Vision-Ease Looks to Hire at Minnesota Facility
October 14, 2013
Vision-Ease Lens, which pulled back from an initial public offering as the stock market tanked in 2008, is growing nicely, but plans to remain a private company, CEO Doug Hepper said recently.
Vision-Ease, a spinoff years ago from the former BMC Industries, expects to grow sales about 6 percent to $110 million and is hiring at its 350-employee headquarters and factory in Ramsey.
"We're too small to go public in today's market," said Hepper, who employs about 1,000 total in the United States, Europe and Asia. "The owners look at us and say ... we're worth more in the future than today, as we continue to innovate our products and services and grow our business."
Vision-Ease makes thousands of different types of eyeglass lenses for hundreds of customers, including Wal-Mart and Lenscrafters clients, who want same-day product shipping.
Vision-Ease recently was named to the 2013 Information Week 500 of top U.S. technology innovators.
"Most of the companies that get this recognition tend to be pretty big, so this is important," Hepper said. "We view 'IT' as extremely strategic and integral to our business. IT helps with our business processes, quality and efficiency. We used to get almost all of our orders over the telephone. Now 75 percent of our orders come to us over electronic media. That's better for the customers and makes us better. Less is lost in the translation and it's more efficient."
The company also manufactures at modern plants in Thailand and Indonesia.
"More than 50 percent of our value comes from our Ramsey factory," Hepper said. "We make high-value products, polarized and photochromic [lenses] that change from light to dark in the sun. From 2007, we've had annual raises and maintained benefits. The company has been surprisingly stable through the recession and recovery."
Insight Equity and Rosewood Capital of Texas have been the principal owners of Vision-Ease since 2004.
Original headline: Vision-Ease of Ramsey seeing growth, and hiring