According to Central Optical President and CEO Dr. Lloyd Yazbek, the show's directors approached him after visiting the company website.
“The producers said they went on the Internet looking for websites of businesses that meet their criteria,” Yazbek said.
He said the producers were looking for businesses and entrepreneurs that are thriving and using technology to move to the top of a profession. Central Optical is doing just that. Over the past decade, the business has made major technological advancements, while not only keeping a full staff, but often adding more.
Throughout the company, there are computer-controlled robotics that one would think would replace staff members. One example is the robot that carefully handles the raw glasses that are ground down on a laser cutter. The robot carefully moves each lens from box to cutter and even to a laser that puts the groove into the glass to meet the frame requirements. The robot speeds up the process and requires more staff to keep up with it.
“The more we automate, the more we hire,” Yazbek said.
He is also proud to have some special products that are only licensed to Central Optical. The lab is also one of only a few that produce a special color lense for children suffering from dyslexia that can open up the world of reading.
Yazbek, a Cardinal Mooney and Youngstown State University graduate, got his start in optical lenses working for DeRigo, a sunglass manufacturer in New York City. He would travel to New York during the work week, then return home to Mahoning County on weekends.
While working at the New York company, he was approached by the previous owner of the Boardman company who asked him if he wanted to buy the company. After some thought, Yazbek jumped at the opportunity and has since taken the company to a new level of service.
“When I took over Central Optical, the company was putting out 150 pairs of prescription glasses a day with 13 employees,” he said. “Now we are doing 1,000 a day with 70 inside people and 15 sales people throughout the eastern U.S.”
Yazbek said the real growth of the company has come within the last five years. Through an investment in technology, combined with the ability to connect with eye doctors throughout the United States, the company has seen tremendous growth in spite of a tough economy.
That fact alone drew the attention of TV producers for "Moving America Forward." It brought the television series’ film crew to Boardman to show the strides that Yazbek has made.
While the crew filmed the daily operations in Boardman, Yazbek traveled to California to film an interview with program host Doug Llewelyn, who is best known for his role as host of "The People’s Court." Yazbek also filmed a brief interview with William Shatner of "Star Trek" fame.
With the segment complete and ready to air, Yazbek can set back and join the country in viewing a business that is doing things right. But Yazbek remains humble.
“This is not about me,” he said. “It is the people who work here that are the real focus.”
Even with the national notoriety that comes from the television series, Yazbek said his company must continue to move forward.
“Our objective is to double over the next three years,” Yazbek said.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Dr. Lloyd M. Yazbek, owner and CEO of Central Optical in Boardman checks on information that Mary Mandl is entering on prescription glass orders. The business and Yazbek will be featured n this month on a new television program called “Moving America Forward.”