Having been trained in aviation during the 60’s and 70’s, Licensed Commercial Pilot and licensed Aircraft Mechanic, the Oil Crisis of the early 70’s had decimated the aeronautical field.
The optical field seemed to be a worthy alternate livelihood so, in 1973, I began my optical career, first working and learning the profession, going to night classes and then, purchasing a modest optical company located in Downtown St. Louis.
My business model: Use the best that works, leave the bad behind.
It certainly worked. This modest optical business I purchased became profitable and began growing.
Then the short recession of 1980 and the Iranian Revolution and American Hostages happened and another recession, the result of high oil prices. I continued on track to build my Company and my reputation but, at a slower rate.
Nearly 10 years of growth and then a brief recession during the early 90’s due to rising interest rates. Business growth, through the 90’s, continued to build.
I sold this downtown company in the 90’s and was appointed Vice-President of Optical Operations at a major and fast- growing optical company.
My previous customers, during that time, strongly suggested that I open my own location, again. I realized the importance of direct customer relationships and the business decisions needed to interrelate with that consumer.
Then 9/11, 2001.
The decision to leave my position 10 days after 9/11 and 10 days before my 50th birthday and open eyewearhaus at the worst possible economic climate seemed dubious at best. I had a great deal of chutzpah.
I made the decision to not change my personal business model during this terrible moment in our history. I continued to forge ahead and hoped I would overcome this severe downturn in our economy. I slowly began changing my modest inventory to that which is currently on display by demand from my customers for something bold, unique and daring.
Our growth continued until the Recession of 2007/2009 due to the subprime mortgage crisis. In spite of financial, auto and housing collapses, I continued to not make severe business changes as this business rational worked in the past and we survived through previous economic slowdowns.
Then Covid, 2020.
All business and lifestyle rulebooks thrown out the window. Except ours.
We continued our office activities, through the hard work of our manager and incredible staff albeit, all customer interactions were in our parking lot for a while. We saw a substantial number of new customers as we were one of very few businesses still functioning at some level. During this time, we developed our safety protocols, some of which we continue to use.
Through 2020 and 2021, we have continued to dramatically increase our business activity at all levels. Thusly, we arrive at the present.
I am announcing that I am officially retired from eyewearhaus.
It is time to pass a very Unique, tremendously busy and rapidly growing, successful Company to an individual with the same, if not more, passion, vision and very lofty goals I have had for over 48 years.
Meet Doctor Michelle Burghart.
Doctor Burghart, with the help of an exceptional and, close to my heart, staff, will take eyewearhaus to the next level. Dr Burghart will never lose sight of those prime principles which have governed and piloted eyewearhaus to international recognition and accolades it cherishes today.
Please come in to meet Michelle personally. You will truly be impressed as I continue to be.
It has all been a blast.
The unbelievable staff, the customers, the glitches and solutions, vendors, all of it.
The greatest experience, ever.
It will all be missed enormously.
Much Health and Happiness to those I have met and to those I have yet to encounter.
And to you, I bid adieu!
Michael Harris, ABOC HFOAA, FNAO