ONE-TO-ONE: THOMAS E. BURKE, III

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Chief Executive Officer, ABB Optical Group

Prior to joining ABB Optical Group in August 2018, Thomas Burke served as CEO of Medical Specialties Distributors; senior vice president/general manager of Innovative Delivery Solutions for Cardinal Health; and CEO and president of Novis Pharmaceuticals. He has nearly four decades of experience in the distribution and healthcare industry with extensive experience in sales management, operations and employee development.

Joanne Marchitelli: What is your general vision for ABB?

Thomas Burke: We’ve got an amazing business that is essential to the distribution platform, specifically on the contact-lens side of the optical world. The reason we are who we are is because Angel Alvarez and others deeply cared about our customers and our vendor relationships, and made decisions based on what’s good for the doctor and the community.

Supporting the doctor differentiates us, and we will continue that tradition. I want to build solutions that our customers view as valuable. I want to evolve in ways that will really benefit our customers either through revenue growth, expense efficiencies or through better service to their patients.

JM: How do you see ABB helping the independent eyecare professional grow?

TB: For us, being able to give doctors unique solutions to continue to care for their patients is where we fit in. One example is that we’re not just in the contact-lens distribution business. We also have optical labs nationwide and we are in the frames distribution business. We also provide data and analytics around best-in-class service to eyecare practices. And we’re going to continue to evolve in even more solutions as we go forward.

JM: Where is ABB going from here?

TB: We are focused on six priorities, and all of them are equally important and critical to our success and the success of our customers.

One priority is to take a good, hard look at the role we play with information and how we can provide information to our partners as well as to doctors in the field that can help them be more productive.

Another priority is to continue to build out solutions that can help the doctor either grow, manage their expenses in their practice, or become better service providers.

Another absolute priority for us is to continue building meaningful relationships that are founded on trust. That’s with our customers, our vendors and our employees. I don’t want to be everything to everybody. I don’t believe in that. I believe in being everything to the people we partner with in a very transparent way.

Next is eyewear. We’re making a major investment in a new lab in the Midwest this year. We are continuing moving forward with the frames distribution piece of this business. We’ve got an amazing lab to begin with. Eyewear is absolutely a priority for us.

Also a priority for us is network optimization. We recognize that we have to get it right. We want to get it right. Our customers depend on us to correctly pick, pack and ship the right products at the right price and at the right time. We will continue to evolve, innovate and test our network strategies to make the process as efficient as possible so fill rates are up, errors are down, and our customers’ costs remain low.

Then the last one, which certainly is not last in terms of importance, is growth; but I don’t want to think about it in terms of ABB growth. I prefer to think about the growth of a practitioner because that’s what matters. Their earnings are what matters. To help them grow their top line and continue to serve their patients, we must have the right solutions for them to do that. ***

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