Interview: Scott Shapiro
How was your company founded?
Cynthia and Alan Shapiro started Europa in 1977, working out of a friend’s garage. At the time, the entire collection consisted of just 6 styles. Over the past 39 years, we’ve grown to a catalogue of about 500 styles by relying on the same values and principles on which we were founded.
What is one little-known fact about your company?
A lot of people know we’re a “family company”, but not many know what that really means or how deep it goes. Europa was founded by my parents. My mom is still the CEO, my uncle is a vice president and my cousin helps run our distribution center. Our president, Jerry Wolowicz, used to babysit me. But our family company is not just about my family. Over 10% of our sales force has an immediate family member who is also employed by Europa. In our home office we have countless siblings, parents and offspring who have been brought onto our team by existing employees. To us, that’s a great testament to the fact that people are happy with their careers at Europa. If you’re willing to bring your son or daughter into our organization, you must think it’s a pretty worthwhile place to work.
What’s one thing you’d like to share with opticians?
I want opticians all over the world to know that we realize how important they are to the eye care process. In the US, we have a problem- too many people outside of our industry have no idea what an optician does or how vital they are to a patient’s vision. We believe it’s our responsibility to make sure there is a well-educated, well-trained and committed professional optician at every eye care facility in the country, and that patients understand their value. That’s why we support the OAA, The Daily Optician, and state opticians’ organizations the way we do.
Why are you a great company to work for?
In everything we do, we always put people first.
What inspires you at work?
At Europa, we dedicate ourselves to being “Independent for the Independent”. That means we have to use our independent spirit, our free-thinking innovation and sometimes a healthy disregard for the “rules” in order to help the independent ECP thrive in today’s marketplace. We believe that a strong independent presence is essential to the well-being of our industry and to the health of eye care patients. It’s my challenge to make sure everyone in our organization knows that’s what they’re working towards every day.