Spotlight On... COLA

By Labtalk Staff

TEMECULA, Calif.—Lab executives and industry leaders gathered here April 27 and 28 for the 2017 meeting of the California Optical Laboratories Association (COLA). Now affiliated with the Lab Division of The Vision Council, COLA, which was founded in 1957, has provided its members with a venue for education and networking and, since 1981, recognized local lab leaders with its annual Goodfellow Award.

Held at the Temecula Creek Inn, situated on a hillside overlooking Southern California’s wine country, this year’s event kicked off with a golf tournament, followed by the Goodfellow Dinner. This year’s honoree, the 36th industry leader to receive the award, was Ken Lin of X-Tra Lite Optical in Huntington Beach, Calif. Lin, an electrical engineer with degrees from the University of California-Irvine, worked at Northrop Grumman for several years before joining X-Tra Lite, the family business (the lab was started by his parents), in 1994. He has since taken on several leadership positions within the industry, including in COLA, and has also been active in several vision-related charitable initiatives.

Phil Epperson, long-time COLA member and a former Goodfellow honoree himself, described the Goodfellow as a “giver and a doer, not a taker,” before handing the mic over to Terry Yoneda, West Coast Area Sales Manager for Younger Optics, who introduced Lin. Upon receiving the honor, Lin said, “I never planned to be in this business. I have been very blessed.” Of COLA, he added, “We are all competitors, but away from the lab, away from work, we can all hang out. That’s what makes this group so special.”

The following day’s education sessions focused on the theme of “Industry 4.0”—which has been described as the next generation of automation and data exchange in manufacturing. Speakers included Ashley Mills, CEO, The Vision Council, who shared updates on the Vision Expos and current consumer outreach efforts. Mike Karlsrud, president, The Karlsrud Company, shared the seven key skills of successful business leaders, and noted that, “Change is not just putting in a new piece of equipment. Change is hard.”

Specifically on the keynote theme, Dale Turner and Xiaochun Li, PhD, of the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, a think tank spearheading the U.S. government’s Industry 4.0 efforts, presented on the concept and the resources that are available to business owners interested in bringing their facilities in line with emerging standards for efficiency and data sharing. Steele Young, Satisloh; Kevin Cross, Schneider Optical Machines; Bill Ball and John Keane, DVI; Robb Kohn, A&R; and Fabio Verzeri, MEI, then discussed how their respective companies were working with customers to prepare them for Industry 4.0.

“Our industry needs the super ninja geek desperately,” Young said. “We need new tools to make better decisions. Data is good for nothing unless we process it.” He and the other vendor representatives described how each of their companies are working to improve automation, efficiency and data exchange for their systems.

The event closed with Michael Vitale, Technical Director, The Vision Council, sharing updates on California Proposition 65 and ANSI and ISO standards, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Unique Device Identification (the Vision Council recently successfully petitioned the FDA to exempt optical labs from this regulation). Hedley Lawson, Managing Partner, Aligned Growth Partners, then discussed the potential impact of the new minimum wage on optical labs.


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May/June LabTalk 2017