Robertson Family Celebrates 50 Years
American Optometric Association

Published April 2009


may_2009_Robertson_Optical_BrothersRobertson Optical Laboratories celebrated its golden 50th anniversary with many events over the past year. Jack Robertson founded Robertson Optical 50 years ago, and his sons, Richard and Calvin, continue the business today.

Richard is the president of the Loganville, Ga., lab and secretary-treasurer of the Columbia and Greenvile, S.C., labs. Calvin is the president of the Columbia and Greenville labs and secretary-treasurer of the Loganville lab.

“The most satisfying part about being in business for 50 years is looking back to the beginning of our company,” said Calvin. “My father, Jack Robertson, called me by phone and asked ‘Calvin, do you want to join me in opening our new company, Robertson Optical Laboratories, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia?’”

The family has experienced lots of change in the optical business over the course of 50 years. “When I started in the optical industry, the only material available was glass, and the grinding process was very labor intensive,” said Richard Robertson.

“We used the roughing pan to grind lenses. This was a process where we manually placed rough emery on a sphere tool while holding the blocked lens in our hands and rocked it back and forth until the desired cylinder is in the curve of the lens. Today, the computer generator grinds these automatically,” Richard said.

Richard also noted that materials have evolved during his time in the industry. “No one had heard of materials such as CR-39™, polycarbonate and Trivex,” said Richard. “And antireflective coating and progressive lenses did not exist as they do today.”

“The optical industry has changed from manually fabricating lenses to increased automation of today’s equipment,” said Calvin. “The quality of lenses produced today is far superior. I must ask the question, ‘Can future machinery and equipment produce any better quality than today?’ And my answer is I can see this happening year after year for future generations.”

The Robertson brothers said they are very satisfied with what they have accomplished with their company. “When I think about how many lives we have improved by helping people see better, it is staggering to me. It gives me great joy,” said Richard.

“Watching our employees grow with the company and pleasing our customers has been a very important and satisfying part of the last 50 years. I have always said, ‘Without customers and employees, one would not have a company.’”

“The other thrill of the 50-year period is the friendships developed with our wonderful employees, business partners, the three O’s and manufacturers,” said Calvin. Robertson Optical serves the United States from its three locations in Georgia and South Carolina.

In 2008, Robertson Optical was ranked ninth in prescription sales and jobs per day of all independent wholesale labs in the nation, according to Vision Monday. Neither of the Robertsons has any plans for retirement.

“I am having too much fun now to retire and want to continue doing all I can to help eye care professionals and their patients, as well as our employees,” said Richard. “I plan to retire when I die unless the unknown happens sooner,” said Calvin.