A&R changes its ownership

A&R changes its ownership

With his retirement in view, the founder and main shareholder of Automation & Robotics (A&R), Christian Closset, created a plan for the future of the company that combines his own wishes and the strategy of the Walloon Regional Investment Company (SRIW), i.e. to maintain the business in the region. The management and the staff of A&R will progressively buy the shares of the historical shareholders and SRIW ones. Two new companies were born for the combination of management and employee buy-out: Automation & Robotics Holding which owns 100% of the operational company shares, coming from the initial shareholders (Closset Family and 2 directors) and A&R partners (gathering the A&R employees who invested).

Currently, 140 employees are working at A&R, with a hundred based in Belgium. The company has subsidiaries in the USA, China, Brazil, and Thailand. All Belgian employees were invited to invest in the capital of the new holding company via A&R partners. 86% of the eligible staff adheres to the share acquisition plan over roughly 10 years.

The employees and managers have subscribed the shares of A&R Partners, which acquired itself 20.8% of the A&R Holding from the initial shareholders. The SRIW invested 3.8 M. € in the A&R Holding capital, which corresponds to 25%. Till 2022, A&R Partners and the SRIW will reach 51% of the capital. Till 2029, A&R Partners will continue acquiring shares in order to become the majority shareholder. Read more soon on www.ar.be/en


Jörg Spangemacher honored for his life’s work

Jörg Spangemacher honored for his life’s work

The traditional Vision Council Lab Division Hall of Fame Dinner is always a highlight of the Vision Expo West. At the Hall of Fame Dinner – in festive atmosphere with cocktails and a splendid buffet – people are honored for their outstanding contribution to the optical industry and the Vision Council. This year the event on September 18th was of particular significance to all of us at MAFO and FOCUS magazines as our founder and until recently the publisher of the magazines, Jörg Spangemacher, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. The award recognized Jörg Spangemacher’s life-long dedication to reporting on the international optical industry and setting up ‘MAFO – The Conference’, a platform where every year experts from the industry come together to exchange information and broaden their knowledge. Jörg Spangemacher, who retired recently, was very appreciative of this recognition of his achievements.

Other honors went to Arman Bernardi, Ph.D. of iCoat, Yvette Carranza of DVI, Ed DeRosa of Signet Armorlite, Skip Payne of IcareLabs and Kevin A. Rupp of Essilor. The Directors’ Choice Award for 2019 went to Steve Sutherlin, the Vision Council’s Lab Division Liaison Officer and former President of Sutherlin Optical, for over 45 years of dedicated service to the optical industry. Over 200 guests joined with the recipients in the recognition of their achievements and listened attentively to their moving acceptance speeches. Unlike previous years where different speakers introduced the individual winners, this year all the presentations were made by Emcees Swen Carlson and Steve Sutherland. This new format proved successful and met with general approval.


Jörg Spangemacher's induction into the Vision Council Lab Division Hall of Fame for his lifelong dedication to reporting on the international optical industry.

Lothes to expand role to President and CEO at Satisloh

Lothes to expand role to President and CEO at Satisloh

Satisloh President and CEO Pete LothesPete Lothes, who became Satisloh’s worldwide President at the beginning of 2019, has been named the company’s President and CEO effective September 1st.

“Satisloh globally over the last eight months has been fast-paced and rewarding. I am excited to take on the CEO role as well. I will keep on driving Satisloh’s strategy of providing complete manufacturing solutions for the optical industry. We are focused on continuing our role as leaders of innovation and ‒ most importantly ‒ delivering customer satisfaction,” said Lothes.


Coburn Technologies introduces the new Duality AR

Coburn Technologies introduces the new Duality AR

Coburn Technologies, a provider of innovative, end-to-end customer solutions to the world’s ophthalmic lens processing industries, introduces a new version of the Duality lens processing platform – the Duality AR. “The Duality AR expands the family of Duality, introduced a year ago,” says Wayne Labrecque, Vice President Sales, Americas of Coburn Technologies. “The highly successful Duality performs de-taping and lens cleaning in one machine and has been well adopted by some of the world’s largest and best-known RX production facilities.”

The Duality AR machine is specifically designed to remove progressive ink marks and residue from uv cured surface blocking materials.  “With the new version of Duality AR, we are expanding automation one step further in the lens production process. Duality AR, together with our Velocity automated coater, offers a complete automated solution for lens de-taping, cleaning and coating,” states Wayne Labrecque.

The new platform will be showcased at this year’s Vision Expo West in Las Vegas at booth LP6075.

Duality AR Coburn

A Space Odyssey – farewell words by Jörg Spangemacher

A Space Odyssey – farewell words by Jörg Spangemacher

An ophthalmic optician like me is not directly involved in the optical industry. He only needs to know that they make spectacle lenses. However, this all changed for me in 1979 when I attended a seminar in Amsterdam on the question of how to prevent scratches on the surfaces of plastic lenses during production. At the time plastic lenses were in the process of taking the market by storm.

The seminar in Amsterdam was organized by a well-respected British journal, “Manufacturing Optics International – MOI” now long since defunct. But ever since that day I wanted to organize a proper congress for the labs and optical industry in Europe.

I did not anticipate the resistance to this idea that I would encounter. The German industry association F+O and Randolf Rodenstock were dead against it, with Rodenstock saying bluntly: “We don’t need that in Europe!” It was not until several years later that I managed to persuade Eric Lenoire, head of SILMO, to host such a congress in Paris.

In the year 2000, the first congress – at that time under a different name – was a huge success. It was actually like the beginning of Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey. A year earlier someone had exhibited some strange red-and-white machines for the treatment of surfaces. But nobody really knew what they were for.

This new technology introduced by Günther Schneider represented the first major revolution in the surface treatment of optical media for over 400 years. And thus began a new era of questions which had hitherto been unknown, and demands for solutions to production problems that no one ever knew would one day be needed.

Since the year 2000, ‘MAFO – The Conference’ has offered a platform for discussing such questions and solutions and how to apply them. New developments and solutions were needed, such as small chambers for coating individual spectacle lenses, how to polish individual progressive surfaces without changing the curvature and how best to clean lenses, etc.

The optical industry has now met 20 times for ‘MAFO – The Conference’, first in Paris and later in Milan, with ever increasing interest. We are currently preparing for the next edition in February 2020.


How can you organize a congress for an industry with which you had no dealings until the turn of the millennium? The answer is simple: As the technicians, engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians also had to learn themselves, I learnt along with them from the many discussions with these experts.

By far the greatest help in this learning process, however, were the congresses organized by the Optical Laboratories Association (OLA) in the USA. Thus I would like to express my sincere thanks to those at the OLA who made these mammoth events possible. The lectures there helped to open my mind to this technical world which was new to me. However, I deeply regret that this important organization was killed off due to Essilor’s destructive policies in the USA.

Despite this, I hope that the Lab Division within The Vision Council will be able to continue OLA’s original idea.

As of July 1 this year, I am handing over all the magazines of MediaWelt GmbH to three employees as part of a management buyout. I had two reasons for doing this: I did not want to be still taking full responsibility well in my 80s. And secondly, the day-to-day work has increasingly been taken over by younger minds. They have brought with them their own fresh insights into the editorial and marketing fields. Thus it is only fitting that they should also take responsibility and enjoy the fruits of their work.

However, this does not mean that in future I will be devoting all my time to breeding my kois and the never-ending expansion of my model railway. The really nice thing about being a journalist is that you can continue writing for as long as you can still hold a pencil – or at least for as long as there is still someone there to read it.


(Editor’s note: We are not going to let Jörg Spangemacher off the hook that easily. For more, see the next issue of MAFO.)



Satisloh names Luis Cerqueira Head of Region Latin America

Satisloh names Luis Cerqueira Head of Region Latin America

Following the move of Christian Jakober to VP of Global Strategic Accounts, Luis Cerqueira takes over as Head of Region Latin America effective September 1, 2019. “Luis’ expertise in directing sales teams, running manufacturing facilities, and managing large organizations in all facets of business management makes him uniquely qualified to lead our Latin American group,” said Pete Lothes, President and CTO of Satisloh worldwide.

Cerqueira has MBAs in both Corporate Finance and Supply Chain, and speaks four languages – Portuguese, English, Spanish, and German. He has held positions in IT (Latin America) and in Finance, Business Development and Sales Operations (USA) in the optical industry, including most recently Senior Director Sales Operations for Essilor of America. “What I find most compelling about Satisloh is its undisputed leadership in the market and the passion of our staff to develop best-in-class technology that allows our customers to produce the best eyeglasses possible,” said Cerqueira.