BRADENTON - The company that made Elvis Presley's gold sunglasses (not to mention frames worn by Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth II) has stealthily moved its U.S. distribution headquarters to Bradenton.
High-end frames maker Neostyle, a 48-year-old German company with about $40 million in annual sales, also is launching direct-to-market distribution for the first time in more than 30 years.
The company had previously used a distributor in California for its U.S. operations.
Neostyle USA, which is occupying about 1,000 square feet in the Bank of America building in downtown Bradenton, makes its frames in Italy and Germany.
"We wanted to be in Florida for the lifestyle," said Bob Lawson, president of Neostyle USA, in a statement on Monday.
The Manatee Economic Development Council, he said, "helped us make a painless move to Bradenton. We have a small footprint here now, but our team will grow as we take over U.S. sales and distribution for ourselves."
Nancy Engel, executive director of the EDC, said she was pleased by the move.
"Neostyle is a widely recognized, quality brand in the optical industry," Engel said. "We are excited about the company's plans for its Manatee County location and look forward to assisting with Neostyle's expansion."
Neostyle's target market ranges from "a boutique on St. Armands Circle to the optical departments in Macy's department stores."
The frames range in retail price from $200 to $600, and can be browsed in an online catalog at www.neostyle.de Neostyle makes its frames from materials that include gold, platinum and diamonds.
"It is not unusual for Neostyle to create family heirloom frames," Lawson said. "Our products are made in the same locales where Mercedes and Porsche automobiles are designed and manufactured. Our brand reflects that same quality."
2008/03/18 Sarasota Herald Tribune / www.epgold.com