Dr. Kent B McQuain OD
Optometrist celebrates 35 years of keeping patients in focus
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
Dr. Kent B. McQuain always had a clear vision for helping people. Even from an early age, he knew he wanted to be in healthcare in some capacity.
After meeting his wife, Lauren, in college at Indiana University, they decided optometry would be an ideal way for Kent to work in the healthcare field and to serve others—without the crazy hours of residencies and being on call night and weekends.
“We wanted to have a family one day,” he said. “I thought that optometry would allow me to have the best of both worlds. A career that I loved, but also the time for a normal family life.”
After graduation, the next decision the couple had to make was where to live and go into practice. They didn’t want to return home to Lauren’s hometown in New York or to Kent’s in Ohio, and they were up for a new adventure together.
“We literally picked this area cold from a map,” Kent recalled. “And the rest is history. We’ve been here ever since, in the same place that we started out in. We can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather be.”
The McQuains said they first fell in love with the beauty of the area and the proximity to the state’s beaches and mountains, big cities and rural towns.
“This area has it all,” said Lauren McQuain. “But best of all are the people! Our business is only successful because of our incredible, and very loyal, staff and customers.”
Several of the office staff have been with the company for more than 15 years.
“We love our team,” exclaimed Lauren. “Kacie has been with us for 17 years, Monica has been here almost 10 years, and Kelly, who recently retired, was with us for 19. Crystal and Brittany have also been great additions to our team. They all love our patients and offer a smile and a warm greeting, often by name, when folks walk in the door.”
“The compliments we get most often are about our staff,” said Kent. “They are the best, and people really love them! They are so friendly, and they treat our patients like family. We couldn’t ask for more.”
The business started with family in mind and has continued to intentionally weave that thread through every aspect over the years, from their patients to their staff to their family at home.
“Family is everything to us,” said Kent. “Lauren and I have always been in this together and we’ve always tried to treat those around us like we would our own family.”
In the early years, Lauren would teach during the day and then work in the office after school let out, buying frames and helping out where needed. Even after their daughter was born, Lauren did what she could to support the business from home. Now that Carley, 26, is grown and in the healthcare field herself, Lauren is back in the office. Kent said they live vicariously through Carley and her many work travels.
“We’re really into sports in our family,” Kent said. “Carley is a physical therapist and upper arm extremities specialist with the Toronto Bluejays. She’s in Florida right now, but she’s traveled to many other places during her fellowship, so we’ve tagged along a few times. Those trips and our time together are real highlights in my life.”
The McQuains also attribute their business success to the stability and continuity they offer their patients, along with their patient-focused approach. Dr. McQuain has treated many of his clients for several decades now, and even treats their children and grandchildren.
“It’s just so rewarding and fun to watch our patients grow up and have families of their own,” said Kent. “I think our customers appreciate seeing familiar faces when they walk in the door. We believe in putting people first, so we never rush our visits.”
“They know we are privately owned and reliable, which is hard to find these days,” Lauren said. “We have customers who now live out of the area, as far away as Virginia Beach and Richmond, who still return year after year to see us for their eye care.”
The friendly faces aren’t the only nod to stability. The business has been located in the same shopping center since it began in 1988.
After college, Kent worked for Dr. Bartley’s established optometry office in Williamsburg to learn the ropes. When the practice was sold a year later, he saw several co-workers strike out on their own, so he decided to follow suit.
"Lauren was teaching at Dare Elementary School at the time,” recalled Kent. “She loved York County and thought it would be a great place to start our own business, since we had a non-compete clause that didn’t allow us to open up a shop in the city of Williamsburg.”
“The shopping center was relatively new at the time, and they offered us a great lease deal,” remembered Lauren. “It ended up working really well for us, so we’ve just never left.”
The McQuains said that one thing they love most about running their business in York County is the sense of community support that they see day in and day out.
“We have so many customers that come in and say, ‘Just keeping it in the County,’ recalled Kent. “They love the buy-local sentiment that the County has promoted for many years. It truly keeps them coming back year after year to support our business.”
Although their location has remained the same, the business has still seen its fair share of changes over the years. One of its most significant improvements was the addition of an in-house lens lab, which is still being used today. The McQuains recalled that it was a big investment for them back then, but that it has paid for itself many times over since.
“We really had to do it in order to be able to compete with the one-hour lens crafter shops popping up around the area,” Lauren said. “It turned out to be a good move and is one reason we’re still around today.”
“We’re really proud to have made it through many tough times and still be in business after so many years,” Kent said. “Having an idea, making it work, and helping people every day is what makes me feel most fulfilled about our business. It is such a compliment, and my greatest pride, when our clients refer others to us.”
In their spare time—of which they now have a bit as empty nesters— Kent enjoys playing soccer and golf, and Lauren rides bikes and plays pickle ball. The couple has many hobbies in common too, such as vegetable gardening, attending sporting events and traveling to visit Carley.
Ever since the McQuains hung a banner announcing their 35th anniversary, their patients have been asking if they are retiring. “I keep reassuring folks that I don’t have any retirement plans yet,” Kent said. “
I love my work, my staff and my patients, so hopefully I can continue to serve them for many years to come.