By Brian Dunleavy
Lab executives gathered at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on the eve of Vision Expo West to celebrate the contributions of industry leaders as part of The Vision Council Lab Division Directors’ Choice and Hall of Fame ceremony.
Presented with the Directors’ Choice Award by Zyloware Vice Chairman Henry Shyer and Lab Division Chair Drake
McLean, James C. Tooke, a graduate of Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) and decorated
veteran of the Vietnam War, first entered the optical industry in 1972, serving as a territory manager for Univis. In 1977, he started Independent Multi-Line Sales with coverage of the Midwest. After carrying a variety of lines, he has sold Zyloware Eyewear, where he is Regional Account Manager, for the past 37 years, along with Art-Craft Safety. Tooke is a two-time recipient of the Midwest Optical Laboratory Association Man of the Year award.
Hall of Fame inductee Craig D. Giles, recently retired executive vice president/GM, Walman Optical, joined what is the
industry’s largest lab in 2005 after it purchased his former employer, Soderberg Optical. Giles started at Soderberg in 1982. From 1997 to 1999, Craig served as Vice President, Sales, and then as Vice President, Sales and Marketing from 1999 until 2004. During this time, he spearheaded the company’s Preferred Select Buying Group and drove sales and manufacturing of freeform lenses, making Soderberg the first U.S. lab to successfully process and distribute the novel technology. He is currently serving as President of the UMOGD Sight Preservation Foundation, which raises money for visually and physically disabled young people, specifically for the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault, Minn.
Fellow inductee Michael C. Vitale, ABOM, LDO, NCLE, has been in the optical industry since 1977 and currently holds the position of Technical Director and Lens Division Liaison, The Vision Council. He began his career at the wholesale lab Lens Tec Inc. In 1990, he joined Essilor, where he managed a lens testing facility responsible for the development and implementation of lens processing techniques. He was also directly responsible for the launch of Essilor Laboratory University, a week-long training program to educate laboratory personnel on lens processing techniques. Vitale served as Director of Corporate Quality from 1999 to 2002, when he joined Sutherlin Optical in Kansas City, Mo. as Director of Operations. During his tenure at Sutherlin, Vitale was the Principle Educator for their customer service team and was responsible for customer continuing education. In 2006, he returned to Essilor as Director, Corporate Quality. Vitale also served as Chairman of the Lens Marking Task Force, as the first Chairman of the Mass Lens Manufacture Committee, and as Co-Chair of the Lens Description Standard.
Christie Walker, the recently retired editor of LabTalk, is a lifelong journalist who started covering the optical industry in
1997, when she took the reins of this publication. Walker has been a reporter for Jobson’s Vision Monday at 38 consecutive Vision Expos. In 2011, she was honored by the Optical Women’s Association with the Pleiades Award, which spotlights an individual who has shown commitment to fostering the leadership role of women in the optical industry.
Fellow inductee Dick Whitney has been in the optical industry since 1974, when he joined the central testing lab at
American Optical (AO). He currently serves as Manager of Industry Standards for Carl Zeiss Vision, and has chaired
The Vision Council’s Lens Technical committee since 1997. Whitney is also Chair of ANSI Z80.1 and has been involved
in ANSI, ISO, and The Vision Council’s committee work for 25 years. In addition, he is also the Executive Director of the Zeiss-sponsored Optical Heritage Museum in Southbridge, Mass.
Another AO veteran, John M. Young, Founder, Colts Laboratories, was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. An engineer and optician, he holds a number of patents for the design of optical lenses, devices and FDA drop-ball testing protocol. Young has authored more than 100 published articles and papers, and has been a member of 16 National and International Standards Committees and Association Committees. He has chaired committees for both ANSI and ISO. Young started COLTS, the optical industries’ first independent testing facility in 1997. Under his direction, COLTS has been dedicated to overall quality in the industry and continues to partner with the optical community through programs such as COLTS College.


Labtalk June 2020