Norman Childs, the visionary behind Eyetique, has prescribed a new life for himself. Retirement, and a return to projects that for years received peripheral attention due to Eyetique’s demands, will now command Child’s focus.
In a letter to friends, customers and the general public, the 59-year-old Squirrel Hill native announced his recent decision.
“After nearly 40 years of leading Eyetique, I have decided to retire and take on some new challenges in my life. But before I go, I wanted to say thank you for the years of support that you have shown me.”
The decision to step down from Eyetique, a company that Childs founded in 1979, was not without difficulty, he explained. “When you do something for so long and with such passion for what you do, it’s a bit difficult to walk away.”
Nonetheless, that decision was completed on March 27 in a transaction with Riata Capital Group, a Dallas-based company that recently acquired Crown Vision Center of St. Louis and the International Eyecare Center of Quincy, Ill..
Riata has named its eyecare conglomerate Acuity Eyecare Holdings.
“We are excited to build upon our strong network of relationships, experience and track record in the eyecare industry to create Acuity Eyecare. We understand the pressures, as well as the opportunities, for optometrists as the industry continues to evolve. As such, we see the formation of larger and vertically integrated corporate entities leading some smaller and mid-sized providers to consider partnering with groups like Acuity that can provide capable business, financial and commercial support, allowing optometrists and their staffs to focus on meeting the eye care and product needs of their patients,” said Jeff Fronterhouse, co-managing partner of Riata, in a prepared statement.
Although Childs will theoretically vanish from Eyetique, familiar faces will remain.
Brad Childs, Norman’s brother who has worked “beside” him for 19 years, will be “taking the reins” of Eyetique, said the former owner.
Additionally, Daniel Childs, Norman’s son who developed Chromos Eyewear, will become the company’s marketing director, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“I chose to move on, and I wanted to give other people in our company key opportunities to grow,” said Eyetique’s founder.
Childs, and his wife, Gail, who have long supported local and regional efforts, have not yet determined which causes will receive newfound time.
In the interim, however, Childs plans on chipping away at something of growing concern.
“My handicap is 25, and I really want to get it down to the teens by the end of the summer.”
In order to do so, he has hired a golf coach to help him several times per week. Pair that with future travel plans and Childs will be able to blind his mind to recent heartache.
After last month’s transaction, Childs traveled to clean out his office.
“I walked in and walked out.”
The emotional strain of entering a spot he occupied for nearly four decades was rather “tough,” he explained.
Memories and materials stirred some sentiment. “I have the same desk my dad bought me for $40 in 1979,” he said.
Resting alongside the workstation, which came from a second-hand store, were photographs and original advertisements — promotional pieces with recognizable faces that helped identify Eyetique’s uniqueness.
“These mean so much to me. They are things you can’t give away,” said Childs.
But come next week, after he returns from a Southern visit, the Squirrel Hill resident will see to it that the job is finished.
“I will have to man up,” he said.
Such will be another task completed by Childs, a person who has accomplished much, noted City Councilman Corey O’Connor.
“Norman has a get-it-done attitude,” said O’Connor. “He has been a huge asset for the Squirrel Hill community.”
“We live in Squirrel Hill. I want to see Squirrel Hill flourish,” said Childs.
It is not a myopic desire. Childs remains deeply indebted to the residents and others who traveled into the neighborhood throughout the years. Because of their support, Eyetique was able to expand to 22 locations.
“If not for Squirrel Hill, where would our company be today?” Childs said. “I truly appreciate everybody.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.