It's not uncommon for a disgruntled factory worker to tell his children the doomsday mantra: "Stay in school or you'll work in a place like this."
Not so at Daysoft, the Lanarkshire manufacturing company whose founding father invented affordable everyday contact lenses.
Since production began in 2001 at the 30,000 square foot facility in the Hamilton Business Park in Blantyre, Daysoft has employed around 300 people, mostly Lanarkshire residents.
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And many of those workers are husbands and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and cousins.
CEO Dr. Ron Hamilton, his wife and CEO Moya and CEO Alan Ralph are very proud that Daysoft's 200 employees enjoy their work so much that they actively encourage their loved ones to follow them through the factory gates into rewarding careers with real prospects.
Take, for example, the couple Tony and Lorraine Whyte, who have worked together at Daysoft for 40 years.
There were just 13 employees on the payroll when Alan, who held top positions internationally, was lured from a lucrative position in the Republic of Ireland to an almost empty factory in Blantyre.
Upon meeting Ron Hamilton, the visionary who would revolutionize the contact lens market, Alan discovered the entrepreneur's passion for his product and the people who would make it contagious.
Realizing that this was an opportunity to be a part of something very special right from the start, Alan took his family from the Emerald Isle to join what is now one of Lanarkshire's largest private sector employers.
Not far behind him at the Daysoft signing was 22-year-old executive producer John Brown.
"It's common for people who work here to have 20 years of service," explained John.
"And 15 years of service is pretty common."
But these are not workers who stay because they have nowhere else to go.
Daysoft, notes MD Alan, has earned the loyalty of its workforce through the stable, inclusive work environment the company has created.
In addition, the key to employee performance and morale, says Alan, is his own visibility on the shop floor, where he greets each employee on a first-name basis.
“It's absolutely critical that company leaders are on the front lines and never lie,” he said.
Here are the first names. No question is taboo. Ideas are always welcome. Perhaps 99 percent of them crash and burn, but everyone has a chance to move forward with their idea.
“If Evelyn, the cleaning lady, doesn't come to work, the company will stop working. She is as important as I am.
“Nobody is going to leave here a millionaire with their salary. But what people get here is opportunity.
"They go to customer service, to IT, they become supervisors, production managers."
Daysoft employees can produce 300,000 contact lenses a day, up to 1.3 million a week.
But that sizable volume makes no sense of drudgery in this production hive, where much of the multibillion-dollar technology was developed by a group of talented engineers sitting in a room on top of the purring machinery that was created by their creation. .
The story of Steven Corrigan's rise through the ranks is typical of a former Daysoft employee.
After starting on the lowest rung of the ladder in 2002, he was promoted to team leader and is now a compliance manager.
"Once you're in, you're in with the bricks. It's always been that way," said Steven, 50, whose son Jay became the first child of a Daysoft employee 21 years ago.
Led by Steven and his team, orders are shipped daily to customers in over 100 countries around the world.
To illustrate, he dives into a giant mailbag and pulls out flat packs of hand-assembled everyday contact lenses destined for faraway countries like Israel, Canada, the Caribbean, China and Japan.
Some go to British forces abroad, others fly to Vatican City.
Regardless of the destination, all orders have one thing in common: from order acceptance and production to packaging and shipping, daysoft takes care of every step of the process with precision.
There are no middlemen, middlemen that drive up costs, and no other company in the industry can do that.
Because of this, the company estimates it has saved over £200m for customers who have switched from other providers.
At all levels of the company, it is clear that Founding President Ron and his wife Moya, who founded the only company in the highly regulated medical device industry where manufacturing and supply functions run under one roof, are very much appreciated.
Daysoft's lack of an HR department dates back to Ron's days as a 17-year-old intern at the Hoover Cambuslang factory.
So when he had a complaint, he took it to his foreman, not "someone in an office down the hall."
As an apprentice, Ron's time was divided between practical training in manufacturing and product design and academic studies at what is now the University of Strathclyde.
Uddingston Grammar School alumni, childhood sweetheart Ron, and Moya, a trainee teacher, were married in 1963. Four years later, Ron emigrated to Canada and took a job with Kimberly Clark, a pioneer of the tissue bucket.
After the birth of their son Andrew, the couple moved back to the UK, where Ron ran Thorn EMI's appliance division.
When the division's board of directors turned down his request for an investment in a new machine to inject $35 million into the 1981 American-British comedy film Honkey Tonk Freeway, he felt it was time to move on.
The film failed spectacularly and became one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, with Thorn sponsor EMI losing between $11 million and $22 million.
Below, his resume honors California-based CooperVision, a global giant that makes a healthy profit manufacturing contact lens cleaning solutions.
This sparked an idea in Ron, who was ready to take control of his own destiny.
He and Moya purchased a house in Southampton with an attached double garage, a 650-square-foot space that would become their humble laboratory.
From these humble beginnings, Ron began making contact lenses on his 50th birthday, using Moya's pressure cooker as a sterilizer.
When he was awarded a £15,000 Smart Start-up award, the industry sat up and took notice.
A BBC World Service call followed an article in The Optician magazine.
Now, with the University of Manchester recommending its product, Boots Opticians has started to snoop around.
At a time when a single soft contact lens cost £54 and wearers were spending over £100 a year on cleaning solution, Ron was confident that his daily disposable lens would sell for just 50 cents.
“People didn't know whether to believe you or certify you,” he said. "For many, it sounded too good to be true."
Due to interest in Boots Opticians, management requested a meeting at Ron and Moya's home in 1988 to see the progress of the process.
"We met them in a room in the back garden and gave them a demonstration," recalls Ron.
His humble presentation was impressive and the Boots optics delegation was interested
under the premise that both quality and cost meet expectations.
Commercial confirmation soon followed.
In his quest for funding, Ron made a 'very artisanal' presentation to Scottish Enterprise (SE) of his 'cutting mustard' concept for the Scottish Government.
Eventually a £750,000 financing package was put in place, with gap funding provided by British Coal, Lothian & Edinburgh Enterprise and SE.
By 1990, a production line was operating at the Livingston facility and Boots branded disposable lenses were selling "like hotcakes".
The wildly successful company was sold to a global eye care giant in a multi-million dollar deal.
Fast forward to 1998, when the SE Hamiltons were invited to join a group of businessmen on a research trip to the United States to get to grips with a phenomenon known as the "Internet".
"We can see this take off," said Ron, whose facility is in Hamilton Business Park.
they were under construction at the time.
And so the Daysoft model was born. With 100,000 people worldwide wearing Daysoft contact lenses every day at a price of just 20p per lens, the company, the only one in the world to manufacture lenses and sell them directly to customers, now competes with US giants such as Johnson & Johnson, CooperVision and Bausch & Lomb.
Now that the couple are in their 80s, Ron swears he doesn't think about work during the four hours a week he spends at the office, a claim.
Moya responds with an amusing taunt.
The Lanarkshire Manufacturing Gentleman, who is determined to continue to grow Daysoft's operations, said: “We have to be realistic.
“It's a situation that Alan, Moya and I think about on a daily basis.
"It's something we have to do for the good of the people who work here and built this business."
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