Zeiss – Australia’s oldest player in the ophthalmology space – is celebrating.
This year the company marks 60 years in Australia/New Zealand and 175 years since being established by Carl Zeiss in Germany.
Our roadmap not only focusses on innovations in hardware but… on digital solutions and data management platforms to connect technologies across complete workflow
Now, with its local medical, vision care, and microscopy and research divisions housed in state-of-the-art premises across Australia and New Zealand, the local entity has moved into a new era under the leadership of Rene Hessling.
Outgoing Managing Director Joe Redner said the company will be in good hands under the leadership of Mr Hessling, who has worked with Zeiss for 19 years, the most recent six in Australia.
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Rene for 10 years. He knows our organisation well, having been responsible for leading our ANZ Industrial Quality and Research division for six years. Rene brings a lot of experience and a fresh perspective to the role, and I’ve every confidence that he will take our company to the next level,” said Mr Redner.
Mr Redner worked for Zeiss for 21 years (19 of those in Australia) before retiring on 30 September. He commenced his working life with Zeiss in Germany and relocated to Sydney in 2002 to assume leadership of the company’s Medical Division. Mr Redner was appointed Managing Director in 2007 but also managed all three of the company’s divisions at one time or another.
Describing those early years as “a lot of fun”, he said the development of the company over 21 years has been fulfilling.
“I was fortunate to join the company when I did as we introduced several groundbreaking technologies during that period including optical biometry (the IOL Master) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). Later came the Visumax femtosecond laser, the SMILE procedure and the addition of our Vision Care business. The combination of these, with an already strong portfolio, created many opportunities and allowed us to invest significantly in our local business.”
Indeed, the Medical Division of Zeiss Australia and New Zealand grew from just five people to 75 under Mr Redner’s leadership. The company ceased representation via dealers in Western Australia and Tasmania and invested heavily in infrastructure in the form of offices/labs built in Queensland, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.
“Much of our investment has been in our service department. We’re proud that we’re the largest field service team in our field. When you add in our remote service and applications teams, we think we’re well positioned to support our customers’ success,” said Mr Redner.
The growth has continued with Zeiss opening an AU$6 million state-of-the-art lens laboratory in Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide in 2016. On 1 October, Zeiss moved its Sydney office to a new space with an impressive interactive showroom, where medical equipment can be demonstrated and trialed by customers. Additionally, a new, purpose-built lab is about to be opened in Castle Hill in Sydney’s north-west.
Reflecting on his career with Zeiss, Mr Redner said one of the highlights was the initiation of Zeiss’ Back to Bush program in 2006.
“We donate new and used diagnostic and surgical equipment to needful sites around our region to support ANZ surgeons and optometrists in providing care to underprivileged areas. We now have over 100 microscopes and diagnostic devices throughout the Australian outback, greater Oceania and Southeast Asia,” Mr Redner said.
Most recently, Back to Bush supported the work of Lions Outback Vision by donating equipment to the Northwest Eye Hub in Broome, which is a part of the Lions Eye Institute in Perth.
“This is a nice way to give back,” explained Mr Redner. “We work closely with the users and recipients to ensure the equipment we donate is carefully selected to meet the needs and environment of its destination – it has to be a good fit and sustainable to be useful.”
Additionally, he said, Zeiss supports all donated equipment with training, parts and maintenance. As he leaves Zeiss Australia in its 60th year, Mr Redner said he is looking forward to spending time as a volunteer on bush fire recovery and ecological projects. “Australia is our home; with time, and through volunteering and travelling, I’m looking forward to seeing more of the country,” he concluded.
LAUNCHES ON THE HORIZON
Meanwhile, back at Zeiss, Mr Hessling is looking forward to contributing to the organisation as a whole. “With a history of 175 years, a broad range of cutting-edge technologies across different markets, a unique company culture and an extremely passionate team of employees, Zeiss is a fascinating organisation to work for. In my previous role, I’ve worked extensively with the life science and material science research communities across Australia and New Zealand. I’m very excited to now be engaging more broadly with the medical and vision care divisions and our customers within these markets.”
Mr Hessling said Zeiss has numerous products to launch across the different business sectors.
“Our roadmap not only focusses on innovations in hardware but in particular, on digital solutions and data management platforms to connect technologies across complete workflow. We currently have a very experienced team, which we will further expand, and I look forward to working with them to best support these new technologies across Australia and New Zealand.”