Ivan Samuels, Longtime Optical Executive, to Retire, While Management Team Continues at Eye Cloud Pro

Ivan Samuels

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla.—Ivan Samuels is set to retire after 50 years in the optical industry. Long recognized as an innovator in the eyecare business, from his career in the contact lens business to his approach to high-end retail, Samuels will also be stepping down as president of Optical POS, Inc., better known in the industry as Eye Cloud Pro, the practice software firm he established. Its management team, with Dan Wetherell as president, will continue on at the company to support the firm's ECP and retail client base.

Samuels graduated from college with a BA in Accounting and began working for the major accounting firm, Ernst & Young in their New York office. He became a CPA working on audit projects for Fortune 500 companies and later transitioned to work in operations for a company that owned the patents for soft contact lenses.

He became the CEO of the Hydron Contact Lens group and built factories in Australia, the U.K. and New York. He was then hired by Ciba Geigy (now Novartis) as president of Ciba Vision Care to develop a business plan and direct the startup in the U.S. His team developed and introduced the first colored soft contact lenses in America. That startup is now one of the largest contact lens companies worldwide.

Samuels left the corporate world to start The Eye Gallery in Atlanta, Ga., where he used his experience in finance and operations to create an extremely successful chain of high end optical stores. He assembled an ultra experienced staff of opticians and optometrists and set about creating a carefully curated inventory of luxury and independent eyewear collections combined with the very best in eyecare.

Over the next 21 years the company would expand to 10 locations in two states. He later sold The Eye Gallery to MacKeyser Holdings/American Optical Services in 2012 and later the stores were acquired by Emerging Vision in 2014, as VMAIL reported.

Samuel's most recent venture, Optical POS, Inc began life after the initial sale of The Eye Gallery stores. He had begun the software project in 1999, sensing the need for a web-based solution to eliminate the need for a computer server in each store to run the day to day activities of the business.

Samuels told VMAIL, "For multiple locations and the type of stores that we had, I knew I wanted my own software, and we had started to build this in 1999-2000. I'd connected with a guy doing military programming and very few people, if any, talked about 'the cloud' at the time.

"We were one of the first and the level of performance was something that I thought could work for other groups like ours, so I made several calls. And it's been so gratifying, through those relationships, word of mouth and our more recent work of consistently adding new features, we've grown to serving about 1,200 accounts, as of now."

Samuels noted, "It's a good feeling to leave Eye Cloud Pro in such a good position. It's like winning the World Series in a way—with the number of new clients coming in, with a great team of very experienced people who've been together for so long."

Dan Wetherell will be taking over as president of Eye Cloud Pro, having worked with Samuels closely for many years. Wetherell is also a licensed optician, with an OD father, and has been the face of the software support for Eye Cloud Pro for many years. The senior management team of Brian McGinity, John Evans, Sarah Dirksen and Gregg Seacrist will continue to take the software development to the next level, Samuels said.

Samuels added, "I've been used to working seven days a week for a very long time, but it's time. Between catching up on some projects and being able to travel and see friends, hopefully sometime soon, I'll be just fine. The optical business has been wonderful to me and a good place to be.

"The past year has been truly a challenge for so many, I see that many changes will continue. I think there'll be a little more interest in online buying but people want to connect with the doctors and optical stores that they know. Good operators know they'll need to connect to their customers in new ways, they've built the relationships and technology will certainly escalate. I've found there's optimism among the better performers in the market."