By Denis Langlois

Grimard Optique founder Robert Grimard has been recognized as an International Optician of the Year.

The new award from Silmo and the International Opticians Association “recognizes the importance of the optician in the optical business and their role in the choice of the optimum products for their clientele,” according to the IOA.

Grimard, an optician since the 1970s, opened his first optical clinic in Montreal in 1980. After running his own practice for 25 years, he developed a professional and independent network of 22 high-end optical clinics.

IOA president Fiona Anderson said Grimard demonstrates the professionalism, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that are at the heart of the international optician of the year award and the optician profession.

Optical Prism recently spoke with Grimard, who has been an executive committee member of the Opticians Association of Canada since 1992 and chairman of the Opticians Council of Canada since 2015, about his award and company.

Q. What was your reaction to being named International Optician of the Year at Silmo?
A. I was very surprised and especially honoured to be named International Optician of the Year.
In my professional life, I have always tried to get involved in the advancement of my profession. I believe that by giving me this award, the IOA wanted to recognize my commitment to the profession of opticianry.

Q. Please give us a sense of the growth of Grimard Optique since its inception.
A. My partner and I opened our first store in 1980 on Saint-Denis Street with one other employee. In 2004, I bought a second location. My son had recently graduated as an optician and I had the idea to put together a group of stores to promote entrepreneurship among young opticians and for them to become shareholders in the company.
Since 2004, we have been buying the new locations one by one. We say that we are not acquiring furniture and inventory, but human resources. Our goal is to bring together experienced optical professionals with the younger generation of optical professionals and have them transfer to this younger generation their knowledge and experience.
Currently, we have 22 stores with 130 employees, including 36 opticians and 34 optometrists.

Q. Can you share with us some of the secrets to your success?
A. The secret of my success is very simple. I sum it up to these things: have a passion for opticianry; surround yourself with the right people; trust your employees; give back to the profession through volunteering; and work a lot without counting hours. Inevitably, by following these rules, success will follow.

Q. What do you enjoy most about being an optician?
A. I love the diversity of the profession. It is the perfect mix of fashion, technical and medical; no two customers are the same. I like the challenges of managing the business, but I also still dispense at my Saint-Denis Street location one day a week because I am totally passionate about opticianry.