Pioneer International Celebrates
It’s 10th Anniversary by “Making Strides”
August 10, 2009 – Pioneer International, an industry leader in the distribution of ophthalmic products to the student market, celebrates its tenth year in business by giving back. Valerie Nicola, CEO and owner of Pioneer, has officially chosen The American Cancer Society’s - Making Strides in Breast Cancer as recipient of the anniversary event. The "Making Strides" campaign, in association with Volk Optical Inc., a highly respected ophthalmic lens manufacturer, features a special selection of pink rimmed lenses exclusively manufactured for Pioneer. Each purchase will result in a $30 donation to breast cancer research.
Volk, one of Pioneer's leading manufacturers has played a very important role leading up to this ten year event. John Strobel, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Volk, explains how distributing their brand through Pioneer has helped their company effectively reach this market of future doctors. "One of the biggest benefits of having Pioneer represent our line to student/residents is their ability to explain the importance of quality and to educate them on the use of our products. Pioneer’s personal approach, combined with the use of cutting edge technology such as their newly designed website, has helped them to develop strong customer relationships in this very unique market. We have been with Pioneer since they started and our experience with their support of the students has been excellent. They do all that they can to insure that the presentation, delivery and after sales support of our brand goes smoothly for our newest customers”
Pioneer’s journey began in 1999 combining manufacturer contacts, established customer confidence and the mind of a highly motivated entrepreneur. “Working in the industry with the student market since 1989, developing programs and relationships, gave me a very unique perspective of that particular market and their needs.” Nicola stated. In addition to major manufacturers, Nicola was able to bring a healthy list of smaller suppliers with whom she had maintained a relationship, “Aside from industry contacts, Pioneer was primarily built upon a foundation of established customers who had faith based upon the job I had done for them in the past. The company’s growth was the result of maintaining the confidence of those relationships through every aspect of customer service.”
For ten years Pioneer International has stayed true to its name by blazing a new trail directly to what Nicola considered to be her primary market. It was that drive along with an unparalleled reputation for customer service that eventually gained Pioneer approximately 80% of the student market.
Ben Uhl, a 2008 graduate from the University of Houston, puts a finer point on this from his own experience. "Pioneer's service is impeccable. No one else can touch it. From the initial order, to the delivery, to setting up service days for any repairs, everything flows perfectly. I've dealt with several other companies and have always come back to Pioneer. Another way they make us feel important is how they customize everything for our school, putting the school's seal on products we purchase. We're introduced to all these brands while we're still in school and we would like to enjoy as well as benefit from the experience of working with the company who supports them. Pioneer has proven to be that company."
Pioneer's new website, featuring the latest in web technology, has a section specifically dedicated to the student/resident market. It contains a group of micro sites designed to address the unique needs of each school.
Tony Van Alstine, Class of 2011, Indiana University, has found internet convenience, trust and timely response to be the key components in working with Pioneer. "My experience with Pioneer has been very professional and responsive every step of the way. They are everything you could want in customer service. Their website is incredibly user-friendly and customized specifically to each school. They are truly people of their word. When we were told that if anything ever breaks to call us right away and we'll take care of it immediately, they did. Pioneer has our full confidence."
Working with bookstore managers is yet another important approach to addressing this market. Deb Woods, bookstore manager at SCCO, explains the importance of a distributor who effectively gets the job done. "Pioneer bends over backwards to make sure that all goes well. My experience with their customer service is way beyond anything I've ever experienced with any other company in my nine years in this business. They're always on time with everything flowing smoothly. They have essentially cut my work load in half."
Research author Diana Shechtman, OD FAAO, has lectured on a national level and also serves on the Faculty/Editorial Board of Review of Optometry. Dr Shechtman, a former faculty equipment liaison at Florida's Nova College of Optometry, had this to say regarding Pioneer's commitment to customer service including product education, personal attention and fulfillment. "My experience with Pioneer was absolutely wonderful. If there were any issues at all, which were usually small, they were taken care of immediately. They also came in before the new students started class to introduce them to the products they'd be using, guided them on what they would need for their classes and show them what those products would be used for. They coordinated all the logistics from sales to delivery within a very efficient time frame. Pioneer greatly appreciates what we do and understands the time that it takes."
Pioneer represents the best ophthalmic brands in the industry. These well-established manufacturers understand and appreciate the importance of reaching a niche market of young ophthalmic students prior to their career as doctors.
Mike Mulligan, Ophthalmic Sales Manager for Welch Allyn, describes his experience working with Pioneer this way, "It is absolutely my pleasure working with Pioneer. The amount of professionalism, enthusiasm, and hard work put towards the Optometry School Market is unmatched in the industry. In addition, their level of support and service at each school is exemplary, both with the students, and the faculty. The name "Pioneer" for their organization is truly fitting, as that is exactly what they are in this market, Pioneers."
Christian Berling, National Sales Manager, Specialty Division- HEINE North America, speaks of the importance of customer service relative to the presentation, delivery and support of their brand. “The foundation of HEINE’s business philosophy is selling our products through distribution. It is also our strategy to partner with distributors who share our same dedication to service and support. We feel our products are of the highest quality, and we choose distribution partners who also provide the highest levels of value to their customers. In that regard, our experience with Pioneer has been second to none. Their commitment to their customers is their number 1 priority, and their professionalism makes us honored to have them represent our instruments."
"The student / resident market is one of the most important markets in the US for HEINE. We see this market as an investment in our future growth in the US. Therefore it is crucial that students / residents receive the highest levels of service and support when they invest in HEINE products. Having a dealer such as Pioneer, who focuses solely on the needs of this market, has been a tremendous advantage for us.
Unmatched customer service, a highly motivated young company and a commitment to quality and education, has given Pioneer International something to celebrate. Valerie Nicola has decided that the best way to do this is by giving back.“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time they reach eighty-five. Pioneer is the only ophthalmic equipment distributor in the industry with a female CEO whose company addresses a student market which is approximately seventy percent female.” Given that statement, and the relevance of this health issue, it is only fitting that Valerie Nicola would choose to support The American Cancer Society’s - Making Strides in Breast Cancer to mark Pioneer’s tenth year in business. “Researchers in the fight against cancer are the true pioneers. The combined contributions of Pioneer, Volk and our customers represent a united effort towards new discoveries, and a better understanding of cancer and its treatment.” – Valerie Nicola, CEO, Pioneer International
The “Making Strides” promotion is available to the entire ophthalmic market through Pioneer International.
For more information call:
Larry Juricic @ 888.206.5380