Acuity Eyecare Group, which was formed by Riata Capital Group in 2017, has bolstered its management team with the addition of four experienced executives as it further supports practices in the group’s holdings and prepares to continue expanding this year. Acuity, as VMAIL reported, launched last March with a strong platform following the simultaneous acquisition of three cornerstone regional eyecare groups: Crown Vision Center, based in St. Louis; Eyetique, based in Pittsburgh, and International Eyecare Center, based in Quincy, Ill.
The recent additions to the Acuity management team are Shawn Deckert, as vice president of operations; Brian McCrea, as vice president of strategic initiatives; Meera Dua, as chief merchandising officer; and Lora DeVuono as chief marketing officer. “These most recent hires enable Acuity to be very well poised for continued growth and expansion across the country,” according to the company’s announcement.
Acuity is led by an experienced management team that includes chief executive officer Matt Matthews, chief financial officer Doug Shepard, chief information officer Satish Dave and vice president of corporate development Bret Davis.
Jeff Fronterhouse, managing partner of Riata Capital Group, said: “Based on our successful investment in Vision Source from 2011 to 2015, we are excited to continue to leverage and build upon our strong network of relationships, experience and track record in the eyecare industry. Acuity Eyecare Group is off to a very strong start and we are seeing the impact in the marketplace of the team’s expertise and efforts.”
Fronterhouse also noted that the continued focus of the company will be “to support our Acuity family with the important tools and resources needed to provide their patients with full-scope professional eyecare and the highest-quality product assortment and value. We are committed to keep the momentum going in 2018 and beyond and look forward to sharing our accomplishments, growth and important milestones along the way.”
New chief merchant Dua began her career in optical at Cole Vision Corporation, and she subsequently held various leadership roles with Sears Optical, Target Optical and Pearle Vision. With the acquisition of Cole Vision by Luxottica, Dua continued to diversify her experience. She took on high-profile merchandising positions within Target Optical, LensCrafters, GMO, product development and also led category management for all optical divisions.
DeVuono, who has experience in brand marketing and advertising, began her career at General Mills and then spent 20 years in multiple leadership roles at PepsiCo within Quaker Oats and Frito Lay. As SVP/ group vice president of brand marketing and advertising at Frito Lay, she led the entire marketing team and a powerful portfolio of multi-billion dollar brands.
Under her marketing leadership, Frito Lay transformed the health and wellness arena and built over a $1 billion dollar portfolio through consumer-centric innovation, advertising excellence and a high impact retail presence, according to the announcement. In addition to her Acuity role, DeVuono serves as an operating partner for Riata Capital Group.
Deckert, who began his optical career more than 25 years ago, has a broad range of eyecare experience that spans independent optical companies as well as some of the most iconic brands in the industry, including Target Optical, Oakley, LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut International. As vice president of operations at Target Optical, Deckert was instrumental in leading a turnaround by focusing on culture and “transforming [Target Optical] into one of the fastest-growing optical companies for more than a decade,” according to the announcement.
McCrea, who brings 25 years of experience within the optical industry, most recently was vice president of Central and LensCrafters Manufacturing for North America. He is best known for his results-oriented leadership style and successful implementation of large-scale organizational initiatives, according to the announcement. McCrea also has worked with Luzerne Optical, Lens Lab, Northeastern Eye and the LensCrafters unit of Luxottica. He spent 19 years with Luxottica and progressed through several key leadership roles.
In late 2017, Acuity added to its holdings with the addition of Malbar Vision, the largest and oldest private optometric practice serving Nebraska, according to Acuity’s announcement. As of Dec. 31, 2017, Acuity operated more than 60 optometry locations across six states. Acuity also owns a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, outside of St. Louis.
Acuity said it is seeking to continue expanding its platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent eyecare professionals. “Acuity currently has three additional groups under letter of intent, and expects to grow to over 100 locations by mid-2018,” according to the announcement. “This is a direct result of the market’s exceptional response to Acuity’s compelling story, operating philosophy and holistic approach to eyecare.”
“We are building a terrific team of respected and capable industry leaders at Acuity,” Matthews said. “We recognize that our culture of great people is the most important element to success and will bring our mission to life. We want to empower optometry owners to maximize the value of their practice, spend less time on the day-to-day headaches of being a business owner, and bring those into the Acuity family that share our level of commitment to innovation and patient care.”