Revision Eyewear: Dedicated to a New Standard of Readiness for the Military
Revision Eyewear was founded in 2001 and has grown rapidly, now employing about 160 people in Essex Junction, Vermont. Their eyewear products are capable of stopping bullets, shrapnel and even lasers, providing essential protection for our soldiers and police.
Revision’s clients include the U S Department of Defense (DOD), and the defense departments of Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, among others. Recently, the company celebrated receiving a $2.4 million dollar contract from the DODfor its ballistic eyewear, which will also have an enhanced laser protection capability. Also in recent months, Revision has begun manufacturing its own state-of-the-art lenses; a capability that was previously outsourced.
Eric Hounchell, Vice-President of Operations, gives theVermont Manufacturing Extension Center (VMEC) significant credit for contributing to Revision’s ability to manage growth and success. Revision Eyewear needed an ISO 9001 recertification to keep and increase its European contracts. However, the company’s rapid growth meant that the original Quality Management System (QMS) was no longer adequate. Revision Eyewear felt it would not pass the re-certification audit without some help. Since the QMS system had to be solidly in place for the audit, Revision Eyewear had to work fast on its quality update.
A VMEC team member was assigned to the company, and he worked with Revision to provide a plan of attack to completely re-engineer the QMS within six months. With VMEC help, Revision Eyewear:
- Mapped business practices and wrote new procedures
- Worked with an ISO 9001 consultant to ensure that the procedures were appropriate
- Improved its job training methods, an essential task in a rapidly-growing company
Revision Eyewear easily passed the recertification audit. The DOD has QMS requirements that are similar to ISO 9001. When the DOD made a site visit after the audit, Revision Eyewear’s quality standards met their standards as well. Shortly after the site visit, Revision Eyewear was awarded a DOD contract that was worth over two million dollars.
In short, after the ISO 9001 recertification, Revision Eyewear:
- Retained a $4 million contract that required ISO 9001 certification and won a new DOD contract
- Stayed eligible to bid on European projects and won several contracts
- Was able to more easily establish an in-house lens manufacturing capability
- Continued rapid expansion while maintaining quality standards
Further, the ISO 9001 QMS helped Revision Eyewear improve two areas where they knew the old QMS was not sufficient. The first area was mentioned above; they improved job training. The second area of improvement was control of incoming material. Revision no longer loses money by occasionally accepting material that does not meet specifications. With strong internal procedures in place, Revision can enforce quality standards on its suppliers.
Revision Eyewear has calculated that the internal improvements alone are saving it $250,000 a year. Externally, the certification has enabled them to book millions of dollars a year in new and retained business. Eric Hounchell, Vice President of Operations, says: “If the VMEC team had not stepped in with the knowledge and effort that it did, there is no question we would not have passed our ISO 9001 audit.” Through partnering with VMEC, Revision Eyewear passed their audit, achieved ISO 9001 recertification, and brightened their future.