Partnership is one of the most overused words in business communications these days. It seems like nearly every new vendor-customer relationship, distribution deal or joint sales promotion is touted as a “partnership.”

Maybe I’m just a cranky business editor who has seen too many glibly worded press releases, but I wonder how many of these partnerships actually live up to the meaning and more importantly, the spirit of the word. (I confess I’ve contributed to the problem by writing my share of articles that have used the p-word indiscriminately.)

So let me state simply that a true partner is someone you can count on, someone who will watch your back. It’s someone who is committed to a mutual relationship and who will support you, pay attention to your needs, and even anticipate them. It’s someone who has your best interests at heart, and vice versa.

I was reminded of the deeper meaning of partnership while writing this month’s cover story, “At Your Service: How Successful Rx Labs Exceed Customer Needs and Expectations.” The labs and ECPs interviewed for the article spoke about the many ways they support each other, and why that support is vital to their growth and success.

My favorite examples in the article are the ones that describe how a lab came to the rescue of an eyecare practice that had been shut down as a result of COVID-19. When the chips were down, and patients depended on the practices to deliver their eyeglasses, these labs came through like champs.

The willingness and ability of these “golden labs”—as lab industry veteran Vicki Masliah likes to call them—to serve their customers despite the challenging circumstances they were also facing is inspiring. It underscores the symbiotic nature of the lab-ECP relationship which is so fundamental to the health of the optical industry. Read our cover story starting on Page 20 and learn more about these true partnerships.