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Leadership Team


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.


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.


Joseph Spilman

Joined Optimax: 2014

Role: President

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 worked in the optics and photonics industry for nearly 20 years across a wide variety of roles, application spaces, companies, and geographies. Prior to joining Optimax, Joe was a member of the executive team at ArmorLine Corp. and II-VI and in industrial laser and defense.

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 in 2006, 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 manufacturing with a focus on prototype and production.



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: He holds a bachelor’s in Manufacturing Engineering Technology and master’s in Mechanical Manufacturing Systems Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

Experience: Mike Hyman began his career at Optimax in 2004 as a high school intern. He has had many roles during his more than fifteen years at Optimax including an Optician in all manufacturing departments, a Manufacturing Metrology Engineer, and then rising to group leader and Manufacturing Manager. There are not many roles he has not taken on.

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 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in optics from the Institute of Optics at University of Rochester.

Experience: Jon accepted a position at Optimax as a Thin Film Coating Engineer while finishing his degrees at University of Rochester. He has been a part of the Optimax team for more than 20 years and believes that at Optimax, employees are the number one asset. He regularly brings new ideas into Optimax as a small company culture in a fast-paced environment, and enjoys guiding his team through new challenges each day.

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 and has been with Optimax since 2011. The majority of his time in optics has been as an engineer or engineering manager working on optical coatings for high energy laser operations.

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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