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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 23, 2004

Leadership Corner: Amy Endo

Interviewed by Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Name: Amy Endo

Age: 43

Title: Master optician

Organization: Edwin Y. Endo, O.D., and Associates in 'Aiea

High school: St. Andrew's Priory

College: Bachelor of Arts in business administration, University of Hawai'iiManoa

Breakthrough job: Being the national chair of the American Optometric Association's paraoptometric section. "Not only were my leadership skills sharpened, (but) I was able to mentor others, acquire excellent listening skills and build lifelong friendships that will always be cherished," Endo said.

Little-known fact: Endo and her husband, Edwin, are avid collectors of vintage spectacles, with some dating back to the preiCivil War era.

Major challenge: Getting the message out that vision screenings are not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam, especially for children, has been a major challenge.

Q. When you graduated from UH with a degree in business administration, did you think you would become a master optician?

A. I had been working in the banking field, with about two years in management. I had wanted to extend my education, but I felt a need to be in this practice (with my husband), that personalized care was really important. Everything I've learned here has been hands-on.

Q. Your husband, Edwin, opened his own practice more than 20 years ago. And you started here soon after. How has working so closely with your husband been?

A. We've grown accustomed to (working together). We're not usually in the same area — he does exams and I'm in the dispensary area — but we work together well. We don't interfere with each other.

Q. You and your husband both are advocates for complete eye exams for children. Vision problems are common among children, according to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, with an estimated 5.3 million school-age children suffering from some sort of vision problem.

A. That's an issue (for professionals in this field). It's important for children to be examined and to get yearly eye exams. Common problems are amblyopia, or "lazy eye," and eye strain.

Q. You've recently won several national awards for service. How do you achieve quality customer service?

A. Patients feel an added benefit when they know they're being cared for, educated, and (they) know what to expect before they receive it. I think that customized service makes people feel important, too. Part of that customer service is to ensure their concerns are met and adjustments are properly made. We do also call (patients) a week or so after their visit and ask them how they're doing.

Q. Is that how you set apart this practice from others?

A. With us, the personalized care is there. I also like to look at technologically advanced products out there, research them and get them to our clients as soon as possible. ... For example, we have specially contoured lenses that simulate contact lenses, where the viewing expands your peripheral vision by 40 percent. We also have curved sunglass frames to reduce aberration or distortion. As new products are available, we're really quick to bring them in. We want to provide the newest and best products on the market.

Q. How do you hear about new products in optics?

A. I subscribe to a newsletter through e-mail where I'm notified about new products and can bring them in on a trial basis. I also go to conferences to see new products.

Q. You have more than 3,000 frames and other products in stock. Finding new products must be the fun part of your job, right?

A. Oh, yes, and there's always such a great variety out there. It's fun to keep abreast of what's new. With frames, there's new lines every spring and fall. We like to be the first to bring in new products and exclusives.

Q. Why is that important for your business?

A. You want to provide something different and exciting. You don't want to be like everyone else. You want to provide services that are unique.

Q. How has your participation with the American Optometric Association helped you in your role with patients?

A. I was working with a lot of people in paraoptometrics (staff support), listening to their concerns. I think through that I've learned how to deal with different types of people and personalities.

Q. While national chair, you worked to ensure office staff received special recognition for achievements on the job. Why was that so important to you?

A. For anybody, recognition is really important. It improves job performance and makes you feel important in the practice.

Q. In your 20 years of working in optometry, what has been the achievement you're most proud of?

A. Winning three national awards this year. I was the Vision Service Plan's People First National Staff Winner; 2004 50 Most Influential Women in Optical by Vision Monday magazine; and The Edge Award recipient by Eyecare Business and International Vision Expo.

Q. Did you expect to win these awards?

A. No, there was never any expectation for the awards. There are many more deserving opticians and optometric technicians in our Aloha State and abroad.

Q. In your opinion, what makes this business — or any business — successful?

A. I'd say you have to provide an added service or benefit to your customers. And you should always create that friendly atmosphere.