DALLAS – As it completes the year with strong and steady growth, Acuity Eyecare Group has set its sights on continuing its success in 2020, but with an updated name, brand identity and company logo. The firm, which operates leading eyecare groups across the U.S. and has backing by private equity group Riata Capital, is announcing today a new name, AEG Vision, along with other corporate updates. The company, based here, said the rebranding reflects its evolution and its commitment to full-scope medical optometry. The changes are effective today, and include a redesign of the company’s website, logo, graphics and communications, according to the announcement. The new website address is: www.AEGVision.com.
AEG Vision expects to close out 2019 with about 150 practice locations, chief executive officer Eric Anderson told VMAIL in an interview in late November. He said the firm will have made about 50 to 60 acquisitions before 2019 comes to a close. “It’s been a pretty incredible year,” Anderson said. “When the dust settles, we will be 50 or 60 practices bigger. I don’t know how many transactions that is, but it’s quite a few.”
Anderson said the company’s rebranding is consistent with an effort to strengthen the connection to its core purpose, vision and values. “The AEG Vision brand is a signal to our patients, doctors and associates that our organization is more than a group,” he added. “AEG Vision is a caring community of local providers, helping our neighbors take care of their vision, one patient at a time.”
Anderson added, “We have been Acuity Eyecare Group for a while, and that served us well, but we want to reflect a higher order of benefit. What we are really all about is helping people protect their vision, one patient at a time. So we wanted a name that reflected that.”
Ben Chudner, OD, the group’s chief medical officer, told VMAIL in an interview that he believes the move to the new AEG Vision name will be viewed favorably by ECPs within and outside the group. “The name change better reflects who we are in terms of optometric practices,” he said. “In general, the practices that we own don’t really have any obvious ties to Acuity Eyecare Group. And from a patient’s perspective, there’s not really any change at all. They don’t have any knowledge of our organization, which is intentional. We try to keep the DNA of the practices intact.”
Chudner oversees the firm’s ECP advisory council, which consists of about 10 practicing doctors representing the states where the firm has practices, and their reaction was very positive, he said.
AEG Vision’s “family” of eyecare practices includes Crown Vision Center (St. Louis and east Illinois), IEC International Eyecare Center (Illinois, Iowa and Missouri), Eyes on Missouri (mid-Missouri), Eyetique (western Pennsylvania and Ohio), Malbar (Nebraska), One Hour Optical (Colorado), 20/20 Image Eye Centers (Arizona), ABBA Eye Care (Colorado), EyeCare Specialties (southeast Nebraska), EyeTX Vision Centers (San Antonio, Texas), Hill Country Vision Centers (Texas), Memorial Eye Center (Houston), Insight Vision Center (Kansas) and EyeCare Consultants (Colorado).
AEG Vision’s most recent announced acquisitions came in November when the firm acquired Advanced Vision in Columbia, Mo., and EyeCare Consultants in Centennial, Colo., as VMAIL reported. The latter practice is the company’s 18th location in Colorado.
Joe Terzo, AEG Vision’s chief development officer, said that while the Acuity Eyecare Group name and story “has carried quite well” as the firm has done a “good job of developing a positive seller transition experience,” the time had come for taking a broader view of the firm’s objectives. Terzo, a former investment banker, has been with AEG Vision for about 14 months.
“We have developed what I think to be is a best-in-class, repeatable process that puts people first and delivers value for everyone involved and really enhances the patient experience and outcome,” Terzo said in an interview. “But as we look into the future and try to continue to accelerate our growth trajectory, I think the story is much broader than just ‘eyecare group.’ The word vision embodies both the vision of the team and our staff and the leadership group. It is a good alignment tool for all of us to deliver on our value proposition.”
Looking ahead, Anderson said he believes the pipeline of prospective acquisitions “is very full, so we feel good about that.” He added, “And more importantly the businesses that have been under [our] management and fully integrated continue to perform very well. We’re able to demonstrate the kind of value we can add by doing what we know how to do really well.”
Some of AEG Vision’s success is attributable to what Anderson calls a “nice balance” of incorporating a common platform, scale of 150 ECP offices, common POS systems and a single product supply chain. “At the same time, we’re still celebrating that DNA that made those [acquired] businesses work.” AEG Vision works to keep the business model of acquired practices the same as pre-acquisition, whether they are more of a medically oriented model or more of a boutique model, such as Eyetique in Pittsburgh.
AEG Vision has its own surfacing lab, a common POS/EHR technology platform, and an internal practice management package that provides an overview of data across all practices. These common technology platforms are integrated with acquisitions within about 90 days, Anderson said.
“We don’t homogenize [the practice],” Anderson said. “We push the boundaries of homogeneity balanced with the benefits of scale, and that formula is working really well for us.”
Anderson said he expects “more of the same” for AEG Vision in 2020. “I’ve got my senior leadership team in place and many of them are people I have worked with for 20 years. We’re a very tight group and we are very simpatico in terms of how we approach people and acquisitions. There are no silos, and we are operating pretty efficiently… I would expect us to do more of the same next year.”