Lenstec has experienced steady growth during our 20 years in Barbados and we have successfully graduated from being a ‘me-too’ manufacturer to one that is now internationally renowned for innovation and the design and development of leading-edge medical device technologies.
Barbados is not the cheapest place to operate, nor is it the most technologically advanced, but it does fit neatly into a sweet spot between the mass market advantages provided by a country like India, and the very high-end, automated technology of somewhere like the USA. Lenstec competes within the more lucrative premium lens market, so we can somewhat afford the higher production costs in return for the ready availability of a balanced supply of university degreed technicians and well-educated production line employees.
Lenstec’s team of scientists and engineers, who are all graduates from the Barbados Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), or the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, are responsible for all the design testing, product validation and regulatory documentation of the company’s products. Our Microbiology Department employs three Masters and Bachelors qualified Microbiologists, who constantly monitor production and run programmes aimed at further honing the cleanliness of the products. This has resulted in Lenstec setting new, higher global standards for the cleanliness of medical devices, as required by the United States Food and Drug Administration. As a result, our plant now has more lenses approved in the USA than any other company in the world.
We operate in a very dynamic global market, which can fluctuate in a heartbeat, so we can’t sit still. We have to be nimble and agile enough to adapt to survive. Lenstec launched four new products last year alone, and we currently have another new, high-end lens in clinical trials in the USA, which we expect to be approved in the next two years. That will not result in a big increase in volume, but because it is a higher priced product, it will increase our revenue.
Occasionally we butt up against some unexpected challenges, as would be the case in most locations, but Barbados has generally proven to be a successful base for our business. The overall package still works for us and, now that we are producing in excess of 650,000 lenses per year, we are considering moving into a bigger facility to expand even more.