About David Friedfeld
David Friedfeld is president of ClearVision Optical, one of the largest family owned eyewear distributors in North America. Based in Hauppauge, NY, ClearVision designs and distributes eyewear and sunwear for 13 distinctive brands including ASPIRE, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Ellen Tracy, Cole Haan, IZOD, Marc Ecko Cut and Sew, Op, and Jessica McClintock, as well as its own collections including PuriTi 100% titanium, DuraHinge, ClearVision Collection, Junction City, and Dilli Dalli pediatric eyewear.
David provides vision and leadership to all areas within the ClearVision organization. Under his guidance, ClearVision has received countless honors and accolades from both the eyewear industry and the business community. David is a featured speaker at many industry related events, and has appeared on several internet radio shows including The Growth Strategist, The CEO Show, and “Gary Gerber’s Power Hour.”
Tell us how you started.
Following WW2 my dad, Fred, became a lab trained optician on the GI Bill and started the business in 1949 as an optical frame distributor. He had one goal in mind: to create a great experience for independent eye care professionals by providing high quality products and exceptional service. While we’ve grown considerably since then, this has remained part of our mission.
As for my involvement in the business, technically, I’ve been with ClearVision since I was five years old. Then, my job was to count 100 screws and put them in a plastic bag! I worked for my father for a few years after and law school, then set off on my own. But, I answered the family ‘calling’ (literally, a phone call from my Mom asking me to help my Dad in the family business), in 1984, and I’ve been here since. Initially, my analytical and organizational skills were put to use at ClearVision as I directed all areas of the business related to sales, product and distribution. Today, as ClearVision’s President, I provide the vision and leadership to all aspects of the organization, and more importantly, to the 200 employees who are an integral part of the company’s success.
What was a turning point for you/ your organization?
Considering we have been in business for 66 years, there have certainly been several turning points for us. One that is more recent came in 2013, when we implemented 3D printing into our product development cycle, specifically in our design and prototyping processes. Since then, we’ve fully embraced this rapidly evolving technology and expanded our 3D printing capabilities. 3D printing now plays a pivotal role in our overall design and production philosophy and has significantly improved our efficiency.
What is your philosophy at ClearVision?
Our mission is “to grow and develop our business and culture with the express goal of making a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of our customers, employees, business associates and community.” This unique mission is part of what makes us special, as it embodies all that we are and all that we expect of ourselves. It’s not just about the company and our business, but rather the expectations we have for our people, our values and our responsibility to others.
Overall, the culture at ClearVision is one of encouragement, integrity and honesty. We believe a balanced, empowered workplace leads to fresh and innovative thinking. All individuals are treated with respect and everyone’s ideas are heard with the same level of enthusiasm. We recognize that great ideas come from all areas of the company.
For me personally, the most important part of the ClearVision message is to continue to make a difference in the lives of your employees. Be nice. Write a note. Leave a voicemail. Attend a family event important to your employees. Be sensitive to their healthcare and retirement needs. Say hello when you walk down the hall. These little gestures mean so much to employees, because they are more than that: they are part of the family.
Tell us about your organization’s profile today.
At ClearVision, it’s about the experience. The experience we provide in helping customers grow their business, and the experience we provide our employees each and every day. I’d say that the ClearVision experience is what sets us apart from other companies: we treat each other as we wish to be treated. Taking the time to connect with each other helps us continue to move forward in our thinking, our designs, our services, and most of all, our commitment.
This year, ClearVision was named one of the Best Companies to Work For by The New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYSSHRM). Our collections have been recognized by industry organizations, and we as a company are consistently ranked as one of the top 5 suppliers in the U.S. in several categories by Jobson Research, a leading source of business intelligence in the optical industry.
What opportunities do you see in the future?
An avid new media follower, I strongly embrace new and innovative technology, especially in the role it plays in meeting the needs of our customers in today’s ever changing technological landscape. I’ve always followed the latest trends, and, especially over the past few years, have studied those trends impacting the eyecare professional marketplace. These “mega trends,” if you will, impact the direction of this marketplace in everything from frame inventory and merchandising, to competing with online eyewear sales and not only maintaining, but effectively building a patient base amidst this competition. I’ve created a platform from which I can share this information with other industry professionals at various events and via webinars.
I do see the innovative optical businesses growing in strength and significance. Innovation is especially important now in a faster paced world and in our industry, which is impacted by Managed Care and government regulations. Our customers have a unique opportunity as optical is personal, medical, and fashion, rolled into a unique service, making it less of a commodity than many other products and services. And this means opportunity for our business.
For more information: Connect with David on Twitter and Instagram @OpticalBuddy or visit www.cvoptical.com