Gerber Coburn and Essilor International have not renewed their agreement for the distribution of Essilor finishing equipment in the U.S., which expired on Dec. 31. Instead, Essilor has launched its new U.S.-based operation for the distribution of these products, while Gerber Coburn; which recently went through a management buyout, has taken on board the distribution of equipment by Huvits, the rapidly growing Korean supplier.

Gerber Coburn will continue to provide service and parts for equipment that was sold under its previous agreement with Essilor. The two companies had been working together since August 1996. New orders for Essilor equipment are being taken up since Jan. 1 by the newly formed Essilor Instruments USA. The new team consists of nine salespeople and 10 service engineers, and those numbers are expected to increase over the next year. Robin Rhodes is director of sales for the new business unit, which reports to Satisloh/National Optronics. Rhodes reports directly to Andy Huthoefer, the chief executive of National Optronics.

For its part, Gerber Coburn became on Jan. 1 the new exclusive U.S. distributor of Huvitz's complete line of Excelon lens finishing systems, distributing as well as servicing and providing technical support for the equipment from the Korean company. The agreement also allows Gerber Coburn to distribute the equipment in other markets on a non-exclusive basis.

US Ophthalmic was the former distributor of Excelon systems in the U.S.; it retains its rights in Latin America. Gerber Coburn's acquisition by Coburn Technologies was completed on Dec. 31. That same day, the company's 14-year agreement to distribute Essilor's finishing equipment expired.