Re-Definining Excellence: Three-Time Transitions Lab Of The Year Winner, Toledo Optical, Shares Blueprints For Success

By Jeff Szymanski, Vice President, Toledo Optical Laboratory, Inc.
The optical industry is extremely complex. So many products and services are available that it can sometimes be difficult to determine which ones are truly the best to sell and recommend to our customers. Figuring out the right mix of products – and the right partners – is more than half of the battle in achieving strong results and customer satisfaction.

We decided years ago that partnering with Transitions Optical, Inc. would help us realize the results we’ve been craving – and we continue to reap the rewards of that decision. Transitions Optical not only offers value-added products like Transitions lenses – a brand our customers both recognize and trust – but has also historically armed us with outstanding marketing support and education for both our staff and customers.

Earning the 2010 Transitions Lab of the Year title for the third time – and as Transitions Optical celebrates its 20th year – has been a tremendous honor for the entire Toledo Optical team. For more than a decade, our team has been committed to incorporating the Transitions brand into everything we do; and we’ve continued to see year-over-year growth of Transitions lenses, even in an uncertain economy. For us, the Transitions Lab of the Year title represents more than just an award from a vendor – it reinforces how working together, with one of our most valued partners, has helped us redefine excellence.

The Key to Conversion

In 2010, we really wanted to focus on converting clear lens wearers to Transitions lenses – a goal that involved getting both our internal team and our customers on board. While most of our long-time eyecare professional partners already maintain a high share of Transitions lenses, we had several new customers with more conservative sales. We made a decision in 2010 to really spend time with these customers to educate them on the benefits of Transitions lenses and arm them with the right tools to promote the lenses to their patients as a value-added product.

We believe the best way for our customers to promote Transitions lenses to their patients is by actually wearing the product themselves. When the optician or doctor is wearing Transitions lenses, it makes it exponentially easier for them to talk about the benefits and demonstrate how they activate by simply walking outside with their patients. They’re no longer reciting why the patient should choose Transitions lenses – they’re sharing their own experience with the product.

With this in mind, we provided more than 200 free fits of Transitions lenses to our top eyecare professional customers in 2010. As a result, we were able to achieve incremental growth.

Educating the Channel

Our education efforts have been critical to our success. We strongly believe in our role to provide better, more useful education throughout all channels of the industry – including our own personnel, our eyecare professional customers, and ultimately the consumers who are purchasing our products.

We keep our entire staff up-to-speed on all the latest products and technologies available – including Transitions lenses and the entire Transitions Family of Brands, from Transitions XTRActive lenses to Transitions SOLFX sun lenses. We send all of our sales consultants to Transitions Academy each year to learn about the latest products available from Transitions Optical, and also meet for weekly meetings, where we’ll discuss any new programs or tools.

We also take significant strides to educate our customers throughout the year. In 2010, we performed upwards of 200 lunch and dinner seminars for business owners, where we discussed the benefits of recommending higher-performing lens options and combinations – like Transitions lenses with an anti-reflective (AR) coating, which we believe is the best healthy sight lens option for consumers. We also talked about the importance of this recommendation coming from the doctor.

In 2010, we worked closely with Transitions Optical and the Williams Group to create a first-of-its-kind educational event called “Get There From Here.” This initiative – which kicked off with a full-day seminar in May – was designed to help our customers better understand the business side of the industry and the need to better embrace the dispensary to drive profitability with value-added products like Transitions lenses. The full-day seminar was followed with six months of targeted training initiatives, comprised of free webinars, office meetings and pinpoint assessments. Our joint success was phenomenal – and many of our customers saw their share of Transitions lenses grow to nearly 40 percent as a result.

Last, but not least, we always include a Transitions Certificate of Authenticity (COA) with each order of Transitions lenses, and encourage our customers to talk about the COA with their patients, reinforcing that they’re getting the real deal.

Promoting Success

Toledo Optical included Transitions lenses in all of our marketing and promotional efforts in 2010 – and with each promotion, we’ve noticed an increase in sales.

We offered savings on Transitions lenses throughout the year – holding multiple promotions geared toward driving sales of Transitions lenses with an AR coating. Our “Spectral Magic” promotion, for example, was geared toward driving usage of Transitions lenses in the children’s category. During the promotion, we urged our customers to recommend Transitions lenses with an AR coating to kids. We offered tiered discounts – the first five lenses were free to them, the second five sets were offered at a 50 percent discount, and so forth. Our overarching goal was to change behaviors and get our customers to always recommend Transitions lenses with an AR coating as the best primary pair of lenses for kids. The promotion was extremely successful – and we noticed an uptake in this recommendation, even after discounts were no longer offered.

Every year, we also hold a Transitions Grand Event to reward our top customers for their high sales of Transitions lenses. To qualify for this incentive, our customers were asked to recommend Transitions lenses to all of their patients during a three-month period, and meet a specific goal. More than 500 of our partners met their goals and joined us for a day-long trip to Put-In-Bay, a scenic island on the waters of Lake Erie.

One of the greatest benefits of working with Transitions Optical has been the ability for us to leverage their successful promotions and partnerships to increase our bottom line. We have taken full advantage of Transitions Optical’s sponsorship of the Transitions Championship. In 2010, for example, we asked our customers to recommend Transitions lenses to all of their patients – then created a lottery of those who did and offered free trips to Florida for the Transitions Championship event in March.

Meeting Our Goals

Toledo Optical takes great pride in the relationships that we build and develop with our employees, suppliers and customers. We recognize the obligation we have to deliver a superior product, and – in the most honest and ethical way possible – always focus on delivering a customer experience that is second to none.

We are committed to our partnership with Transitions Optical, as they have consistently gone above and beyond our expectations to provide quality products, education and resources to help us satisfy our customers and meet our goals.


Established in 1947, Toledo Optical Laboratory, Inc. is a family owned and operated wholesale optical laboratory headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Toledo Optical fabricates customized ophthalmic eyewear for independent eyecare professionals throughout the greater Midwest, with a goal of providing the finest quality product in the quickest amount of time. Toledo’s commitment to ensuring the success of its customers has led to laboratory growth in the past several years. For more information about the company, visit


Now in its 20th year, the Transitions Lab of the Year award is presented to an independent lab that has shown the highest level of commitment to growing its business with Transitions Optical’s Family of Products and programs over the past year. Criteria include innovation and creativity in executing marketing programs and promotions; commitment to educating staff and customers; efforts to promote healthy sight to customers and within the lab’s local community; strong results and growth with Transitions lenses over the past year; and overall passion for and devotion to the Transitions brand.

Past Lab of the Year winners in the U.S. include: Winchester Optical (2009); Balester Optical (2008); Soderberg Ophthalmic Services (2007); Toledo Optical (2006); Diversified Ophthalmics (2005); Jorgenson Optical Supply (2004); Toledo Optical (2003); 21st Century Optics (2002); Soderberg Ophthalmic Services (2001); Midland Optical (2000); McLeod Optical (1999); Balester Optical (1998); Walman Optical (1997); Three Rivers Optical (1996); Duffens Optical (1995); Benedict Optical (1994); Southern Optical (1993); Optical Supply, Inc. (1992); and W.O.S. (1991).

For more information about the Transitions Lab of the Year award, visit the “Partner Awards” section within the “Programs” tab of


BRAZIL: Unilab Soluçõus Ópticas, Fortaleza- Ceará

A long-time supporter of the Transitions brand, Unilab made converting clear lens wearers to Transitions lenses a top priority in 2010. As a result of all of its efforts, Unilab was able to nearly double its sales of Transitions lenses over the past year.

Unilab held several trainings for its staff and customers in 2010 to get them up-to-speed on the latest products and resources available from Transitions Optical. The lab’s “Gospel College” program provided targeted training to customers – from offering basic information about Transitions lenses, to tips for dispensing them to patients.

Unilab also held several successful promotions in 2010. During its “Easter Show” and “World Cup” promotions, Unilab rewarded customers for their strong sales of Transitions lenses. Both of these promotions led to double-digit growth. A third promotion – Verão Unilab – thanked customers who met specific goals with an all-day trip for two to Beach Park, the largest aquatic park of Latin America. This campaign lasted two months, and resulted in more than a 50 percent growth over the same period in 2009.

This is the first time Unilab has been named a Transitions Lab of the Year winner. Finalists for the eighth-annual Transitions Lab of the Year award for Brazil also included Art Lens Laboratório Óptico and PSA Nilo Laboratório Óptico.

LATIN AMERICA: Servióptica/Superlens, Colombia

Ever since Servióptica/Superlens won the 2005 Transitions Lab of the Year title for Latin America, the lab has been eager to take home the honor again. In 2010, the lab really raised the bar, and incorporated the Transitions brand into all of its major marketing and education initiatives.

In addition to providing its staff and customers with ongoing education and training on Transitions Optical’s products and programs, Servióptica/Superlens introduced several successful marketing and promotional efforts throughout the year. The lab’s efforts to position Transitions Brown as the best, primary pair of lenses were so successful in Colombia, that they were implemented in other countries.

Servióptica/Superlens was also the first lab to offer and promote Drivewear Transitions SOLFX lenses in Colombia – reinforcing through education and creative marketing strategies that these lenses should be offered to all customers as the best second pair option.

As a result of all of its initiatives, Servióptica/Superlens achieved double-digit growth with Transitions lenses in 2010, and has seen a steady growth in sales over the past five years.

This is the second time Servióptica/Superlens has been named the Transitions Lab of the Year for Latin America. Other finalists for the eighth-annual Transitions Lab of the Year award for Latin America also included Center Laboratorios Opticos (Mexico) and Vector (Argentina).


Labtalk June 2020