By Paddy Kamen
Modular Design Systems Inc. (MDS) is an overnight success, 25 years in the making. Owned and operated by Frank Fumagalli and Brian Wolcovitch, MDS has impressed and influenced the optical industry since its inception in 1989.
What started out as a chance meeting in 1998 between Fumagalli, a general contractor and Wolcovitch, a frame sales rep and office space planner, turned into an amazing collaboration, for each man had one of two essential skill sets required for designing and building world class offices.
The two met when Fumagalli, a contractor with a background in architecture and furniture design, was building an office that Wolcovitch had designed.
As they got to know each other and worked together, they became friends. Wolcovitch told Fumagalli about a new display concept he envisioned, which was a variation of the acrylic frame rod he introduced to the optical industry in 1976.
Wolcovitch wanted to make the new display totally flexible, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. Fumagalli came to him a week later with a full set of blueprints, resolving the flexibility issues. Together, they developed and patented the display system.
As it turns out, Fumagalli was training to be an architectural technician in his home country of Argentina. Typical of foreigners entering a new country, Canada didn’t recognize his credentials and like so many others before him, Fumagalli had to find a way to make a living. He learned everything there was to know about the building industry and at the time of their meeting, was one of the best general contractors Wolcovitch had ever worked with.
Wolcovitch taught his new partner everything there is to know about designing an optometric office and Fumagalli in turn, taught Wolcovitch every aspect of building an office and designing furniture.
Consequently, both men bring considerable know-how to bear on every office they design. Elena Fumagalli, Frank’s wife, makes two essential contributions to the company: she runs the office, and also creates the gorgeous colour schemes that complete every office designed by MDS.
Wolcovitch knows the optical business thoroughly and is very clear about the complex web of needs, all of which must be met in the well-designed office.
“Aesthetics are a critical element because when people love an environment, they enjoy spending time in it and they purchase better product, much more often. But just as important to our clients is the flow aspect of the design,” he says.
By ‘flow’ Wolcovitch is referring to the way people – both staff and patients – move through the space. While patients move in a natural flow from the reception desk to the waiting room, on to the pre-test area and examination rooms, staff have to move efficiently behind the scenes, all day long. He explains: “It’s all about understanding the complex needs of our client, and my 38 years in the industry has given me that knowledge.”
Placement of the dispensary is key to letting patients know that all of their eyecare needs will be met at your location. “The best results you can achieve from your dispensary come from the dispensary’s location – front and center,” says Wolcovitch. “Patients must sit next to it, pass right by it or directly through it en route to and from the diagnostic areas of the office. Everything about the dispensary must have a ‘Wow’ factor that will ensure the best possible return on your investment.”
The patented display system that helped to launch MDS is another major element in the unique package of skills, expertise and products that makes MDS the leader in office design. The success of the MDS frame display system lies in its visual beauty and its versatility. It signals to customers what they can expect to find when they get up close. “There’s no longer any need to have stunning posters leaning against a wall, or on the floor, or POP displays cluttering up counters and table tops,” says Wolcovitch. “When patients walk through a dispensary that employs our system they are drawn in by the posters which are displayed directly, in amongst the frames. The frame products are beautifully lit and dynamically displayed. Patients don’t have to guess what brands you carry.”
A wide variety of holders are available for the MDS frame display system, from single acrylic frames holders to trays of frames, allowing you to display as many or as few frames as you want. Holders can easily be repositioned at any time, so there won’t be gaping holes in the display after sales have been made, or empty holders can be removed and stored until new product comes in. Stock rotation is simple and convenient, and the whole board can be redesigned quickly for fresh impact.
The frame dispensary is, or should be, the largest profit center in the office and Wolcovitch has the clients to prove that with MDS designing your office, it is. “The return on investment for the eyecare professional (ECP) can be phenomenal. On average, ECPs dispense to five out of 10 patients who need eyeglasses. Our dispensaries garner sales from 7 out of 10 to 10 out of 10 patients. This represents a huge increase in profits.”
Not long ago, a client told Wolcovitch that in the first month after their newly renovated office re-opened, they experienced the strongest month of sales in their 25-year history and that month was January, traditionally the slowest month of the whole year. Also recently, MDS had a group of doctors tell them they wanted to double the size of the dispensary in their new office design, citing the fact that frame sales represented 60 per cent of their revenues.
With MDS, it’s about so much more than aesthetics. “We create beautiful offices, with wonderful colour schemes and sensory inputs on every level,” notes Wolcovitch. “But perhaps more importantly, we make every work day a pleasure for staff because they can do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Fluid design gives competent staff the tools necessary to help grow a practice and gives patients the impetus to remain with the client for all of their services.”
You can see many examples of MDS magic at www.modular-design.com.