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COLA Members Share Ideas and Honor a ‘Goodfellow’

By Brian Dunleavy, Contributing Editor
Monday, June 11, 2018 12:00 AM
TEMECULA, Calif.—Lab executives from California and the western states gathered here from April 26 to 27 for the COLA (California Optical Laboratories Association) annual spring meeting.

Following the yearly golf outing at the famous Temecula Creek Inn, attendees celebrated the winner of the association’s Goodfellow Award. The annual honor is given to a lab executive or business leader who goes above and beyond to help others grow the industry. This year’s honoree is David Rips, president of Younger Optics, one of the world’s largest independently owned spectacle lens companies.

A 2013 inductee into the OLA Hall of Fame, Rips started at Younger, the family business, in 1959. In the ensuing years, he famously balanced two part-time careers—one, in the optical industry and, the other, as a professional poker player.

He was uniquely successful in both. Under his leadership, Younger received 12 OLA Director’s Choice Awards for a number of product innovations. In accepting the award, Rips quipped, “Since the 13th century, people who sell and make eyeglasses have been among the most important people in society. What industry would I rather be in?”

In addition to continuing his leadership role at Younger, Rips told the audience of lab executives and vendors that he plans to use social media to “teach the world about how great the optical industry is,” with a particular focus on the important innovations that give eyeglass wearers the “gift of sight.”

COLA members also took a moment to acknowledge the passing of Martine Bruneni, who died in September, 2017. Bruneni, along with her father Joe, was an important leader with COLA and the Polycarbonate Lens Council. Steele Young, vice president, business development and key accounts, Satisloh, said that her passing “reminded me of the importance of the relationships we have from working together. She said frequently that the optical industry was her legacy. That’s how important it was to her.”

The next day’s festivities in Temecula featured an agenda of informative speakers, including Hedley Lawson, an attorney and managing partner, Aligned Growth Partners, who addressed legal issues relating to California’s new recreational marijuana laws, the state’s new salary history ban (for prospective new hires) and sexual assault/harassment in the age of the #MeToo Movement; Rick Van Arnam, The Vision Council legal counsel, who provided an update on California Prop 65 product labeling legislation.

Bill Oakes, senior staff engineer, Qualcomm, and Sabine Rentschar, manager, technical services, VSP Optics Group, both of whom are members of the American Society for Quality, shared their thoughts on “continuous improvement” in business. Mike Karlsrud, a business consultant, focused his talk on “Danger in the Comfort Zone,” and urged attendees to keep employees “engaged” to increase productivity.

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