February 20, 2007 - Posted at 5:12 p.m. CST
INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR -- As part of our continuing coverage of our community spotlight on Independence County...we're taking a look at some of the industries in that part of Region 8.
La Croix Optical is a company that has been part of the Batesville landscape since the bicentennial year of 1976.
You may not know exactly what they make, but you've might have seen through what Batesville company La Croix Optical manufactures.
"One of our customers is National Geographic and we actually make the lenses that go on the front of the critter cam. Which is the specialized camera that national geographic puts on the back of different animals like killer whales and seals," said sales engineer Kirk Warden.
The company has also gained a larger percentage of defense customers in the last few years...some of their lenses help military aircraft to detect incoming surface to air missile threats.
"La Croix Optical manufactures precision optical components for other manufacturers. We do not have a product that we sell to the public. Our lenses are used in medical instruments, scientific instruments, military devices, industrial equipment," said president Ray La Croix.
La Croix Optical originally began in Chicago in 1947...the company started a branch in Batesville when two employees wanted to move closer to their Arkansas home...and a decade later the natural state became their new headquarters.
Today they produce 750,000 elements a year and employee 115 people.
"The employees here are from Arkansas are very dedicated and we have an average tenure of 10 years for most of our employees," said Warden.
"We cannot say enough good things about the labor force here in Batesville. The employees are very loyal, they are very hard working. They are very friendly, we've had a very good experience with the labor here in Batesville, they are really the secret to our success," said La Croix.
It takes about two hours to make each side of a lens and most of the departments at La Croix work two shifts.