By Melinda Toy, Product Marketing & Communications Manager
Stepping foot into Cherry Optical, Inc., Kings of Leon hums in the background. I’m greeted by a friendly twenty-something who hops up from her chair with a big smile, asking how she can assist me. As I’m waiting to meet with Adam Cherry, the current company president, I notice the youthful group of employees all engaged, working in an energizing harmony. A friendly dog comes to say hello as I’m seated in the waiting area. It’s hard not to feel the excitement resonating from this quaint building in northeastern Wisconsin. When Adam arrives, I immediately notice the unique, stylish frames he’s wearing. As we walk back to his office, he shares a quick laugh with another employee, who has a noticeable spring in his step.
This brief exposure to the seemingly smoothly-operating business makes it hard to believe that just 17 years ago Cherry Optical Inc., headquartered in Green Bay, Wis., was an unrealized dream of Joe and Lynn Cherry.
Joe Cherry grew up in a small town in southern Kentucky. He enlisted in the U.S. navy when he was 17 years old and served four years of active duty. After his service, Joe took an entry level position at Wisconsin Optical where he met Lynn, a Marinette, Wis. native. The pair spent their younger years working at the Midwest optical laboratory doing simple processing. This story just gets started here. Not only did they find each other, but by the time they left, Joe had worked his way up to president of the company, one of the largest optical laboratories in the nation, and Lynn into a management position as well.
As a strong team, Joe and Lynn Cherry decided they were ready to take their careers to the next level. They gave up their rewarding and secure positions in order to pursue their dream of running their own optical laboratory. Joe wanted to deliver world-class service and superior products. Lynn had the dream of providing a positive, safe environment where all employees felt like they were family. The only way this seemed possible was to start their own company and create the capabilities and culture they were craving.
Cherry Optical, Inc. was born in a moment Joe calls “an awakening.” Joe likes to tell people, “The second hardest thing I’ve done in my life was telling my wife I planned to quit my job, create my own laboratory, and work for myself. The hardest thing I’ve done in my life was asking my wife to quit her job and work together.”
The Cherry’s took a leap of faith together and opened Cherry Optical, Inc. in 1999. When the company started, there were two employees. From there, the company grew in stages to what it is now: a leading independent optical laboratory. This was achieved through integrity, providing superior-quality products, and maintaining a focus on continued education. Today, Cherry Optical, Inc. serves eye care professionals and their patients within the United States and internationally.
Adam Cherry, Joe and Lynn’s son, has now taken the helm as President. He remembers, with great admiration, some of the biggest successes and challenges his parents experienced over the years. Adam recalls that one of the major challenges his parents faced was “overcoming the ‘mom-and-pop’ perception in the marketplace.”