Business in focus

BEYOND the rows of frames at ACT Optical lies a secret laboratory where staff produce more than 100 pairs of lenses each week.

ACT Optical owner Soorage Ahadizad said having a servicing laboratory within a practice is a rarity these days but is very valuable to the family-owned business.

He said customers were surprised to learn that the business manufactures its own lenses onsite at its Queanbeyan branch which is located on the corner of Crawford and Monaro Street.

"There's probably only a handful of us in Australia that manufacture onsite like we do. Whereas 99 per cent of the other places have to send it away," he said.

"There are so many advantages. Turnaround is so much quicker, most other places could take up anywhere between two weeks to four weeks for a standard set of lenses but we can do it within a day."

Mr Ahadizad said another plus of creating their own lenses is having more control over the process. They offer single vision, extended range, bifocals, multifocals, high index and transition six lenses.

He estimates they produce between 100 to 150 sets of lenses each week for their branches in Queanbeyan and Tuggeranong.

They also have the equipment to cut and fit the lenses in the frames.

"It's really well controlled the way we manufacture our lens, we work in 0.12 diopters instead of 0.25 diopters so we're a lot more precise in what we do," he said.

"A lot of what we do nowadays is what you call a 'free-form' type of lens, which means it uses an aspheric design. The lens is a lot flatter and better to look through because there's less distortion.

"We are hands-on manufacturing the lens so we can double check everything we do as we're going through. There's less chance of having faults in the lens because we can detect it quite well."

Having the servicing laboratory is in keeping with the roots of the family-owned business which was first started by Mr Ahadizad's father, Nosrat, in 1972.

"Even back in 1974 and 1975 it was unheard of to have a servicing laboratory. My father actually imported machines from Germany and he was manufacturing back in those days and we've just kept it going," he said.

"I think it's a big bonus to have a laboratory in your practice."

Mr Ahadizad expanded the practice to Queanbeyan more than a decade ago after changes to the optical dispensing legislation.

"Over 10 years ago we came to Queanbeyan after they deregulated the optical dispensing act in the ACT. We're qualified optical dispensers and mechanics so we thought we'd use our licence by coming to Queanbeyan," he said.

"The thing with coming to Queanbeyan was not only using our licence but we had the option of buying a building."

ACT Optical currently has 13,500 customers on file at its Queanbeyan store.

Mr Ahadizad estimates 30 per cent of customers are from Queanbeyan while the rest come from across the border and other parts of the country.

The business offers a full eye check where they look for major eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma and a retinal check.

They have also partnered with the National Hearing Association to offer free hearing tests to those over 50.

ACT Optical is located at the corner of Crawford and Monaro Street Queanbeyan. They are open Monday to Saturday. To make an appointment call 6299 0966.

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