Michael Mandina, president, and Richard Plympton, CEO of Optimax, have been named the 2019 recipients of the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology.

The award, in its 34th year, is given to entrepreneurial leaders in the greater Rochester region who have developed a business that has improved the local or regional economy or whose innovative management skills have changed the course of an existing business.

In addition, several RIT students, including Brandon Hudson, a fifth-year student in RIT’s School of Individualized Study, were also honored for their contributions to RIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Mandina, a 2003 graduate of RIT’s Executive MBA program, was one of the founders of Optimax, a precision optics manufacturer headquartered in Ontario, N.Y. The company, reportedly the largest prototype optics manufacturer in the United States, employs more than 350 people, with more than 300 being highly skilled technicians, engineers and scientists. Mandina, who is a master optician, has been active in many industry associations and organizations including Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, New York State Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, and High Tech of Rochester’s Manufacturers Extension Partnership, and was one of the founders of the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers Enterprise.

Plympton began his career at Optimax in 1995 managing the sales, marketing and quality assurance departments. He has also been actively involved in the regional optics industry and area colleges and sits on the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation Board, the Board of the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, is vice chair of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, and is participating in an Aspen Institute Fellowship for Job Quality.