Laura Angelini named Vistakon president
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc. announced Tuesday it appointed Laura Angelini as president of its North America businesses, including Jacksonville-based Vistakon.
Vistakon, based in Deerwood Park in Jacksonville's Southside, makes the Acuvue brand of disposable contact lenses.
Angelini succeeds Dave Brown, who held the same title. A Vistakon spokesman said Brown was "in the process of identifying his next opportunity within Johnson & Johnson."
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care said Angelini has more than 20 years of experience "building business and brands" at the company.
She has held sales and marketing leadership roles in the company's medical device and diagnostics segment and early in her career was responsible for introducing the 1-Day Acuvue brand of contact lenses to the Italian market.
The company said that most recently she "was challenged with the task of creating a global enterprise strategy for three previously separate businesses that came together to form Ethicon Surgical Care."
"Laura has compiled a consistent track record of leading growth and innovation throughout her Johnson & Johnson career," said Ashley McEvoy, company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care in a statement.
"I think the contact lens category and vision care community will strongly benefit from her passion for and understanding of customer needs," she said.
Acuvue and Vistakon are trademarks of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.
Vistakon, with almost 1,900 employees, is clearing the way for a $218 million expansion at its 7500 Centurion Parkway campus. The project will boost staffing to almost 2,000 employees.
The $218 million comprises $20 million in building improvements, $188 million in purchases of machinery and equipment, and $10 million to upgrade two product lines.
To assist, City Council approved a $6.9 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant, which represents 50 percent of the incremental increase in property taxes the project will generate.
It would be paid annually for 10 years after the expansion is completed and on the tax rolls. The agreement states the project must be completed by the end of 2017.
Also, the state would provide a $1.5 million Quick Action Closing Fund contribution and a $225,000 Quick Response Training grant.
Vistakon traces its start to the Frontier Contact Lens Co. that started in Buffalo, N.Y., in the 1950s before its move to Jacksonville. During the 1970s, it developed a new hydrogel material and Frontier began making soft contact lenses. In 1981, it was sold to Johnson & Johnson, which renamed it Vistakon.
In 1987, Vistakon launched Acuvue, the first seven-day extended wear disposable contact lens.
Johnson & Johnson Vision Products bought the Deerwood Park property in 1992 and began to develop it.
Production and products continued to evolve and today the company makes millions of lenses daily.
In the spring, Brown and Vistakon were featured when Gov. Rick Scott used the Vistakon property as the site to announce his manufacturing sales tax break legislation, and Brown attended Scott's "State of the State" address in Tallahassee to the Florida Legislature.
At a March JAXUSA Partnership event, Brown discussed the history and global reach of the company.
He said Acuvue is the No. 1 contact lens brand in the world and that the company also is an innovator in education. According to the JAX Chamber, Brown was recruited by Johnson & Johnson in 1990. In 2009, he was appointed president of the Americas group.
"In that year, the company faced flat sales as a result of the economic downturn in the U.S. Brown reorganized the company, reset priorities and created a culture where the $1 billion-plus company has exceeded growth expectations," said the chamber.
Brown told the chamber group that Johnson & Johnson Vision Care sells $3 billion of Acuvue brand contact lenses a year globally.
Its other manufacturing plant is in Limerick, Ireland.
The company website says that with global headquarters in Jacksonville, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care has about 3,400 employees in Japan, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Americas, and Latin America.
In July, a Daily Record column said New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson reported flat second-quarter sales for Vistakon, saying currency rates had a negative impact on its international sales.
Vistakon's second-quarter sales were $730 million, the same as the second quarter of 2012. On an operational basis — excluding the currency impact — sales rose by 5.4 percent.
Overall, Johnson & Johnson said its sales rose 8.5 percent to $17.9 billion but the sales gain would have been 10 percent without the currency impact.