Newcon International was originally set up to export shoes to Russia.
One day, a customer paid for their shoes with $50,000 worth of night-vision
binoculars instead of cash. The company began peddling the binoculars to sports
stores in Toronto and Montreal. Overnight, Newcon's booming new business
Newcon now makes specialty optical equipment. It grosses $4.4 million a
year. Prior to launching the business, Beker worked in a Russian optical factory
for 25 years. Industry contacts proved valuable in finding the wholesaler
that supplied Newcon with raw materials for the first two years it was in
Specialty optical equipment manufacturers produce a variety of items --
from microscopes and gun scopes, to night-vision binoculars and telescopes.
These businesses cater to a very special group of end-users -- specialty retailers,
wholesalers, and optical distributors. They in turn sell the company's
product to doctors, surgeons, scientists, educators and other professionals.
"We're looking forward to continued growth through further improvements
in our existing product line, new strategic alliances, and the establishment
of more distributors worldwide," says Prilik. "We plan to keep our legacy
of providing outstanding value and excellent service to our existing and new
The company's new offerings include stabilized binoculars, which maintain
a steady image in shaky hands. "[The] American military-spec project is very
expensive," says Nick Efston, owner of an optics distribution company, in
Profit magazine. "Newcon has a very good product at a very good price that's
an affordable alternative for consumers."
Expanding Fields of Vision
In the ring with Newcon are many other successful manufacturers who have
found their niche in the world of specialty optics. Among them are Leica and
Carl Zeiss, Inc. -- two industry bigwigs whose names can be found on cameras,
lenses and optical equipment worldwide.
According to Carl Zeiss -- a 150-year-old, New York-based company -- optical
engineering is one of the most exacting technologies known to man, and progress
in the field requires ever-increasing accuracy and precision.
And precision and accuracy pay well. "You can reasonably expect to earn
about $50,000 to $100,000 a year -- after two to three years of starving,"
As with any new company, it's best to have an additional source of
income, or savings that will carry you through. You may have to live meagerly
during your business's infancy, but it'll all pay off with effort
Med Link Medical
Company size or longevity isn't Med Link Medical's bragging point.
The manufacturer of surgical microscopes has found success -- to the tune
of about $3 million worth of microscopes, each of which are valued at $75,000.
But they've done it by catering to a small niche market largely ignored
by industry giants: surgeons who do reconstructive microsurgery. That includes
breast reconstructions, limb reattachments, and similar procedures related
to trauma or cancer.
Lynn Kellen founded Med Link Medical -- she's a registered nurse with
no background in business management. "I saw the need and I thought I could
fill it. Being out of a job at the time, I was also too dumb to know what
I was getting myself into!"
Med Link was started with a $90,000 Small Business Association loan and
about $100,000 in investments from development funds run by Kellen's
For those looking to discover the next must-have piece of optical equipment,
patience and determination will prove important during the initial stages.
"A background in marketing would be best for someone who wants to start
a similar business," says Prilik. "First, you'll need to find your competitive
product -- your niche. That will be the foundation of your successful business."
The entire industry is growing steadily -- microscopes and telescopes will
always be in demand, and all industries (medicine in particular) are evolving
In addition, there'll always be room in the field for
smaller manufacturers who can create products for specialty markets, rather
than mass markets.
Michael Beker and Arie Prilik's company
Carl Zeiss, Inc.
This 150-year-old firm is at the forefront of specialty optical
Med Link Medical
Kellen's company, which specializes in reconstructive surgical