Johnson & Johnson Vision launched a $200 million expansion project this year of its Jacksonville contact lens facility that should take care of its needs for the next three or four years, said Peter Menziuso, company group chairman in charge of the vision care division.
But that likely won’t be the last time Johnson & Johnson expands its plant at 7500 Centurion Parkway in Deerwood Park, Menziuso said after speaking at JAXUSA Partnership’s quarterly luncheon Nov. 30.
“We are continuously expanding,” he said.
New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson came to Jacksonville in 1981 by acquiring Frontier Contact Lenses and has been expanding ever since, Menziuso said in his talk at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.
Frontier had 150 employees working at its San Marco facility and Johnson & Johnson has grown to 3,500 workers in Jacksonville, he said. That even includes some of the original Frontier employees.
“It’s fun to listen to their stories,” Menziuso said.
Johnson & Johnson has been the market leader in contact lenses but it began expanding its vision business in 2016 by acquiring companies that make products for cataract surgery.
Although the products are made outside of Jacksonville, Menziuso said the surgery products are helping the contact lens business by bringing more vision expertise to the company.
“It helps us expand our focus on eye health,” he said.
Menziuso said 2.2 billion people globally are vision impaired and not all of them have access to the eye care they need. By 2020, about half the world population is projected to have myopia, or nearsightedness, he said.
Meanwhile, “health care professionals to serve that community are on the decline,” he said.
Johnson & Johnson has launched programs to address vision care needs, including a “Sight for Kids” program that provides eye exams to children.
Menziuso said Johnson & Johnson Vision also is working on innovations with its contact lenses to treat evolving eye conditions. For example, the company launched a product in September called the Acuvue Oasys Max 1-day Multifocal lens for presbyopia, or farsightedness.
That lens is designed to help people with dry and tired eyes from looking at their digital devices for much of the day.
Besides improving eye health, Johnson & Johnson also is working on initiatives to use renewable energy, announcing a program last year to power its Jacksonville plant with solar and wind energy.
“Every lens that is made in Jacksonville is produced by sustainable energy,” Menziuso said.
Besides being one of Jacksonville’s largest employers, it is also one of the city’s largest companies in terms of revenue.
Johnson & Johnson Vision’s revenue rose 11% in the first nine months of this year, excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates, to $3.7 billion.
The contact lens side of the business accounted for $2.7 billion in sales.
“We’re viewed as a growth company” within Johnson & Johnson, Menziuso said.
He said the company is likely to again expand its Deerwood Park facility, which has almost 69 acres of land.
“We feel confident we’ve got the space we need to grow,” he said.