After the successful completion of a new $3 million round of financing in the past summer, PFO Global, the U.S. company run by Ruedi Suter, has appointed a raft of new executives to manage its growing and diversified business, after adding 18 people to its staff in the last four years.
Tim Kinnear has been appointed chief financial officer, in charge also of PFO's facilities in Texas and its new PFO Optima operation in Connecticut. Ken Elstad, who worked previously for one of Essilor's U.S. laboratories, has been named executive vice president of sales, overseeing a team of 36 sales reps. Jeff LaPlante, who has worked for Signet Armorlite and other firms, has become executive vice president of business development. George Moore will act as executive vice president of information technology.
The recent equity increase was oversubscribed four times over because PFO is riding a very positive business cycle in the U.S. right now with the development of its web-based SmartEyewear.com ordering platform for affordable packages of frames and lenses, which is specifically tailored for opticians affiliated with managed care programs. It includes a virtual 3D try-on facility for the customers.
After signing contracts with the five major American managed vision care providers, PFO has been getting orders for thousands of SmartEyewear spectacles every day in the U.S. since 2013, and the volume is expected to increase strongly with the new federal health care guidelines issued by President Barack Obama's administration. The number of Americans who can obtain such packages free of charge every two years is going to grow from about 70 million to 90 million in 2015.
Suter has engaged in several other investments since his sale of Satisloh in 1998. PFO Global is also the full owner since March 2013 of the Optima polycarbonate lens business of Asahi Lite. The acquisition followed a split of the balance of Asahi Lite's operations between Mitsubishi Chemical and Conant.
The Swiss executive is looking for new opportunities for all his businesses in Europe, where PFO has been selling its progressive lenses. It is now adding its finished eyewear program through a new disruptive development, the “eyex3” frame scanner. With the new European business in mind, PFO accepted a last-minute invitation to exhibit at the Silmo show in Paris in September. The company is also going to have a meeting room to connect with strategic customers for the first time at the Opti fair in Munich next month.