Spotlight: Metro Optics Eyewear Inc., 2015 Age Smart Employer Award Winner

Metro Optics Eyewear is an ophthalmic services company (vision care and eyeware) with four stores in The Bronx. The company was started as a family-owned business in 1978 and prides itself on offering cutting-edge technology in a retail setting throughout its history.

John Bonizio, owner of the company, says he places a high priority on continuing education of their employees, promoting from within, supporting local initiatives and communities where they operate, and being good corporate citizens.

“There isn’t a night I go to bed without thinking about how I’m responsible for 45 families. That is the responsibility we have to our employees. We have to treat people how we want to be treated,” he explains. Twelve of the 45 employees at Metro Optics are over 50 years old.

Specific Age Smart Policies & Practices

HIRING

• Many of the people who they hired to work in their lab came out of Wallkill prison where they have been trained and certified to make Medicaid glasses. This also means that they are often older.
• Some of their entry-level employees are patients who need work due to recent life changes.

JOB RESTRUCTURING & TRAINING

• Positions are designed to feed into one another over time because there is a preference and support for training to promote from within. One woman, who has been with the company for 28 years, started as a receptionist and worked her way up to become the buyer for the entire store. Five of the nine opticians earned their licenses while working for the company.

FLEXIBILITY IN SCHEDULING

• Cross training occurs regularly to allow for flexibility in staffing when an employee’s scheduling needs change.

BENEFITS

• Employees are encouraged to continue their education and if they become licensed as an optician, Metro Optics reimburses all tuition costs and fees.
• Metro Optics has helped employees with loans on property down payments, and other financial hardships. As John Bonizio puts it, “If I was in trouble, I would want to know that I could go to my employer, someone I contribute to daily, and that they could support me.”

OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE APPROACHING RETIREMENT/RETIREES

• When people want to retire, they are able to reduce their schedules gradually. A few have come back after retirement.

Click here for a list of all of our 2015 winners