they’re going to move. We take care of our employees here. They like working with us, and it comes across in many ways.
SILVER: In what ways is SD Eyes a traditional company?
BLISS: We have a 112-page catalog that we print every year. I can’t tell you how many opticians tell us, ‘Please, guys, don’t ever stop printing this catalog.’ They love having it at the dispensing table.
SILVER: How do you react to the changing needs of the market?
BLISS: From a product point of view, we always have our head on a swivel. We’re always looking around to see what we want to do. We’re constantly evolving our own collections to address the needs of our customers.
SILVER: What do you think is most challenging about the eyewear industry right now?
BLISS: I think it’s protecting our ECPs and helping them stay strong. I believe they’re the backbone of our industry.
Online buying by the consumer is a problem, and I think it’s only going to get [worse]. But [they are]missing the professionalism that the eyecare professional can provide you: the fitting, the education of how to take care of the frames and the lenses
SILVER: Why do you think SD Eyes has been successful?
BLISS: We have a wonderful blueprint [based on]customer service. We have a two-year warranty on our products. But if somebody returns something that is two years and two months over the date, guess what? They get credit for it. There’s enough situations out there where opticians or ECPs are having ‘the big boys’ put limitations on them.
[We offer] very well-crafted, sellable, cost-conscious lines. We want to continue with growth and product styles, naturally. We honestly feel that our service will keep us in any office that gives us a shot. Once you try us, it’s very hard to find a reason to give up on us. The people who know us, love us. We just want to expand the people who know us.