Rob Maser is the Director of Commercial Sales for Wiley X, Inc., a position he has held for over 10 years. Rob is responsible for domestic and international sales and marketing in the optical and safety industries for Wiley X. Prior to Wiley X, Rob was an executive in the commercial insurance and risk management fields. Here Rob speaks about the company’s new kids’ line and Wiley’s unique sales program.
BETH SCHLAU: Is Wiley X’s new Youth Force collection strictly for sports?
ROB MASER: We primarily designed Youth Force as a kids’ sports safety line, but it became exceptionally important during the development process that kids would want to wear this product off the field as well. Before we brought the collection to market we looked not only at the frame design but also the colors and the variety of styles so that when the kids are finished with sports for the day and go hang out with their friends they will wear their Wiley X glasses because they like them so much.
BETH: Did you involve kids in doing your research when you were designing the collection?
ROB: We had many children evaluate it to get their input on fit, comfort, and styling. We asked them: “Is it too bulky? Too small? Is it comfortable? Is the nosepiece soft enough? What do you think of the colors?” We also fit many kids with prescriptions to ensure we had the Rx process correct. Children are the focus, so we wanted to make sure they liked the line.
BETH: What was the development process for Youth Force?
ROB: We took our time developing this line to make sure we got it right. We wanted to provide kids from about age 5 to the early teens with quality, stylish sport protective eyewear. Some of the research we conducted was on children’s average head size and how that translates into eyesize. We also spoke to practitioners, especially in pediatrics, to find out where they see the most application for kids’ sports. We researched what sports children are playing at what ages and what size a kid is at those ages. And because it’s sports eyewear, we needed to be sure that it met ASTM F803 impact safety standards for various sports.
BETH: Wiley X doesn’t have sales reps that go into the field. What’s the reasoning behind this?
ROB: Our day-to-day sales to the optical market are handled by an inside sales force from our headquarters, mostly because it’s far more efficient. Our salespeople can contact a lot more ECPs in a day over the phone versus a much smaller number that can be physically visited. More connections enable a deeper understanding of our customers and stronger relationships.
BETH: How does it work?
ROB: We’ve built simple programs for practitioners to make it easy for them to evaluate product, earn displays, submit Rx orders, etc. These programs, along with regular contact with their sales rep, have earned us the reputation of being easy to work with. It’s a source of pride for Wiley X. When we’re first working with a practice, the sales rep asks the necessary questions to help understand the practice. The rep then explains which styles would be a good fit for their practice, and together they work on an opening order. Some practices want to select the styles themselves, others want to trust our salespeople because they know we’re the experts on our product, and still others work together with the salesperson to decide what is best for the practice. All along, we want to gain a better understanding of the practice and help their business grow.
BETH: What kind of training do you do with the practices?
ROB: The sales rep conducts training on our products and programs at the beginning. A lot of this product training involves walking through how our removable foam attaches and detaches from our Climate Control frames. Our prescription director and his team do Rx training too, which is very important because we’re talking about an 8-base wrap sun that also has to meet ANSI safety standards. In addition, we are relaunching our website in the near future which will have training videos for ECPs. Training ECPs is critical for us because they are our connection to the consumer.
BETH: Do all your frames meet safety standards?
ROB: Yes. Every single one of our frames meets the ANSI Z87.1-2010 industrial safety standard, and our Youth Force line meets the ASTM F803 youth sports safety standard. We’re the only premium performance sunwear brand whose entire sunwear line meets industrial safety standards. We took our heritage of protective optics and our success protecting the military and law enforcement personnel and put all that protection into the development of our commercial line. We’ve woven in the safety aspect of our technology into a fashionable, comfortable, and top-quality collection.
BETH: Are you working on any new lens technology?
ROB: DigiForce is our proprietary free-form lens that we’ve designed specifically for our 8-base sun and safety frames. It is only available through our lab. We’ve also developed an Rx lens design that has increased the Rxability of our frames. It’s known as Digital Edge Thinning technology. It’s expanded the Rx parameters of almost all of our wrap frames to -7.00D and +5.00D and enables lighter and thinner lenses at higher prescriptions.