Interview | A Passion for Vision, Hi-End Eyeglasses for a Better Life - RBSC ( March 2008 )
A Passion for Vision Hi-End Eyeglasses for a Better Life
Khun Somboon Chaowanakosol, better known as Master Bobi, is certainly not shy about coming forward to tell you about his achievements, but then he has achieved a lot. He has an amazing passion for his work an almost messianic desire to share his thoughts, ideas and beliefs with both his customers and the world.
Bobi is the owner of ISOPTIK, the hi-end eyeglasses centre located on the 4th floor of the ERAWAN BANGKOK in the fashionable heart of downtown Bangkok. Describing ISOPTIK is a case of superlatives, after all this is a store that stocks the most expensive eyeglasses in the world, with some pairs coming in at a cool half a million Baht, and boasts the very latest in cutting edge technology and equipment.
But, you could also use superlatives to describe the man behind the store. Bobi has earned the title of one of the best progressive lenses fitters in the world capable of giving his customers the quality of hi-end vision they enjoyed when they were young. Such is his reputation that he is now courted by opticians, doctors and lenses manufacturers from all over the globe keen to learn from his techniques and unrivalled experience.
His enthusiasm is definitely infectious and when you meet him you can't help but get swept up in the passion he shows for his subject. "You have to love what you do. If you do then you will enjoy your work but also do very well in your work. I make eyeglasses with all of my heart," points out the master lenses fitter. "I don't care about profit and loss all I care about is my customers, my happiness is when my helps gives my customers a better life. At the end of the day I am not selling eyeglasses I am selling the best vision for better life."
A Passion is Born
Master Bobi, now 42, was a man born into the world of vision and optiks. He grew up in Trang where his father ran a highly successful optiks shop specialising in high quality, hi-end eyeglasses and even from an early age, Bobi understood the importance of good vision to his father's customers. Indeed, talking to him there are two clear episodes in his childhood that clearly played a major role in setting him on the career path that he now pursues with such a passion. The first of these was the very personal and painful experience of him having to watch his grandmother goes blind. "She went to the doctor's but it was too late," he remembers, "the trauma and the fact that she realised she would never get to see her grandchild really affected her." The real tragedy, according to Bobi, was the fact that his grandmother's condition was completely curable if treated early enough. "It really made me decide that when I grew up I wanted to do something about it." The second memory was a more positive, if very prophetic, experience. When he was just 7 years old Bobi was in the family shop when an old customer who had moved away to the other side of Thailand the previous year came to see his father. Despite being away for twelve months and having visited countless optiks stores around his new neighborhood, he complained that he had simply been unable to find a pair of eyeglasses that offered the same comfort and clarity of vision as those made by Bobi's father.
After being successfully fitted with some new eyeglasses, the man then asked what he would do when Bobi's father was no longer around to help him?. "My dad pointed at me and said when I am not around then you can get the world's best eyeglasses from him." So the seed was born, a seed that Bobi worked hard to nurture and grow. "When the other kids were out playing, I was always with my father asking questions, studying what he was doing." Since that moment, aside from a short spell at college, he could always be found alongside his father learning all he could. "I was working hard trying to help fix customers' problems, even working with doctors to help them to not just see better but to help retain people's vision for longer in life." As well as assisting his father to implement new techniques for fitting a lot of hi-end eyeglasses he also helped train his brothers and sister in the family business, setting up a system to teach them and ensure that they occupied the best position in the market. "If I am the world's best then they are definitely the 2nd best in the world," he half jokes. In fact, it was only 5 years ago, at the age of 37, that he finally decided he had done everything he could at the family store. So started the next phase of his life as he moved to be the world best advance progressive lenses trainer in Bangkok and worldwide.
A New Discovery
It was at around the same time that he first came across the invention that would change his life and his attitude to vision progressive lenses. Whilst progressive lenses where actually first developed in the early 1900s, it is only in the last ten years or so that they have become a practical alternative to other types of lenses used in eyeglasses. In the past, anyone who was has problem seeing close up objects, say reading the newspaper, and also in focusing on distant objects would be forced into having two pairs of glasses or alternatively adopting bi-focal
lenses. However, developments to progressive lenses changed all that providing the wearers with a smooth transition from distance through intermediate to near, with all the in-between corrections included as well. The constant graduation of the prescription means that you can look up to see in the distance, look ahead to view your computer in the intermediate zone, and drop your gaze down to read all without having to concentrate or change glasses. Bobi still clearly remembers the first time he fitted progressive lenses for a client, a 60 year-old man who had previously used bi-focal glasses but was unhappy with the quality of vision they offered. "The results surprised us both; he said he felt young again because he could clearly see at all different distances with no effort." "I just thought wow, if progressive lenses can help people see like they are young again then I have to try and recommend them for everyone. I have to try to tell the world and help everyone to have a better life." So began a mission which he has pursued with an unyielding determination.
"I made a decision to put all of my heart into progressive lenses. At the time a lot of people didn't know anything about them and there were a lot of very negative feedbacks relating to them from doctors and opticians. I didn't understand why because when I tried them they worked perfectly since the first time!" After this Eureka moment Master Bobi dedicated all his spare time to find out more by spending 16 hours a day studying progressive lenses. "I was lucky that I already had lots of customers, there are a lot of people for me to practice on," he says laughing. "I was able to focus on all the aspects of the process: the concept, the design, the technology and I found out that what worked for some people may not work for others." "It can be quite a complicated procedure as there are so many different variables to consider, for a start there are 300 different types of lenses! The detailed adjustment to the lenses and the frames all make a vital difference."
Aside from the hands on testing, Bobi also spent a lot of time talking to other experts in this field and questioning many professor from manufacturers of progressive lenses who were based in Japan, Germany and worldwide to find out more and to ensure that his clients received the very best level of service and satisfaction. "The thing was the more questions I started to ask the fewer answers people could give me. In the end, they began to say Bobi you know more about this than us, so they now learn from me and ask me the questions!"
In fact, Master Bobi now regularly holds seminars and training sessions, both in Bangkok and overseas, to train other progressive lenses specialists on his techniques and practices. This initially may seem strange, after all, many would suggest that it would be better for his business to keep these techniques and practices to themselves, but Bobi disagrees. "I love my students so why keep this system a secret? There are 3 billions people who have problems with their eyesight and we now know how to give them their vision back. I am only one person and no matter how hard I work I would not be able to handle more than a million
people, can't do it alone! It's much better that I share my knowledge, tell them everything and share the happiness." He has already trained around a thousand other progressive lenses specialists and hopes to reach out to more through his website www.apcthai.com ( Advance Progressive Addition Lenses Club ), which features downloads and video tutorials. "At the end of the day I am proud that I am making a difference and particularly proud that I am a Thai person who has reached this position."
Whilst it is clear that Bobi is an expert in his field, this in fact only tells half the story of the success of ISOPTIK. The other has to be the results that keep customers coming back for more, even when the glasses are up to 20x more expensive than standard eyeglasses. Bobi is adamant that the cost is irrelevant when compared to the improvement his clients' experience. "Normal eyeglasses can make you see better or clearer but ISOPTIK eyeglasses give you instant crystal clear vision at any distances as if you were young again and with no concentration required." As he points out, the key to the store, and Master Bobi's, success is in the seeing. These eyeglasses might cost more but they help you see better, feel better, look better and in turn work better. You can enjoy your life more and, as Bobi explains, they can also help you to earn more money in the long run.
For many people, good vision is a key component of their job. If you are a doctor performing specialist surgery, a watch or jewellery designer working with miniature parts or even a busy executive studying the markets on your monitor, you need precious high quality vision. As he puts it, Bobi is working with something very precious, the patient's life. "These lenses are perfect for people who need perfect vision, the lenses we sell are a special weapon to help you work with precision all day long." "So taking this argument further, if you can work better, then you can earn more money. I believe that they make you work 10% better so you can make 10% more money and make you 10% more relaxed. So after three years, you have more than made the money back that you spent." "With conventional eyeglasses your eyes can be tired after around few hours.
After a hard day at workyou get home and you are tired, you don't have energy to enjoy with your family. If you can work better, you can also work faster, freeing up more beautiful time for you to spend with your family." "These eyeglasses make people's lives richer in all sorts of ways, they give better sight for a better life," he states, "when you think of it this way they are actually very cheap." What's more, he is so confident in the beneficial properties of his products that he offers a quite extraordinary guarantee to his customer. Any customer who is not entirely happy with their eyeglasses can feel free to return them within six months of purchase. "If you don't feel they are giving you a better life for whatever reason, then you can get your money back, no questions asked," he
explains. "People think I am crazy but we find that when people do come back, they come to order extra pairs not to return the original pair!" He also has the policy of providing replacement glasses at 50% of the original price and will even organise for emergency glasses to be delivered to customers if they lose or break their original pair. "It's strange, people live for 50 years without these glasses but then they find that they can't go for one week without them." Whilst both the above services might seem a surefire method for rapid bankruptcy Bobi argues that he has a responsibility to his clients which is more important than profits. "At the end of the day, I am not selling eyeglasses I am selling a better life by best vision." As an example, he cites the case of a customer who came in and bought a pair of eyeglasses from ISOPTIK. He was incredibly happy with the transformation they made to his life but there was one sticking point, the fact that his wife didn't like the frames he had selected. Rather than worry about this extra expense Bobi happily changed them at no charge to make sure both husband and wife were happy. Apparently the client was so impressed with this level of service he recommended other clients. As Bobi points out: "I don't care about profits, I care about my customer everything else will work itself out in the end. I trust my customers; I believe they have a good heart. The best investment is to invest in the happiness of the client."
Bobi has already come a long way from a small boy watching his father work in the shop in Trang. For many years, he is the undisputed expert in progressive lenses and is constantly in demand for people from all over the world wanting to find out his secrets. Even so, despite the constant demands on his time he still has his sights set firmly on the future, and is already planning to expand his current store. He is also considering taking the ISOPTIK experience overseas with new shops in Dubai, Shanghai and Copenhagen to satisfy his growing ranks of customers who come from outside Thailand. But, it seems that even this
super-man has his limits. "I think 3 new stores are probably enough," he reflects, "there are only so many hours in the day and I only have so much time to give." He is clearly a man who already lives life to the full and believes that he has a mission to ensure that he helps as many other people as possible do the same. "Life is too short to limit your vision, limit your vision = limit your life. I have the means to give people a better life through best vision." And I am sure that all those people who have already experienced his magic touch would agree long may he continue to do so
All hi-end eyeglasses from ISOPTIK are the masterpieces with the state of art technology under strictly quality control by Master Bobi. These days, no matter how busy he is, Bobi spends his time taking care of his customers at ISOPTIK. If you are a Espresso lover, skip your cup of coffee and try the hi-end Espresso at ISOPTIK, because it is one of the tastiest in the world!
Nowaday, ISOPTIK had moved to
AIA CAPITAL CENTER ( AIACC ) Building, 2nd floor , Room 208 plaza zone , located on Ratchadapisek Road , 20 meters futher from The Embassy of the People's Republic of China , Next to the “ Stock Exchange of Thailand ” building and 120 meters just before the MRT Thailand Cultural Centre station.
Opening every Tuesday to Saturday at 11:00 - 19:00
Close every Sunday and Monday
Reservation : 086-565-5711 or 086-970-0794
For the map and guideline, please visit our link below :
" Only Believe "
A Testimonial From ISOPTIK’s Customers
Read more about ISOPTIK’s Super Individual Progressive Eyeglasses
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