Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Eyeglass maker to cut 73 jobs
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Jun 5, 2014, 14:29

JAMES PEACEMAKER JR./HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT The entrance to the Zeiss Vision facility in Chester is shown Wednesday.
CHESTERFIELD — An eyeglass plant in Chester gave notice that it will be laying off 73 people, nearly three quarters of its workers.

Carl Zeiss Vision gave the employees 60 days notice as required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. The notice was made Friday, May 30.

Carl Zeiss Vision spokesman Jeff Hopkins said there are 98 total employees at the Chester location at 13017 N. Kingston Ave., near the River’s Bend area.

The people who were laid off do surfacing of eyeglass lenses, he said. They put individuals’ prescriptions on the lens by grinding it to the proper shape and applying coatings.

“The lab’s not going to be doing all of the functions it does today,” Hopkins said.

Employees handling customer service,
order intake and the final assembly of glasses and inspections will remain at the plant.

“It’s actually a process that we’ve been undergoing for a couple of years now,” Hopkins said.

He said the company is consolidating the surfacing and coating functions.

“The lenses have gotten better, more precise, and customized for the individual patient,” Hopkins said.

That takes more sophisticated equipment and it is better for them to have those duties performed in fewer locations where they can have a dedicated engineering team to keep the machines up and running and to train the staff.

“It’s a trend we’re seeing throughout our industry,” he said.

Hopkins said there are 16 Zeiss Vision locations across the country and many of them have transitioned to what he called just the “finishing” of the glasses.

They will now have three labs in the United States where they do the actual surfacing and coating — in Portland, Ore., St. Cloud Minn., and Shelby, Iowa.

He said Zeiss is trying to help their employees find new jobs.

Zeiss Sports Optics’ U.S. headquarters was located in the same facility until 2012 when it moved to Northern Chesterfield. This branch makes rifles scopes, binoculars, etc., and needed more room for expansion.

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