Jan. 11--X-Cel Optical, a Sauk Rapids-based lens manufacturer, has been sold to Essilor, a large French optical company with U.S. headquarters in Dallas.
A purchase price was not disclosed. X-Cel CEO Joe Doescher and CFO Wayne Gottwalt will retain a 20 percent stake in the company, which had been privately held by members of Doescher's family and management since 1983. Doescher and Gottwalt will remain in their current roles, along with other members of the local management team, according to an email from Doescher.
According to Essilor, X-Cel generates $33 million in annual sales. One of a declining number of U.S. lens companies continuing to manufacture lenses domestically, X-Cel dates to 1937 when it was founded by Elmer Voss and Vincent Condon in Detroit and turned out six pairs of lenses a day. Production moved to California in 1945. A year later, Voss and Condon returned to where they had grown up in Central Minnesota -- settling in Sauk Rapids.
X-Cel Optical was in the basement of the Sauk Rapids Movie Theater in downtown Sauk Rapids until a fire destroyed the building in 1957. That prompted the first stages of the plant at 806 South Benton Drive that is still used today.
The company, which occupies 70,000 square feet of space in Sauk Rapids, specializes in fused lens production and plastic lens mold making. It stocks about 250,000 pairs of semi-finished lens blanks. More than 40,000 lens sizes, styles, and colors are kept in inventory for immediate shipment. X-Cel serves more than 1,500 customers.
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