Independent Optical Laboratories Plans January Launch

By By Andrew Karp

Independent Optical Laboratories (, a new wholesale freeform lab, is set to launch Greensboro, N.C. in January.

The company’s founder and CEO, Ben Collier, said construction on the 19,000 square foot space is underway and the lab will soon be processing digital freeform lens designs, advanced anti-reflective coatings and specialty edged work, all in-house. The North Carolina-based lab will serve independent eyecare professionals across the country.

“Many independent ECP’s are missing the local connection they used to have with a nearby lab. Independent Optical Laboratories is bringing that local attention and care back to the independent ECP, regardless of location,” Collier told Vision Monday. “With so many technological advances and corporate buyouts in our industry, the days of the local independent lab are sadly all but over. These days independent is the new local.”

Independent Optical Laboratories is supported by a team of optical industry veterans that has worked alongside Collier in the formation of the company. The board of directors is composed of Tom Sloan, Tom Styers, Scott Mann, OD and Collier.

Sloan is the former owner and president of Southern Optical Company, a large mid-Atlantic lab network. Sloan is also a Vision Council Lab Division Hall of Fame inductee.

Styers is also a Lab Division Hall of Fame inductee and former chief financial officer of Southern Optical. Mann is the co-owner, along with Jon Gudeman, OD, of Invision, a successful optometric practice near Roanoke, Va. and sits on the board of the Virginia Optometric Association.

On the production side, general manager R. Greg Pittman comes to Independent Optical Laboratories with 30 years in the optical industry. He has held management and administrative roles in wholesale labs as well as private ophthalmology and optometry practices. As a veteran optician and Lean Six Sigma greenbelt, he will lead the lab with a wide range of experience.

Once Independent Optical Laboratories launches in January 2020, the lab will produce IOT freeform, Shamir freeform and private label anti-reflective coating in-house.

“By partnering with Schneider Optical Machines our customers will benefit from the most advanced surfacing and AR equipment on the market,” Collier said. “We’re going all-in upfront—top of the line surfacing equipment, automation, full conveyor lines pre-built for future equipment expansion, large AR capacity, blockless edging—the works. While we launch with the ability to process up to 400 jobs per day, our conveyor system is set up for plug-and-play expansion to easily accommodate capacity of 1,500 jobs per day, and well beyond.”

Independent Optical Laboratories has begun to publish a periodic newsletter and social media updates to keep the independent eyecare community informed on the lab’s launch timeline and construction process, with pictures and posts showing the behind the scenes process of launching a new wholesale lab.


Labtalk June 2020