“We Spend A Significant Amount On New Product Development…”

Alex Incera, President, Coburn Technologies speaks about Coburn’s approach to business, their portfolio of products and things to look forward to…

VisionPlus speaks to Alex Incera from Coburn Technologies to understand how the company has evolved post the management change in 2011. Alex shares insights on the challenges and how they reveal exciting prospects for future growth.

VisionPlus (VP): In 2011 when the management changed, tell us, how Coburn aligned its projects, processes etc. to this change? What were the challenges you faced?
Alex Incera (AI): In January 2011, our ownership structure changed. We went from being Gerber Coburn, a division of a large public company – Gerber Scientific, to being a privately held, management-owned and independent organisation. Our key management team remained the same, but we now own the company. This change was challenging but at the same time exciting. Simply put, we were extremely excited by the opportunity, but well aware of new challenges that we had to overcome, the most important of which was to create a new culture, and establish new values that represented our new reality. Today, passion and focus have become our new mantra that have re-invigorated the organisation to develop new products and provide higher levels of service to our customers.

VP: You were part of Coburn before the management change. What would you identify as the three major changes in the organisation, then and now?
AI : I’ve been with the company for nearly 25 years. We have been through many challenges and victories, and I feel more optimistic about our future than ever before. The three major drivers for this optimism are –
a) The strength of our new products which represent the quality and innovation that can stand up to any of our competitors.
b) The range of our products that include surfacing equipment, coating and coating equipment, consumables, finishing equipment, and diagnostic products (in the US) ensures that we have something to offer to everyone in the ophthalmic market, a claim very few companies can make.
c) And finally our independent, strategic ownership structure that allows us to be nimble in our decisions and our actions. These three changes reflect our new reality, and make us a better company.

VP: What differentiates Coburn from the rest?
AI : I think an important factor to our success would be our broad product offering. From large scale lens processing equipment for the surfacing process in lens manufacturing, to edging equipment and ophthalmic instruments for eye care professionals in the United States, we have an extensive range of products to fit the needs of our customers. Another factor that differentiates Coburn from competitors is our service. We have a highly trained service team located all over the world that provides premier service and support to both existing and previous customers with equipment that Coburn has been manufacturing since its inception.

VP: Research & Development is obviously an important division of Coburn. What is the company’s approach to this and how do you keep the process focussed and relevant?
AI : As a percentage of sales, we spend a significant amount on our initiatives for new product development. When it comes to new product development, our goal is to offer innovative solutions to optimise the lens making process. One of the steps in the process involves gathering the ‘Voice Of The Customer’ so as to ensure that customer needs are being addressed.

VP : Tell us something about the Coburn portfolio and what is lined up for this year. Also please do list the top three performers and your assessment ?
AI : The Coburn portfolio is very diverse. As I mentioned earlier, we offer a variety of equipment from blocking, generating, polishing, cleaning, and coating machines to lens edgers, tracers, blockers and a full range of diagnostic tools as well. Our top performers from this portfolio are – Cobalt Digital Surfacing System which offers highest precision and high reliability with a dry cut mist process, Velocity Automated Hard Coater (and associated coatings) which provides high-speed hard coating for leading laboratories in the world and our newest product, Duality Lens DeTaper and Cleaner which provides full detailing and double sided cleaning and drying of lenses in a very small footprint.


VP : Interesting, can you tell us some more about the Velocity Coater?
AI : The Velocity coater has become the new standard for coating, not just in this market but all over the world. Offered in both fully automated and manual versions, the Velocity Coater has found a home with the most widely recognised lens producers and brands in the world.

VP : By the way, congratulations on winning the VP Award. Please tell us your views about this platform and how it has evolved over the years.
AI : Thank you! We are very proud to be chosen as recipients of this award. We’ve seen this platform evolve and gain prominence in the industry over the years and expect it to continue doing so, scaling new heights with each passing year.

VP : Coburn has a strong global presence. How do you capitalise this access to the local markets while trying to customise your products?
AI : We have a presence all over the world, and our staff is trained to ensure that we keep the local point of view in mind. Given our success, I think our team is doing an excellent job.

VP : What are your expansion plans?
AI : We are exploring plans to grow into new product segments as well as to expand into new territories. These plans have a competitive component so for now, we need to keep the details confidential.

VP : Tell us something about your journey at Coburn.
AI : My 25 year journey at Coburn has been thrilling. Together, we have overcome challenges; developed new strategies, new products and reached out to new markets. I believe that change is the only constant, but during all of these changes, I am more pleased with our prospects and excited for our future like never before.

VP : Any message for our readers.
AI : Watch out for Coburn. We’re doing some very interesting things and have a new product lined up for you.


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