An Eyewear Company, a College, and 25,000 Facemasks

Alessandro Lanaro

Alessandro Lanaro P’22 has given his time, wisdom, and expertise to Babson students, faculty, and staff. Now, in a time of need, he has provided a much-needed helping hand.

The Babson parent and his family donated 25,000 facemasks to the College—an invaluable in-kind show of support during these unprecedented times.

It’s an action born out of a true “entrepreneurial spirit,” he says, that also helped pivot his company this spring.

Realize, Act, and Do

As founder and CEO of MODO Eyewear, Lanaro faced an unenviable but obvious choice for an entrepreneurial leader like himself. With the pandemic wreaking havoc on industry, he could sit back and watch his distributors continue to shutter their doors, or he could take action on the social and economic opportunity at hand. Lanaro acted.

“We’ve been an eyewear company since 1991. Now,” he said, enthusiastically, “we’re also selling PPE materials.”

MODO, known in the eyewear industry to be a driving force in social responsibility, produces frames with recycled or natural material, plants trees for every pair sold, and helps children around the world receive free and sight-saving eye care through a key partnership with the Seva Foundation.

This March, when faced with a lineup of consumers in need of reliable safety equipment, Lanaro pivoted company efforts and secured a new, leading role for MODO in the industry.

One of the first eyewear companies to redirect key manufacturing and focus on personal protective equipment (PPE), MODO quickly provided its customers with the volume of protective resources they would need to reaccelerate business and safely serve those seeking eyewear services.

And, because the shift has proved successful, Lanaro and his family have been able to donate an incredible amount of new inventory to organizations facing similar challenges.

“The world needs entrepreneurial leaders more than ever. The crisis has shown us that,” said President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD. “Community members like Alessandro and his family are the epitome of just that—those who don’t just think, but do. We’re grateful for their generous, entrepreneurial, and much-needed in-kind support, and for all the ways in which they contribute to Babson.”

The Value of In-Kind Support

With entrepreneurial drive, it’s possible to pivot successfully—even under pressure. “For us, it worked out well,” Lanaro said, “and to a point where it will possibly turn into a line of business we can continue.

“To be able to offer this help is particularly rewarding,” he added. “Knowing the times we’re living in, and the monumental challenges institutions are facing … it makes us very happy to make just a little bit of difference.”

No stranger to offering up support in unique and invaluable ways, Lanaro also collaborated with Executive Director of The Lewis Institute Cheryl Kiser in her MBA course, Leading for Social Value. By taking part in an experiential learning opportunity, he allowed students the chance to pitch real-time solutions to existing corporate challenges.

“It was so fun to meet with these bright MBA students,” Lanaro said. “And, looking back, I got a lot of value out of that exercise myself. There were very interesting solutions to the challenge I proposed, and it was nice to see their point of view.”

He also has served as a guest speaker alongside Professor Lidija Polutnik.

Posted in Community, Entrepreneurial Leadership

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