15 Minutes: Seeing clearly pays off
Tom Deputy, 58, is the owner of Reflection Eyewear, but he wears many other hats. He plays in a blues band at Whiskey Dick’s Saloon, owns a horse boarding ranch, a real estate business and a vending business.
Q: How long have you been in Tahoe?
A: I started in business here in 1976.
Q: What is this profession?
A: I’m an optician; we fill prescriptions and dispense.
My son Wes and I run the shop. I used to bring him in here after he was born. I set him on the bench with a bottle and baby sat him. Now he helps me run the place.
Q: What’s the best way to pick a pair of glasses?
A: It’s called lifestyling. It’s about helping people get what they want, rather than trying to sell them something they don’t need. We can use our experience to lifestyle that individual and advise them on what type of lenses would be best.
Q: What do people not know about you?
A: I’m a musician. I’m a blues and rock ‘n’ roll player. I started taking piano lessons when I was 6 years old. Right now we are playing at Whiskey Dick’s on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. It’s worked out well. We have 15 to 20 musicians show up at various times of the night. We are running across some pretty fine talent.
Q: Is it a jam session?
A: It’s an invited jam. And we are looking for players who sing well.
I played in a band for 13 years. When I had the hearing problems, I had to quit.
Q: Do you have your hearing back?
A: Yeah, I got it back.
A: I had a benign brain tumor I wound up with. I was getting headaches and I was losing my hearing. It’s called a meningioma and it was pressing on the No. 4 cranium nerve and giving me extreme headaches.
If you have headaches that wake you up, there’s probably more to it than stressing out. If you are stressing out, you have a headache during the day, but it doesn’t wake you up at night.
We pursued it with CAT scans and I wound up at Stanford.
It was 6 centimeters long and was moving my brain stem over an inch and a half. It gave me double vision, so I did a custom bi-focal design for myself. We call them occupational bifocals.
Q: How are you involved in the community?
A: Through the years I’ve been through a lot of organizations. I’ve set up with Lions to make glasses for children who can’t afford them. There’s a referral procedure, usually through the school nurse.
Q: Were you scared when you got the brain tumor?
A: I didn’t have any revelations about it. It was more about the people around me. It makes you aware your life is not just about you. I have a loving, caring family that helps each other.
Q: What’s kept you here in Tahoe?
A: I have a horse-ranch in Minden. My daughter’s a horsetrader down there. I still have my established business up here. We have fast service, while you wait, so it does pretty well.
Q: Do you have a boarding business?
A: Yeah, it’s called Dread Knot Equine.
I run about five businesses. I have other hats. When I’m in here, I’m an optician. I’ve networked with Quickstar, a shipping site. The benefit of working with Quickstar, it wasn’t just about money; they teach success (strategies). It does change your ability to drive income. You become more focused. It’s finding out what people want and helping them get it.
I also have a real estate company and a vending company.
Q: Do you have a philosophy?
A: It’s not my own: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
When you talk to people and you see them stress out over this and that, you realize some things really aren’t all that important.
Q: Is there something cool about enabling people to see?
A: Oh, yeah; when I was 6 and that eye doctor put on my first pair of glasses, it was a miracle to me. It was magic. I remember at six years old saying I want to do that, I want to help people see.
When I met my wife to be, I told her that story. And she knew someone who taught this stuff. When I graduated, he gave me my first business. And he said you can work that business off.
I worked seven day a week for 10 hours a day. And I married my wife and she tricked me into moving to Lake Tahoe. She said, “I found this place called Lake Tahoe and I want to move there.” What she was trying to do is get me out of this rut. So I told her to go out there, get a job and buy house.
She called three months later and said: “It’s done, pack it.”
The house was $33,000 and I was scared to death of that debt.
I’ve been here ever since.
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