Weekly Feature



2011-07-14 / Business

Sights set on century of success at Zilliox Optical

by KIMBERLY MCDOWELL Editor


Lee Buccilli, left, of Hamburg has a pair of eyeglasses adjusted by licensed opticians Carl Endres, right, and David Gerstner, owners of Zilliox Optical, 1777 Orchard Park Road in West Seneca. Photo by Jim Smerecak Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Lee Buccilli, left, of Hamburg has a pair of eyeglasses adjusted by licensed opticians Carl Endres, right, and David Gerstner, owners of Zilliox Optical, 1777 Orchard Park Road in West Seneca. Photo by Jim Smerecak Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com In the business world, a company’s owners frequently come and go, unable to withstand the test of time.

So what’s the secret behind one West Seneca business that’s changed hands only four times in nearly a century — with two of those owners still in charge?

Perhaps it’s the decades of experience that Carl R. Endres and David Gerstner have as licensed opticians at Zilliox Optical Inc., 1777 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca.

“We offer individual, personalized care,” said Endres, owner since 1985. He notes having worn eyeglasses since the first grade, affording him sympathy for his customers and an understanding of their needs.

Zilliox Optical services about 3,000 clients, largely drawing from the Southtowns. Endres said area optometrists have frequently directed patients to their location.

There’s also been an increase in clientele from the Northtowns, as well as a few loyal out-of-state customers.

“We’ve been here so long that [longtime customers] have turned into friends,” Endres said.

Founder Ray Zilliox opened for business in South Buffalo in 1921. He passed it on to his son, Jack, also a licensed optician — he’s credited by Endres as being the first in the area to offer contact lenses — who eventually sold it to longtime employee Gerstner.

The company as a whole is thought to be the second oldest continuing optical business in the area.

Endres joined the Zilliox team in the ’70s with the purpose of managing the company’s second location in West Seneca. It is currently the only location since the closing of the South Buffalo office years ago.

Endres eventually became a partner, buying the company in the ’80s. Today, both he and Gerstner serve as owners and remain the two primary licensed opticians, in addition to Mike Malachowski who specializes in contact lens fittings.

“We’ve always had skilled opticians who passed on their knowledge,” Endres said as a point of difference between their independent business versus the typical “Corporate America” chains.

As a testament to the business’s longtime success, a pair of Father Baker’s bifocals hangs on the wall in a shadow box in the corner of the office. A receipt for his repair dates back to Nov. 6, 1933.

“Anyone can sell eyeglasses,” Endres added, noting that “we take our time with people; we find the proper frame selections.”

Optician licenses in New York State must be renewed every three years, which requires a certain amount of continuing education.

At Zilliox, they do more than what’s required — the opticians constantly attend seminars to learn of new technology that’s affecting the eyewear industry.

Some of the latest trends offered at Zilliox include digital freeform lenses as well as progressive lenses, otherwise referred to as “no-line bifocals.” These lenses provide a seamless progression of many, or “multifocal,” lens powers for all viewing distances.

Zilliox Optical offers prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses from a variety of popular designers, such as Elle, Ann Klein, Liz Claiborne and Vogue for women; and Polo, Armani Exchange and Izod for men.

The business also offers eye exams by appointment only. Even those who don’t normally wear eyeglasses should take this exam every two years to maintain healthy eyes, said Endres.

Zilliox Optical opens daily at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday; 5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday; and 2 p.m. Saturday.

The office is closed on Saturdays during the months of July and August.

For more information, contact the office at 674-8446. email: kmcdowell@beenews.com

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