Unexpected innovator Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist
Retail

Dr. Peter Clarkson sold his first pair of contact lenses on New Year’s Eve in 1995.

That first order, processed and shipped from out of his wife’s optometry office, launched AC Lens, an online contact lens supply store.

Clarkson, whose background is in mathematics and medicine, was teaching at The Ohio State University and was intrigued by the e-commerce boom. This, combined with his wife’s optometry practice, pushed him into the business world. Clarkson knew he would need to surround himself with experts in marketing and information technology to make up for a lack of formal business education, as he had earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in digital signal processing, both from the University of Southampton, and then had gone on to earn a medical degree from The Ohio State University.

But as a natural leader, Clarkson, AC Lens’ president and CEO, knew from the beginning that rewarding his employees for their achievements would lead to success. By keeping most aspects of AC Lens, such as software development, customer service and warehouse systems, in-house, the company quickly grew to the third-largest contact lens retailer in the United States. Clarkson expects to see a 30 percent increase in revenue for the 2010 fiscal year, and he credits his employees for helping to reach this success. Clarkson is also very proud of the fact that his company has not had to touch its line of credit in five years. And recently, Clarkson’s passion for innovation produced two new online retail companies, Baseball Rampage and Softball Rampage, high-end sporting goods suppliers.

The next step for the company is to determine the best means of supporting vision awareness research and vision care, both issues to which Clarkson devotes time and money.

How to reach: AC Lens, (614) 921-9892 or www.aclens.com