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Our History


THE HISTORY OF LUZERNE OPTICAL LABORATORIES, LTD.

 
Celebrating 43 Years

 

 

– Timeline –

 

    In 1973, John P. Dougherty- better known as “Jack” or “Jake”- had been in optics for 13 years and looked at the optical laboratory business and saw an opportunity.  He struck out on his own and the company he founded is now one of the largest laboratories in the US with forefront technology and its glasses enhancing vision all over the world.

    Luzerne Optical, named after its home county, opened its doors on the second floor of the century-old Mahoney Building at the corner of North Main and West Hollenback Streets in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  Luzerne Optical employed two people when it started manufacturing precision eye wear made with glass lenses.  Business grew steadily.  The company added employees and expanded its quarters.  By 1984 it needed a new building, not just for the space, but also to accommodate the latest technologies.  That spring Luzerne broke ground on a new, state-of-the-art, 20,000-square foot laboratory located on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in the downtown Wilkes-Barre Industrial Park.

    As the company grew, Jack constantly watched for new and better product options.  He invested heavily in high-tech lens processing equipment and computer technology.  Jack added to the line of glass lenses provided with materials such as plastic, polycarbonate and hi-index.  In addition to lenses for glasses, he started making custom contact lenses and producing anti-reflective / glare-free coatings, super hard scratch resistant coatings and mirror coatings for sunglasses.  In 1994 Luzerne became the first wholesale lab in Pennsylvania to manufacture anti-reflective coatings in-house.

    Jack served as president of the Optical Laboratories Association in 1995.  The OLA honored Jack in 1995 and 1996 for his long service over the years.  He had worked as chairman of the executive committee, vice-president, treasurer, director and held a number of committee chairs.  Also in 1995, Wilkes-Barre mayor Lee A. Namey proclaimed March 2nd as John P. Dougherty Day, presenting him with a commendation.  The proclamation cited his “record of remarkable progress and growth” and his company’s “positive effect on the local economy.”  The Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry selected Luzerne Optical as “Small Business of the Year” in 2001.  Chamber president Stephen Barrouk noted “Business success like that of Luzerne Optical is vital to the continued growth of our region.  This is an international firm that started here, and we are proud to honor them and to celebrate the contribution they have made to our region.”    Also in 2001, Jack was honored as an Optical Pioneer Visionary at the OLA’s Optical Pioneers Banquet.  He joined a select group of industry veterans who were cited for their contributions to the success of their industry.

     In 2002, the company automated its inventory room to better manage its massive stock of the finest quality ophthalmic lenses.  It cleared out its garage and storage areas to expand surfacing production and add a special clean room for coatings.  Luzerne became one of only two independently owned companies in America authorized to produce the market leading Crizal Anti-Reflective Coatings.  A Class 100,000 Clean Room was constructed and equipped with robotic equipment to move lenses through the process.  In 2009 Luzerne began processing digital free-form, the latest technology in spectacle lenses in-house. In 2011, Luzerne Optical is the first authorized independent lab in the world to product HOYA free-form lenses on-site. In 2012, the lab installed the most advanced edging equipment in the world for wrap and sunglass frames.

   Currently the full-service laboratory employs approximately 200 people who have spent most of their lives in the optical business with a dedication to service and quality.  Jack has always proclaimed that the lab’s employees are its greatest asset.  Looking ahead, the Dougherty family is very optimistic seeing continued growth and opportunity.  They will continue to look for new products, new markets and new services to help improve people’s lives.  With the fine vision-enhancing products Luzerne makes, they will certainly achieve their mission and help the world see better.

 

 

 

 

 

1960
John P. “Jack” Dougherty joins
Balester Optical Co. after four years in the Air Force.

1973
Jack and Lorraine Dougherty found Luzerne Optical with Jack’s business partner/ brother-in-law George Albert.

1984
Luzerne Optical breaks ground on a million-dollar, state-of-the-art, 20,000-sq.-ft. laboratory in Jack’s hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

1985
Luzerne Optical starts production of custom made hard and gas permeable contact lenses.

1988
Jack and his wife Lorraine purchase George’s share of the business.

1992
Luzerne Optical is named U.S. Varilux® Lab of the Year.

1994
Luzerne Optical invested more than one million dollars to install in-house anti-reflective (AR) facilities.

1995
Jack Dougherty is named president of the Optical Laboratories Association (OLA).

1995
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Lee A. Namey proclaims March 2d as
John P. Dougherty Day.

1997 To Present
Luzerne Optical is awarded the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association manufacturing Seal of Excellence.

2000 & 2001
Luzerne Optical is named a Crizal® Champions lab.

2001
Luzerne Optical is honored as the 2000 Corning Laboratory of the Year.

2001
Jack Dougherty is honored as an Optical Pioneer Visionary at the OLA’s Optical Pioneers Banquet.

2001
The Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry Luzerne Optical Small Business the Year.

2002
Luzerne Optical is presented the first ever Essilor Lenses Lab of the Year Award.

2002
Luzerne Optical is authorized to produce Crizal AR lenses.

2003
Luzerne Optical employs 180 people with a multi-million dollar payroll.

2006
Luzerne Optical is honored as Crizal Lab of the Year by Essilor.

2009
Luzerne Optical is named The Leader’s Challenge award winner by Essilor.

2009
Luzerne Optical begins producing free-form lenses in house.

2010
Luzerne Optical honored as the VisionWeb Lab the Year.

2010
Honored as "LAB INNOVATOR OF 2010".
Most mentioned lab by suppliers, peers, customers and associates in the industry for a lab epitomizing innovation with a commitment to technology, an understanding of internal organization, a continuing devotion to customers and a strong civic responsibility.

2011
First authorized lab to product HOYA free-form lenses in the world.

2012
Installed world's most advanced automated edging equipment.

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