About WCE, LLC
WCE, LLC owns and operates optical retail locations under the name of Co-Op Optical. The stores, in addition to the manufacturing lab, benefit plan accounts and administrative capabilities, were originally part of Cooperative Optical Services, Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in 2012. On October 10, 2012, all assets of the defunct company were acquired by WCE, LLC from the US Bankruptcy court.
Robert Evangelista is Managing Member of WCE, LLC and is President of Co-Op Optical, running all day- to-day operations.
The rest of the story
For over 52 years, people throughout the Midwest have gone to Co-Op Optical locations for the vision health and eyewear needs. The company, Cooperative Optical Services, Inc. in its many forms, was originally created to serve union members as a true cooperative. A staple of the local industry, Co-Op Optical locations existed to service employees of companies through their benefit plans, retail stores and manufacturing capability.
Throughout these years, patients and customers knew they could rely on their local Co-Op Optical store to provide them with an honest deal - great Doctors, great product and fair prices. Additionally, the stores served Medicaid patients, believing that there was a duty to doing so.
After a tough decade - one which devastated much larger companies - Cooperative Optical Services Inc was struggling. In late 2011, the company transferred the administration of their insurance benefits to Davis Vision, thus ensuring that 140,000 insured members would not be affected by the company's financial hardship.
Many companies and customers gave up on them, leaving them for dead. In the summer of 2012, Cooperative Optical Services, Inc. was headed for bankruptcy. For a while, it appeared that Co-Op Optical would disappear. However, a group of 50 employees refused to give up. Together with a handful of active Board members, leadership of CWA Local 4000 and AFSCME Council 25, they kept the company alive long enough to find a solution.
In a story that reflects everything that embodies the spirit of Detroit and Michigan, people refused to quit.
Robert Evangelista, a nationally renowned business consultant, author and entrepreneur, spearheaded an effort to acquire the assets for the soon-to-be defunct company. He forged a plan and worked with union leadership, industry experts, company employees and Board members, to raise the phoenix from the ashes.
In October of 2012, WCE acquired the assets of the defunct company and began operations. The stores maintain the Co-Op Optical names, so that loyal customers would know where to find the best service.
In building the game plan for success, Evangelista declared a few things that might surprise people:
1) All employees working at the former company at the time of purchase would be hired to work for the new company.
2) He invited the Communications Workers of America to continue to represent the employees.
3) Wages would not be cut, and would remain at the level of the former company.
4) The company would always maintain its headquarters in the City of Detroit.
5) The company would operate the largest manufacturing lab in the City of Detroit, because "someone has to believe that Detroit still builds the best."
Since then, the NEW Co-Op Optical has made remarkable progress. Stores are now flush with gorgeous
new products, being delivered with the highest level of professional care. In a few short months, WCE
took dramatic steps to announce to the world that there is a NEW Co-Op Optical in town:
1) All stores have been stocked with 1,000 new frames. Shelves are now loaded with the latest designs from the Spring collections of national designer brands such as, Gucci, Harley Davidson, Guess, Ralph Lauren, Rampage, Candies, and many more.
2) All prices have been lowered so that customers will absolutely get the cheapest deal anywhere in SE Michigan. No coupons needed. The discount is in the price already.
3) Some of the best Doctors and Opticians have ran away from large competitors to join the NEW Co-Op Optical, creating a team of high-level, professional service.
4) The manufacturing lab has resumed operations, quickly becoming the largest eyeglass manufacturing lab in the City of Detroit.
This is the beginning of the story of the NEW Co-Op Optical. It is a story of refusing to give up. Never quitting. Believing in yourself. And not allowing others to define you.
It's a story you'll hear more about in the years to come!