An interview with Ken Lantz, Optician-Manager at IRIS Kelowna
Tell us about your studies and your career: What motivated you to study in this field? What was your journey like?
“I started in Optical back in 1976 in Yellowknife, North Western Territories. I travelled the Western Arctic with an eye tech supplying eyewear. After a few years, I transferred to Edmonton with Imperial Optical. In 1993 I had the opportunity to move to Kelowna, I started with London Optical on Feb 7th, 1994. Dr. Jean purchased the company in 2000. I was part of the furniture and that's how I became part of IRIS! It's been many many years, lots of good times, laughs and of course some sadness. Dr. Jean's passing was a sad time for sure. I still have some emails from him that I read from time to time. “
Photo: Ken Lantz when he started with London Optical in 1994
Do you have any particular habit or mannerisms that you are known for among your coworkers?
“They say I talk too much! And they say I have the gift of gab. Always smiling and happy for the most part. Very helpful. Good at making customers feel comfortable, great at solving any issue, and really good with Silhouette chassis, mounting and repairs, and adjustments.”
Do you have any career-defining moments?
“After Dr. Jean purchased IRIS, I wasn't sure about what that meant for us as employees. After meeting and listening to him talk about the company and what he expected, I was sold on IRIS. He treated me very well and we had many personal discussions. He Cared! He always asked about my Grandson. That's impressive to me. It was more than just work with Dr. Jean. The reason I'm still working for IRIS is to carry on what he started and left behind.”
Have you ever made a work-related mistake that you find funny in hindsight?
“While working in the North-Western Territories in the '70s, I sent glasses back to the settlements when they were completed. They went to the Nursing Stations to be delivered. Most of the seniors got 2 pairs, one for distance and one for near. One lady picked up her near pair and then jumped on her Ski-doo. She proceeded to run into a building. The nurse called us with the story. I guess we should've marked them better. We used translators most of the time, could've been a mix-up.”
What are your favourite hobbies?
“Golf is probably the only thing now for sports, sometimes tennis. I liked watching and coaching my Grandson in baseball, football and soccer. I watch most sports on TV and love to go to live sporting events, Hockey here in Kelowna, and we go to Edmonton once or twice a year to watch the Edmonton Oilers.”
If your family had to describe you in three words, what would they be?
“The 3 things my family would describe me as would be sociable, dependable and friendly. Another family said dedicated, thoughtful, loveable, kind and funny. I'll let you choose 3!”
Is there a phrase or expression you tend to repeat?
“When someone is leaving, I say "Be Good."
What advice would you like to give all patients?
“The same thing I've said for years, “Look after the health of your eyes. Wear proper sunglasses.” Then I explain why and what to look for. Wrap, Coatings and Polarized. It's a small investment that will pay off down the road.”
What do you like the most about your job and IRIS?
“The people I work with. The freedom I'm given to operate the store. The customers, good and bad. Some are a challenge and some are great. The one thing Dr. Jean always used to say was, "Not everyone is an IRIS customer". With IRIS I like the extra's, good benefits, pension plan and working conditions. The policies align with me. What's best for the customer needs to be front and center. I like the job that Dr. Clark, myself and the staff have done to represent IRIS and build the brand over the years.”
What else can you tell us about yourself?
“I played fastball growing up in Yellowknife and represented them 4 years in a row at the Canadian Championships. I continued to play for years after. I also played Hockey and tried out for the Kamloops Junior team in the WHL, The Chiefs. I didn't make it as a 16-year-old and went home. Never tried out again. I've coached flag football, baseball. These were all kids teams my grandson played on. Good to give back.’’