RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. and DALLAS, Jan. 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Breaking into private practice optometry is difficult. The costs of building a practice, defining a brand, cultivating a steady stream of patients, and developing a staff and management expertise takes years. Yet for 200 optometrists, the dream of owning their own practices has become a reality thanks to the Vision Loans Program, an innovative practice transition program funded by VSP® Vision Care, Essilor of America and Vision One Credit Union.
The Vision Loans Program lends money to independent eyecare professionals (ECPs) who want to purchase outright or buy into an existing practice, fast-tracking their entry into ownership. The innovative program also provides a unique exit strategy to long-time, successful optometrists looking to monetize the years and efforts they have taken to successfully build their businesses.
Since its inception, the Vision Loans Program has provided more than $65 million in loans to support 200 doctors, many of whom once worked at retail centers and wanted to make the transition into private practice optometry.
"The partnership with Essilor and Vision One supports ECPs and fulfills a need in the market," said Stuart Thomas, OD, Chairman, VSP Global Board of Directors. "The desire to own a practice is at the core of becoming an eye doctor, and Vision Loans has been a consistent resource to ECPs to be able to achieve this dream."
The underlying goal of the program is to support private practice optometry by empowering young, hungry doctors to explore their entrepreneurial drive. In 2012 both Essilor of America and VSP Vision Care deepened their commitment to the program by increasing funding by $10 million.
"I became an optometrist because I wanted to be a healthcare provider and to own my practice," said Aaron Evans, OD, owner of Visual Eyes at Mizner Park and Vision Loans recipient. "The Vision Loans Program has not only enabled me to purchase a practice from my mentor, it has enabled me to invest in updates to my practice to allow me to better compete in an environment where patients have more choices than ever before."
"Vision Loans' unique features, along with our 60 years of experience with optometric practice transition lending have provided a higher probability of success for new practice owners," said Bob Schultz, President and CEO of Vision One Credit Union. "Vision Loans practices have successfully endured, and in most cases, flourished in the face of the great recession. As a result, our loan applications have increased substantially each year."
"Faced with new market challenges and increased competition, programs like Vision Loans ensure that doctors have the opportunity to own a practice, build wealth and better compete in a landscape that continues to become more complex," said Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO and Senior Vice President of Customer Development, Essilor of America.
"Additionally, the Vision Loans program provides retiring doctors with an effective way to sell their practice, while assuring that the business they have worked so hard to build will continue to serve their community for years to come."
Vision Loans provide funds for first-time buyers interested in:
Partnership Buy-ins: To purchase an ownership interest in an existing practice.
Practice Purchases: In conjunction with existing Vision One loan programs to purchase 100% of a private practice.
Down Payments: In conjunction with seller financing when purchasing up to 100% of a private practice.
Practice Refinance: Available for debt used as initial startup or purchase of a private practice.
For more information about Vision Loans, contact Vision One Credit Union's lending division at 800.327.2628 or visionone.org.
About VSP Global
VSP Global® includes VSP Vision Care, the largest not-for-profit vision benefits and services company in the United States with 56 million members; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world's largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of quality fashion and technologically-advanced eyewear and sunwear; Eyefinity® which offers innovative solutions and the premier management software and technology to improve overall practice management and patient experience; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in new technologies, production processes, service and logistics.
To date, through VSP community outreach programs such as VSP Mobile Eyes® and Sight for Students®, and through relationships including those with the American Red Cross and Prevent Blindness America, VSP has invested more than $147 million in free eyecare and eyewear for more than 775,000 adults and children in need throughout the United States.
The Vision Service Plan logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=13343
Essilor is the leading manufacturer of optical lenses in the United States and is the market leader in progressive, high-index and anti-reflective coated lenses. A pioneer in the development and production of ophthalmic lenses, Essilor employs more than 9,000 people throughout North America. Essilor manufactures optical lenses under the Varilux®, Crizal®, Xperio®, DEFINITY®, Thin &Lite® and other Essilor brand names. Essilor Laboratories of America (ELOA) is the largest, and most trusted, optical lab network in the U.S. and offers a wide choice of services and lens brands, including Essilor premium lenses, to eyecare professionals across the nation. Essilor of America, Inc. (Essilor) is a subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International, a publicly held company traded on the Euronext Paris stock exchange (Reuters: ESSI.PA).
Varilux, Crizal, Xperio and DEFINITY are registered trademarks of Essilor International. Thin &Lite is a registered trademark of Essilor of America, Inc.
About Vision One Credit Union
Vision One Credit Union was founded in 1951 as a banking organization for optometrists. It operates as a non-profit institution with an all OD, volunteer Board of Directors. Vision One is owned by its depositors who represent all aspects of independent optometry (ODs, Optometric Colleges, Associations, Societies and Industry).
CONTACT: Pat McNeil 916.851.4287 firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Vision Service Plan