GREEN BAY, Wis. — Kathie Doescher has looked into a lot of eyes during her career at Shopko Optical.
A certified optician, she gets a charge out of helping other people.
“My most favorite moment of all is typically kids. When a young person comes in and they’ve never had glasses before and you have them put the glasses on and have them turn and look at the world and that jaw-dropping, mouth-open, ‘Mom, I can see this. Mom, I can see that. Dad, look at this,’” she said. “It’s so awesome, and makes it all worthwhile.”
With 92 locations in Wisconsin and across the country, Shopko Optical continues to grow. It opened 11 stores in the last year, including a second location in Fond du Lac earlier this month.
Shopko Optical CEO Russ Steinhorst said plans call for further growth across its markets in the midwest and western United States.
“We expect to open close to 60 locations this year, which will bring our total in Wisconsin alone to 50 locations by spring of this year,” he said.
The company has more than 600 employees in the state, from manufacturing and headquarters operations to optical centers. It will likely add 500 jobs company wide this year, with between 75 and 100 of those in Wisconsin, Steinhorst said.
Many of the jobs blend medicine with fashion and customer service.
“We hire the personality, we can train the skill,” said Kirk Lauterback, the company’s chief operations officer. “We want people who are outgoing and customer service focused. From there we can teach them the technical aspects of optical.”
A long-time employee, he is proud of what employees do everyday.
“We help people see better. At the end of the day, that’s pretty valuable,” he said. “We might see a small child who comes in here to get an exam to get glasses. We might be helping that child ultimately get better grades in school because they have the proper eyewear. We might have a kid come in who is safer when they play sports. We may have a truck driver that it’s safer when they drive down the road.”
Doescher shares that pride.
“It becomes a part of you,” she said. “Like you’re part of the family.”
Open positions at Shopko Optical can be found here.