Following our reaction to the merger of Essilor and Luxottica in this space last month, industry veteran Patrick Dundas shared the following:

“Here’s a little personal insight. My optical industry career began in 1958 with American Optical Company (AO) at 25 Kearny Street in San Francisco. Under one roof, in a six-story building, we proudly served the company’s northwest region with its 18 optical labs. Under one roof, as part of the world’s largest optical company, we serviced eyecare professionals with AO-manufactured frames, lenses, eyeglass cases, sunglasses, ophthalmic instruments, lab equipment, dispensing furniture, tools and supplies. On the third floor, we operated the region’s busiest wholesale lab. My history with AO spanned 25 years where I witnessed firsthand the work of optical industry giants and the company’s seemingly endless run of market breakthroughs and industry firsts. Notably, AO people in countless numbers carried their pride and experience on to every corner of the optical industry to help form what eventually has become EssilorLuxottica. I believe the historical context here is rather remarkable.”

The term “under one roof” that Dundas uses when discussing the history of American Optical is a reference to the Views on this page last month, which referred to the newly formed EssilorLuxottica company as being “under one roof” because now it has become even more vertically integrated than before. He makes the valid point that this isn’t the first time (and likely will not be the last) that one large conglomerate in the optical field was responsible for such a wide range of products in so many categories.

Other industry veterans also pointed out that it wasn’t that long ago when it was the optical laboratories that were more vertically integrated in the past, offering frames along with an extensive array of product lines.

It’s clear that as consolidation continues the pendulum appears to be swinging back toward more, rather than less, vertical integration. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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