Candid conversations between VCPN’s editors and leading optical executives about their product strategies.
Barney Dougher, President, HOYA Vision Care, North America, together with his brother, sold their company, Lens Lab, in 1999 to the ORI Group and then to HOYA Corp. in 2000. Barney subsequently held the positions of Regional Vice President, National Sales Manager, and COO at HOYA before becoming its president in 2005. He is responsible for the management of 30 custom optical manufacturing labs that produce more than 13,000 pair of prescription eyeglasses daily. Here, he talks about HOYA’s commitments to the marketplace, specifically its customers.
ED DE GENNARO: Your website announces that HOYA uses a “re- search-oriented approach.” What did you discover in your research?
BARNEY DOUGHER: We learned that scientists and experts are sometimes limited in their view of the real world, so we implemented a project-based research approach that integrates knowing and doing as part of the solution. This method refocuses education on the ECP as opposed to a product. It’s a shift mandated by the global world that rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. These must be activated through experience. For example, independent ODs provide 68% of the eye exams in this country, however sell only 48% of the eyewear. HOYA will leverage this knowledge to help independent ODs educate their patients and differentiate their practices.
ED: Why did you feel a need for a progressive lens certification program?
BARNEY: HOYA is committed to providing our customers and their staff with educational solutions to deliver quality vision to their patients. The HOYA Certified Technology Expert Program offers a blended training program focusing on clinical education for all experience levels in order to enhance the patient experience throughout the practice.
ED: What was the impetus for offering the HOYA DF distortion-free optics frame/lens combo?
BARNEY: HOYA is a laboratory network whose primary commercial activity is the development and manufacturing of lens products and coatings that benefit society. The DF story is quite different from the usual frame and lens pairing as we positioned the product as a vision system free of lens stress and chromatic aberration. The unique mounting system and HOYA lens optics combination helps ensure distortion-free vision. We continue to seek new and innovative combinations that will provide the best optics applications.
ED: What’s the potential for digital lenses?
BARNEY: The way we interact with our world has changed dramatically in the past decade. With today’s ubiquitous digital devices, our patients’ visual needs are often not met with just one pair of eyeglasses. Because patients research and buy the latest devices, they understand and appreciate high-tech lenses that make them more comfortable and productive for intermediate and near tasks.
Presbyopes aren’t the only patients who can benefit from specialized lenses-just about everyone is a candidate. Younger patients use digital devices constantly; in fact, many school districts are starting to issue iPads to their students.
ED: Will high-energy visible (HEV) protection become as common as UV protection is today?
BARNEY: Doctors and scientists say yes. Our environment has changed, and our lens treatments will also change accordingly. Consumer education and awareness are vital to this process. Of course, HEV protection will only be accepted by patients if they like the way it looks and functions. HOYA’s Recharge is the first blue filtering anti-reflective treatment commercially available that looks great, so patients love the way it looks and appreciate the protection is provides.
ED: As the lens market continues to change, how is HOYA positioning itself to succeed?
BARNEY: To succeed in our industry, you must grow and there are two ways to grow: organically and through mergers and acquisitions. HOYA is the ally of the independent practice and we strive to empower our customers with science, technology, and innovation. If we deliver on this, our customers will be more able to educate their patients and differentiate themselves. When this happens, we will all succeed.
From an acquisition standpoint, HOYA will always be looking for opportunities to strengthen its position and better serve our customers. We will also entertain strategic partnerships with companies that share our values and bring value to the independent practice.
ED: What is the biggest threat to the independent practice right now?
BARNEY: While there are many threats, I believe commoditization is among the biggest. There is constant pressure on products and the “value” of services. Without proper perspective and education on premium products and services, the only thing patients have for assessing value is price. HOYA will do its part to help combat this problem by consistently bringing new technology to the market and finding innovative ways to educate patients.