“Spirit of innovation. There’s very little I can’t and a lot of I’ll try."


Jessica DeGroote Nelson
Director of Technology & Strategy
Optimax Leadership Team Optimax logo Jessica Nelson Jessica DeGroote Nelson
Director of Technology & Strategy

“Fun-loving CEO demands precision”


Jessica DeGroote Nelson
Director of Technology & Strategy
Optimax logo Rick Plympton Optimax Leadership Team Rick Plympton
CEO

At Optimax, our employees are the number one asset and are treated as such.

Optimax logo Jon Watson Optimax Leadership Team Jon Watson,
Coating & Assembly Manager

“I get to collaborate alongside a team that is passionate and determined to fulfill our mission and committed to having fun.”

Optimax logo Ale Mendoza human resource manager Optimax Leadership Team Ale’ Mendoza,
Human Resources Manager
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Optimax

Leadership Team

Chairman

Mike Mandina

Mike Mandina is a master optician and entrepreneur. After starting two manufacturing businesses providing precision optics to photonics companies, Mike joined Optimax in 1991.

He serves the local community and global industry through his guidance in organizations like the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, the NYS Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board and the High Tech of Rochester’s Manufacturers Extension Partnership. Mike was instrumental in the development of FAME (Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturer’s Enterprise), a non-profit organization committed to workforce development, where he currently serves as chairperson. He is also involved in steering the MCC Optics Department Advisory Board Hiring Committee, the WIRED: Finger Lakes Partnership Governing Board and the Rochester Regional Economic Council’s Photonics Work Group.

In addition, Mike has received numerous honors and awards over the years for his leadership and industry success, including finalist for Rochester’s Small business person of the year, NYS Business Hall of Fame inductee, Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster Entrepreneurship award and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) New York State Small Business Person of the Year award.

He holds associate degrees in optical engineering technology and engineering science from Monroe Community College and a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from Empire State College, as well as an Executive MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

CEO

Rick Plympton

Fun-loving CEO demands precision
Rick Plympton is the energy and drive behind Optimax. He began his career at Optimax in 1995 managing the sales and marketing activities as well as the QA department. Rick provides the leadership and vision needed to position Optimax as America’s largest prototype optics manufacturer.

Rick holds degrees in business administration, computer science and engineering science from Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award. He furthered his education at the University of Rochester with a Bachelor of Science degree in optics and an MBA.

In 2012 he received the Small Business Administration (SBA) New York State Small Business Person of the Year award. He also sits on the Board for the Optics and Electro-Optics Standards Council and the NY Photonics Board. 

Rick also works with colleges and universities to strengthen the optics workforce. He is currently on the FLCC Foundation Board, University of Rochester Hajim School of Engineering  Advisory Committee, and the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences Development Board.

Director of Technology and Strategy

Jessica DeGroote Nelson

“Spirit of innovation. There’s very little “I can’t” and a lot of “I’ll try” or “I can’t believe I did that”, which is absolutely fantastic.”

Joined Optimax: 2007

Role: Director of Technology and Strategy

Education: Jessica holds a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. in optics from University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics. Jessica also earned an MBA from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, while working full-time at Optimax. She is also currently an adjunct faculty at The Institute of Optics teaching an undergraduate and graduate course on Optical Fabrication Materials and Testing.

Experience: She started her career at Optimax after graduating from the University of Rochester. During the past ten years at Optimax, Jessica has not only expanded and improved the internal optical manufacturing processes, but has also won several Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards, funded by NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD), leading a team of researchers on these initiatives.

Associations/Leadership: Jessica is an active member and presenter with the Optical Society of America (OSA) SPIE, American Ceramic Society (ACerS) and the American Society of Precision Engineers (ASPE), and Optics and Electro Optics Standard Council (OEOSC), where she is currently the chair. She is also active in the local section of the Optical Society of America (OSA) – Rochester Section where she served as president and currently leads outreach activities.
Currently, she is also serving as an associate editor for SPIE’s Optical Engineering publication and an editor of SPIE’s Tutorial Text series. In addition, she is chair of several upcoming conferences including SPIE Optifab, OSA’s Optical Fabrication and Testing and OSA’s Freeform.

Director of Sales and Marketing

Joseph Spilman

Joined Optimax: 2014

Role: Director of Sales and Marketing

Education: Joe holds a bachelor’s, in optical engineering from the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Experience: Joe has more than 15 years of business development, program management and engineering experiences in the optics and photonics, and laser markets. Prior to joining Optimax, Joe worked at ArmorLine Corp, II-VI and Optimax

Manufacturing Manager, Prototype and Production

Josh Dennie

“Great people, great culture. That’s why I enjoy coming into work everyday.”

Joined Optimax: 2006

Role: Manufacturing Manager, Prototype and Production

Education:  Josh holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). In addition, Josh earned his MBA from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, while working full-time at Optimax.

Experience: Before joining Optimax, Josh worked at Walt Disney World, as an industrial engineer, and at General Mills in operations. During his time at Optimax, he has served in numerous roles ranging from production control to supply chain, before rising to the head of the manufacturing floor.

 

 

Manufacturing Manager, Laser Grade Optics

Mike Hyman

“Optimax allows people the opportunity to grow and chase what they are passionate about.”

Joined Optimax: 2004

Role: Manufacturing Manager, Laser Grade Optics

Education: Mike received his B.S. and M.S. from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Experience: Mike Hyman is the Laser Grade Optics Manager at Optimax Systems Inc, specializing in semiconductor lens manufacturing. At Optimax, Mike focusses on increasing productivity and utilization on precision optical components in key manufacturing areas. Throughout his fifteen-year tenure at Optimax, Mike apprenticed in every manufacturing area as well as different company support departments.

Coating Manager

Jon Watson

“At Optimax, our employees are the number one asset and are treated as such. It’s a small company culture in a fast-paced environment with new challenges each day.”

Joined Optimax: 2000

Role: Coating Manager

Education: Jon holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Rochester in optics.

Experience: Jon accepted a position at Optimax as a Thin Film Coating Engineer while finishing his degrees at University of Rochester.  Since joining Optimax, Jon has always held a leadership role for the coating team, and over the years has also been asked to lead other areas like Optical Assembly and Facilities/Maintenance.  His dedication to the team, love of the small company culture and fast paced environment have kept him here.

Association/Leadership: In his current role as Coating Manager, Jon oversees a department of more than 40 scientists, engineers, and technicians. He has also led coating facility expansions in 2013 and 2020.

Coating Engineer Manager

Peter Kupinski

Joined Optimax: 2011

Role: Coating Engineer Manager

Education: Pete holds a MS in Materials Science from Alfred University and a MBA from the Simon School at the University of Rochester.

Experience: Pete has been working in precision optics manufacturing since 2003. He has spent the majority of his time in optics as an engineer or engineering manager working on optical coatings for high energy laser applications.

Financial Controller

Tom Starin

“With consistent growth, there is no limit on the potential to learn.”

Joined Optimax:  2013

Role:   Financial Controller

Education:   Tom holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Meteorology from Penn State University (University Park Campus).  Additionally, Tom earned his MBA with concentrations in finance and accounting from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester.

Experience: Before joining Optimax, Tom supported the North American Finance group at Xerox for 8 years, working several roles as part of rotational program.   During his time at Optimax, he has as grown from Accountant to Accounting Manager and most recently to the role of Corporate Controller.

Director of Human Resources

Ale’ Mendoza

“I get to collaborate alongside a team that is passionate and determined to fulfill our mission and committed to having fun.”

Joined Optimax: 2006

Role: Director of Human Resources

Education: Ale’ holds an associate degree in physical studies from Monroe Community College (MCC), a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and a master’s degree in organizational learning and human resources development from St. John Fisher College.

Experience: Prior to joining Optimax, Ale’ spent eight plus years in the United States Air Force where he served as an enlisted member before becoming a commissioned officer and serving a variety of specialized roles.

Associations/Leadership: Ale’ works to collaborate and build local and national relationships with institutions, agencies, colleagues, and potential employees. He is currently a board member of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation. Ale’ also works with the local Veterans Outreach Center’s Veterans Employment Strategy Team (VEST), YMCA’s Human Resources committee, the Rochester Area Senior Human Resources Executive Forum, and the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers Enterprise (FAME). He is a member of both the Rochester Area Senior HR Executive forum and the Executive forum of Upstate New York.

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