– Story by Tess Van Straaten Photography by Don Denton
For Jason and Carrie Maycock, running Victoria’s oldest family-owned eye care business comes with a lot of responsibility — but the couple, who are passionate about eye care and eye wear, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It will be 70 years this year, which is pretty amazing,” says Dr. Jason Maycock. “My grandfather started the business in 1949 and we still have some of his patients who see us, which is pretty incredible.”
Jason and Carrie took the reins of the third-generation business in 2015 after his parents, Brian and Karen Maycock, officially retired. Jason, who’s an optometrist, worked with his parents for nine years before that, expanding services at Maycock Eyecare in 2006 to include eye exams — prompting the name change from Maycock Optical — after returning from school and residency work in the United States.
“Taking over the business, I think, was always in the back of my mind, and after I went to optometry school I was able to take the business and the history and the heritage and add another level to it,” the 41-year-old explains. “We were able to bring a whole new focus into the business.”
|Jason and Carrie Maycock|
Forty-year-old Carrie, who has a nursing background and is a licensed optician, worked with Karen for a full year before she retired, learning the ins and outs of running the business and making for an easy transition.
“They were very successful. We’ve just kind of taken that and we have our own spin on things, but that’s really our foundation,” Carrie says.
“Succession is not always easy but it was as smooth as it possibly could have been for us and my parents are still available for consultation,” adds Jason. “We ask them the odd thing but mainly they come in shopping for nice glasses.”
It was a very different story when Brian took over the business from his father and company founder, Ronald Maycock, back in 1971 under some very stressful circumstances.
“My dad was in accounting school when my grandfather had a really bad stroke and couldn’t maintain the business. So my dad decided to come back from Vancouver and take over, but he had absolutely no eye training whatsoever,” explains Jason. “Luckily, he was a smart accountant and that helped with the business aspect and he learned eyes on the go.”
For Jason, who never met his grandfather, hearing stories about him from their oldest patients is always a treat.
“He passed away when my dad was young so it’s neat to hear some of those stories of how business was done in the 50s and 60s,” he says. “[Clients] used to come to pick up their glasses and sometimes have a drink, have a scotch — a Mad Men sort of thing. It was definitely a different era.”
It’s not the only way Maycock Eyecare, which used to primarily sell glasses, has changed over the years. At one point, Jason’s parents had five locations, but he says it was always a challenge to get people as invested in the business as they were, so those locations were franchised and sold off. Now, with one large downtown location, they’ve expanded to include 10 staff members and two additional optometrists to meet growing demand.
“Our employees are essential to the business and some of them have been with Jason since he started his practice,” Carrie says. “Getting the right staff is critical and we really believe in education, which is why we take them to conferences where they’re exposed to the newest trends. It’s engaging and it gets them excited, and then they come back and pass that on to the clients.”
But by far, the biggest change over the decades has been the technological advances.
“When it comes to eye exams, it’s totally high-tech, and we have a real focus on technology,” he says. “Not only do we get an image of the eye, we ultrasound the eye and get into the layers of the retina to see disease like we’ve never been able to before. For things like macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Canada, anything we can do to detect it quicker and have a better outcome is important.”
“We pride ourselves on having the best diagnostics and equipment,” Carrie adds. “It can be expensive, but we feel it’s critical to patient care.”
Another thing critical to the Maycocks success was the purchase of their Blanshard Street location, which was taken down to the studs and totally renovated in 2010 to create the perfect space for both eye wear and eye care.
“Moving to this building was very beneficial for my parents and also for us because it’s set us up for the future and for success. It’s their legacy but it’s also their retirement package that we’re paying for,” laughs Jason. “It worked out well for everyone.”
The couple says they’re constantly looking at ways they can build on that success and make improvements.
“We’re both really self-reflective and analytical and I’m always evaluating things — I think it comes from my nursing background,” Carrie says. “I look at the whole picture and the base causes of things, so I’m always looking at how we’re doing and how we could do things better. That’s just part of my DNA.”
As they continue to grow the business, Jason says he knows how lucky they are to own a respected Victoria business, but he says his dad recently reminded him that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
“I was very lucky to have this to come back to and to build on it,” Jason says. “Over the last three years, we’ve been lucky, but we’ve tried to work hard to make that luck happen. We know how hard we work, we saw how hard they worked, and we couldn’t have got it to where it is now without that.”
Maycock Optical’s website is here.