Rob Lynch, president and CEO of VSP Global in Rancho Cordova, says “this isn’t just a vision service company anymore.”
That’s easy to see, just from the numbers alone.
What most knew simply as a provider of vision benefits and services a generation ago has grown into a nearly 5,600-employee international enterprise overseeing companies touching all aspects of the vision industry – member benefits, vision practice assistance/development, eyewear, customized lenses, software and ophthalmic technology.
About 2,000 VSP Global employees work in five buildings in and around the square-mile campus in Rancho Cordova, and VSP Global companies operate in 100 countries on six continents.
The long-standing core vision benefits/services entity, VSP Vision Care, now has 64 million members and a network of 30,000 eye doctors nationwide.
Lynch sees more growth ahead. “The way we’re organized, there’s nothing exactly like us. ... We’re very excited about what the future holds,” he said.
Peter Schaub, a New York-based marketing and branding expert, agrees: “VSP has spread its roots throughout the industry and across the globe. It has what other companies would die for – involvement in its own industry from its most basic elements to its most technologically advanced endeavors.”
Just one month into 2014, VSP was making major headlines.
On Jan. 22, VSP announced plans to hire 200 to 250 manufacturing employees this fall to work in a new lens-grinding facility in Folsom. Those workers will join nearly 400 already working in VSP lens-griding operations in the area. VSP spent $6 million buying a building on Blue Ravine Road to house the new facility, which is expected to open in November.
One week later, VSP announced that it had a deal with Google to provide prescription lenses and subsidized frames for Google Glass, the wearable computer/eyewear device with a frame-mounted display screen. Analysts called it a potential bonanza for VSP, servicing the evolving wearable eyewear technology niche.
Lynch says “Google Glass has the opportunity to do what the iPhone did initially.”
VSP’s technology side – delving into ever-evolving fields of software, automated lens-making technologies, night-vision eyewear and eyesight solutions – has become such a key part of VSP that it is currently refurbishing some of its Rancho Cordova offices along the lines of what can be found in the modernistic headquarters of Bay Area tech giants such as Google and Facebook.
In one VSP building in Rancho Cordova, a multistory work area still undergoing renovation features comfortable workstations amid large areas of open space and vibrant colors on walls, floors and furnishings. Clear “bubble” chairs hang by a chain attached to the ceiling. Large overhead fixtures emit subtle lighting, and windows provide a panoramic look at the outside world.
Lynch said the design is part of a VSP strategy to recruit local talent with top-tier technology skills.
“One of the things we discovered is that there’s a lot of talent in the region that’s working in the Bay Area,” Lynch said. “Isn’t it better to keep that talent right here? This is the kind of work environment they expect, and if that helps keep talented people here, that’s important to us.”
Lynch said VSP’s emergence in different segments of the vision care industry over the past 20 years is a byproduct of “pretty good conditions for growth ... Not only is the technology growing rapidly but we have a large, aging group of baby boomers who expect top-quality (vision care). They want the best that’s available.”
The VSP future Lynch envisions goes beyond corrective lenses and providing vision coverage for various companies: “Overall health is becoming more and more important in what we do.”
He says current vision care technology is becoming increasingly important in detecting early-onset diabetes and disease management, thanks to technology that enables professionals to peer directly into the vascular system. For example, blood seeping out tiny vessels in retinas can be a tipoff to diabetes. In 2010, VSP Vision Care launched the “VSP Eye on Diabetes” campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the connection between eye care and a person’s general health.
VSP claims that contemporary vision care also makes sense for companies offering health care programs to employees.
Earlier this month, VSP cited a study by HCMS Group – a health information technology and clinical information services company that uses data analytics to help businesses reduce health benefit costs – that said employers who offer workers stand-alone vision benefits experienced $5.8 billion in cost savings over four years due to reduced health care costs, decreased productivity losses and lower turnover rates. VSP Vision Care’s member population was analyzed in the study.
The study also determined that individuals who receive an annual, comprehensive eye exam are more likely to enter the health care system earlier for treatment of serious health conditions, reducing long-term costs. It also said people are more likely to get an annual comprehensive eye exam than a routine physical.
Echoing Lynch, the study said a noninvasive view of blood vessels and the optic nerve during an eye exam can detect problems early. The study said that eye doctors were the first to identify signs of diabetes 34 percent of the time, high blood pressure 39 percent of the time and high cholesterol 62 percent of the time in patients.
Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care, said the “HCMS study confirms that employees’ access to a stand-alone vision benefit provides a first line of defense in identifying and managing conditions that are straining our health care system and employers’ bottom lines.”
Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.