Eyecare Services Partners Names Neal as Chief Executive Officer and Adds Two Other Executives


George Neal.

DALLAS—Eyecare Services Partners (ESP), a leader in integrated eyecare services, has appointed George Neal as chief executive officer, effective March 4. Neal was previously chief executive officer of Access Dental, a dental services organization that was recently sold by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. He succeeds former chief executive officer Michael Fricke, who has retired, a spokesman told VMAIL. In addition, ESP has named Aaron Cho—a former colleague of Neal’s—as chief financial officer and Roberto Conte as vice president, operations–east.

These moves were effective March 4 and March 1, respectively. ESP has nearly 100 optometric, ophthalmic and ambulatory surgery center locations under its management services umbrella and partnership arrangements, the spokesman said.

Neal, the new chief executive, has more than 30 years of experience in the vision industry, specifically in ophthalmology. He was chief executive officer of TLC Laser Vision Centers and led the organization through a period of significant growth in the North American LASIK industry. Prior to TLC, Mr. Neal was division VP of global sales & marketing for Abbott Medical Optics (AMO), where he led commercial operations globally for the cataract/refractive surgical businesses and contact lens and vision care product portfolios.

“George brings deep vision industry and leadership experience to ESP as we build the nation’s leading integrated eyecare services platform,” ESP executive chairman Daniel D. Crowley said in the announcement. “We are very pleased to welcome him as our CEO.”

“It is great to be back in the vision industry leading an organization that is bringing together some of the country’s best optometric and ophthalmic practices along with ambulatory surgery centers specializing in eyecare,” Neal said.

ESP partner practices include Katzen Eye Group, Dulaney Eye Institute, Delaware Eye Center, Inland Eye Specialists, Omni Eye Specialists, Spivack Vision Center, Colorado Eye Center, Milauskas Eye Institute, Chicagoland Retinal Consultants and Hauser-Ross Eye Institute, among others.

As VMAIL reported, Harvest Partners LP, a New York-based private equity firm, and Varsity Healthcare Partners, a health care-focused private equity firm, completed a recapitalization of ESP in May 2017. Harvest acquired Varsity’s majority ownership interest in ESP in the transaction.

New chief financial officer Cho previously held the same post at Access Dental. A certified public accountant, he has significant experience leading high-performing teams in multi-site health care businesses. “Aaron has the right multi-site health care services and finance leadership experience to support our eyecare services practices as we build a high-quality, full service integrated optical services platform,” Crowley said.

In the operations group, Conte will oversee operations in support of current and future ESP ophthalmic and optometric practices, as well as affiliated ambulatory surgery centers, throughout the Eastern U.S. He reports to chief operating officer Nicholas Sacco.

Conte was previously executive vice president of Eye Doctors of Washington (EDOW), where he led operations as the general manager for 10 years. EDOW is an ophthalmic and optometric practice with four locations in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and has been part of ESP since 2017.

ESP is working toward creating a leading integrated eyecare services company by consolidating ophthalmologic and optometric practices and ambulatory surgery centers that are strong in their local markets and differentiated by their clinical quality, according to the announcement.