The year was 1992. An otherwise unremarkable summer fishing trip would set the course for what would become Precision Optical Group, Inc. for high school classmates Mike Tamerius and Matt Somers.
Mike had just moved his young family back to their hometown, where his love of all things optical had begun several years earlier while cleaning the offices of Creston Vision Clinic. Matt had just graduated from college, was working on his master’s degree, and was about to be married. The two concocted a plan, and on a hunch and a handshake, Precision Optical Group was launched.
So what were the odds of two 23-year olds with no formal business training and no financial backing growing a top optical laboratory from the ground up in their hometown of Creston, Iowa? Almost nil. Fortunately, neither realized it at the time.
Mike remembers their initial goals as modest. "We just wanted to feed our families. Since I’d quit my day job and Matt had never had one, you could say we had a lot riding on this little venture. We were frugal out of necessity, and that conservative attitude set the course for what would become a booming business."
Even during the formative years of P.O.G. Labs, Mike seemed to need an outlet for his excess energy. He found it by spending a decade serving the citizens of Creston, first as council member and then as mayor. These days, much of his free time is spent outdoors, enjoying the physical labor of his small farming operation and the occasional game of golf. He and wife Traci keep up with son Alex’s year around school sports and 4-H activities and have watched as daughter Jessica’s dance classes turned into college classes and now she teaches elementary students. Family ties are important at P.O.G. Mike’s sister Deb is the purchasing manager of the company, while sister Carlene works in in the sales department. Both are longterm employees and passionate about the business. Father Don checks in regularly on the trio.
Every day is a new opportunity and challenge. "I just get up, go to work and try to improve one thing, whether it’s an approach to people or a process. Some people are looking for a routine and want to hone a specific skill; others have a deep desire to do something different every day, and when it comes to our employees, we really need both types. I love that I get to work with so many interesting people."
The ‘little lab that could’ has come full-circle from its modest beginnings, becoming a major employer in this rural community in southwest Iowa, where motorists wave and a great work ethic is the norm. Mike continues to run the business to this day, and has many plans for its continued growth. The future is bright for P.O.G. Labs, Inc.