Expanding During a Pandemic: Q&A with Midland Eye Associates
By Amy DeGeer Roten
Eighty years ago, an optometrist opened his new practice on the Circle in Midland. Four owners and three locations later, Midland Eye Associates has grown into a comprehensive eye-care practice offering vision and medical eye care. Owners Dr. Paul Kimball and Dr. Carl Erickson are dedicated to maintaining and maximizing patient vision with the most comprehensive eye care available. They will remain at the forefront of optometry and use the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment. That promise and dedication has generated growth – and prompted their current expansion – which you can see at 217 N. Saginaw Rd.
At the MBA, we know the importance of supporting small businesses. And small business growth is 50 percent of our national GDP. Firms with fewer than 100 employees make up more than 98% of all business in our country and employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.
To celebrate this growth during such challenging times, here is a quick Q&A with Dr. Erickson.
What was the catalyst for/goals of the expansion?
After I joined the practice in 2016, it became evident that we were running out of space to see patients. We needed to update the site and facilities to support our expanding services. We also want to offer more services in the future.
We purchased two buildings adjacent to our current practice and designed plans to build a new, 7,500 square-foot office. We know Center City business improvements are a focus for the City of Midland and we are proud that our new building supports that.
How many new and retained jobs will this expansion support?
Four to six new jobs and ten retained jobs.
What new services or products do you have?
We’ll continue to provide eye screenings for three-year-old patients at no charge, eye exams, a full-service drop-in optical department, digital photo documentation, and our onsite, state-of-the-art lab.
Our new building will give us the room we need to offer new services, including ortho-k (service for kids to reduce how near-sighted they will be as adults with contact lenses). We also plan to expand medical services for diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye.
How did your practice and the expansion survive the COVID shutdowns?
Luckily, Midland Eye Associates kept a healthy, rainy-day fund in anticipation of a grand opening for the new facility. However, between that fund and the PPP Loan programs, we remained healthy even though the State Executive Orders closed our practice for two months. Since the shutdowns, things have been busy for us. People are adjusting to life with more time spent on electronic devices, which affects eyesight. They are also dealing with foggy glasses due to facemasks. These two things have created a strong demand for new solutions to COVID-related lifestyle changes.
How did the MBA help your expansion?
The MBA provided helpful direction and contacts to the City of Midland for permitting, introductions to necessary contacts at Consumers Energy, connections to PTAC, and soft skills training information for new employees. You (the MBA) also investigated potential funding that would support our expansion and provided COVID-19 business toolkits, webinars, executive order information. These helped us navigate the pandemic.
Besides COVID and flooding, were there other impactful barriers to expansion?
Luckily, and with the help of the MBA, extraordinary barriers to our expansion have been few to none.
What is the date for the anticipated grand opening of the new building?
Barring no future, unexpected set-backs, we anticipate an April 2021 opening date.
You can learn more about Midland Eye Associates’ offering on their website.
If you have an expansion that you need help with, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Tina Lynch at email@example.com