Up Close and Personal with Expert Optics

By Christie Walker

On a recent trip to Shorewood, Illinois, I had the pleasure of taking a tour of Expert Optics and chatting with owner, Greg Ruden. 

Q: What makes Expert Optics unique in the world of optical labs?

There is not a laboratory in America that offers more free-forms designs fabricated in one facility than Expert. We only outsource a total of two percent of the orders we receive.

Q: I know staying independent is important to you...how does being an independent lab give you an advantage over manufacturer-owned labs?

We are extremely close to our clients. When we make decisions we do so to benefit our co-workers, clients and their customers/patients. Our focus is not on our shareholders.

Q: As an independent lab, you constantly have to keep on your toes. What new innovations have you instituted to make your lab the "go to" lab?

We continue to invest in new equipment that allows us to do a better job on the more challenging eyewear vs. purchasing equipment as a replacement for older equipment.

Q: Give us a short rundown of what equipment you use for surfacing and finishing and why?

Expert runs two complete Satis/Loh digital surfacing lines six days/week. Our finish department runs five days/week with four robotic edgers two of which are used for 8 base wraps, which are mostly for the sunwear orders we receive. We have two special Santinelli edgers for processing Chemstrie sunwear click ons.

Q: You have some great AR products. How do you position them to your clients?  Do you also offer your own brand of AR?

We process the complete family of Crizal products including Prevencia; Zeiss, Teflon and two house brands.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face today in operating your lab? 

The ongoing maintenance of the sophisticated equipment and continual implantation of the new lens designs from the plethora of brands that we offer.

Q: Where do you see your lab five years from now?

That’s a great question. In today’s marketplace (consolidations, vertical integration, buying groups, and managed care) coupled with the economy I’ve learned not to plan that far out.

Q: How will you get there, with there being five years from now?

One step at a time. We must focus on the now with eyes just a little bit ahead.

Q:  In closing, brag a little. What do you love the most about your company?

We enjoy coming to work every day knowing that we have the ability to provide the solutions to offer our ECP’s patients the best vision possible. We have the freedom to make autonomous decisions with our client’s best interest at heart. The family environment that is created in our facility is one where you would want your family to experience. We love challenges. To be put to the test and wow our clients gives us great pleasure.

Lab Stats

Owner/president: Greg Ruden

Location/locations city/state: Shorewood, IL and South Bend, IN

How long in business: 1979

Jobs per day: 895

Square Footage of Lab: 32,000







Labtalk June 2020