Gerber Coburn is forming a direct sales force in the USA as part of a new strategy to boost sales and widen its reach into the American wholesale laboratory market, while it pools customer service and other functions with those of other divisions of Gerber Scientific, also in Europe and other parts of the world. For the last 18 years the company's equipment has been sold in the USA through a network of independent sales representatives. The move in the USA is being made in conjunction with the release of a new ?performance series? line of products for medium- and high-volume optical labs. The direct sales force will be part of a combined service and sales organization consisting of nearly 100 people. As previously reported, service personnel, who will make up more than half the group, will be trained on Gerber Coburn products as well as those sold by other business units of Gerber Scientific, Gerber Coburn's parent company. Sales personnel will be dedicated to optical products, including some that will offer special services such as lab re-engineering. The changes form part of a growth strategy based on Gerber Scientific's three-year turnaround plan due to be fully implementged in 2005.