Business Buzz – June 2019

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Eng Family Optometry Honored
    The City of Oakland celebrated five family-owned legacy businesses at a reception in City Hall on May 6 during National Small Business Week. These businesses are described as having persevered and their owners being leaders in their industry and contributing positively to the community.

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
From L-R: Dr. Kristine Eng, Dr. Weylin Eng (retired) and Dr. Kelly Shintani show off the latest selection of sunglasses at their optometry practice on Orinda Way.

    Among them was Lake Merritt Optometry, which has been in business more than 50 years and has ties to Orinda. It was founded by Dr. Raymond L. Eng, O.D. in 1934. He was the first Chinese American to be elected to a major city office because he served on the Oakland City Council for 16 years. His son, Dr. Weylin G. Eng, O.D., recalls, “My dad told us always to give back to the community.”
    Weylin Eng graduated from UC Berkeley in 1965 and joined his father’s practice in 1967. In 1985 he founded Orinda Optometry Group (Orinda Optometry), the same year Orinda became a city. In 1987 Weylin took a full-time faculty position at UC Berkeley School of Optometry where he was director of the clinics.
    Weylin Eng’s daughter, Dr. Kristine Eng, O.D., and her business partner at Orinda Optometry, Dr. Kelly Shintani, O.D., both graduated from UC Berkeley; the former in 1998, the latter in 2000. Shintani joined the practice when Kristine Eng had her first child. In addition to the two doctors there are six employees who are certified by the American Board of Opticianry.
    Lake Merritt Optometry is still in the family as it was owned by Weylin’s niece, Dr. Colleen Tashiro. When Tashiro retired, Dr. Serine Ngin, O.D., her niece, took over that office. The Eng family has been in the Bay Area so long they have three-plus generations of patients.
    When people asked Weylin why he worked so hard he replied, “I had four daughters to send to college!”
    Weylin Eng and his family have lived in Orinda for 45 years and are active members of the community. Whether it is Weylin’s Orinda Rotary activities, One Warm Coat project, Miramonte High School speaking night, Meals on Wheels, or Kristine Eng’s recent Orinda Action Day at Sleepy Hollow, giving back seems to come easily. It’s plain to see that the founding father’s practice to ‘always give back’ is in full force today.
    The practice has a large inventory of eyewear and contact lenses. Often they receive soft release contact lenses from companies before anyone else and are a beta-site for contact lenses for FDA use projects. Their recently remodeled showroom is bright and modern.
    Both Shintani and Kristine Eng are certified to treat glaucoma, infections and pink and red eye. They can prescribe eye drops for allergies and inflammations. About 80 percent of their practice is eye exams, fitting eyewear and contacts; 20 percent is medical optometry.
    Their state-of-the art equipment includes an optical coherence tomographer or OCT which makes it unnecessary to anesthetize the eyes to measure pressure on the eyeball. This is an important factor in testing for glaucoma. The doctors are active members of the Alameda, Contra Costa Counties Optometric Society. Each has served as president of the group beginning with Raymond in 1947, Weylin in 1977, Kristine in 2001 and Shintani in 2004.
    The Orinda Optometry Group is at 20 Orinda Way, Orinda. Call 925-253-1320 or go to https://orindaoptometrygroup.com for hours and more information.

(Elana O'Loskey, Photographer)
Loan consultant, and Miramonte alumnus, Jim McGill recently joined Land Home Financial in Orinda’s Theatre Square.

Jim McGill Joins Land Home Financial
    Jim McGill recently joined Land Home Financial (Land Home) as a loan consultant. The idea of living and working in the same community, he says, is special to him. He has been in the industry for 29 years with his first 18 years at World Savings. A multi-year President’s Club member, McGill has closed more than 3,000 loans in his career.
    McGill says he joined Land Home because the mix they offer has a lot of creative solutions to fit the needs of most any type of prospective or current home owner. They offer different kinds of loans on single-family homes, condos, townhomes, manufactured homes and land with construction to permanent financing.
    One example is an equity share program which gives the homeowner 17.5 percent of their equity — so it’s not a reverse mortgage. At the end of 30 years, the homeowner or heirs pay back the money the homeowner was given from the home, plus share in the equity increase going forward from the date of the disbursement, but not prior to that.
    For instance, if someone owns a $2 million home they are given 17.5 percent of that. They receive $350,000 which they can save to pay for taxes and insurance if they don’t have a loan on it. Or they can pay off a loan so they have no housing expense for the rest of their life.
    Down payment assistance programs allow people to get into homes for as little as 1 percent down. Land Home also offers equity share programs where clients can get into homes with less expense and less money. Risks can be shared by an investment company in case property values go down. The money provided up-front requires no interest and no payments so it makes home ownership much more affordable. It also allows buyers to bypass the expense of PMI — private mortgage insurance.
    McGill says that many young people are daunted by real estate costs. He insists that if you have a plan, and stick to it, you can beat the way things are set up. You may have to live a bit away from your ideal location to get your foot in the real estate market to build equity. That equity can translate to the ability to buy where you want to live long term, five to 10 years down the road. Patience is required, but he says it works. His motto is: “There is no better investment in the land than real estate.”
    A Miramonte grad who grew up in Moraga, McGill played football, ran track and was in high school musicals. At UC Berkeley he studied business and was always interested in real estate and being able to help people plan for their future, he says. He places real estate at the center of those plans because he believes it is the best way to build capital through equity build 
up.
    He and his wife, Susan, an eighth-grade core teacher at Orinda Intermediate School, have three children. Paige, Ryan and Drew are 21, 19 and 17 and all went to Campolindo. Jim McGill volunteers with Moraga Valley Youth Group – senior high – and is known for leading a team on yearly home building trips to Tijuana, Mexico for the past 15 years.
    When not working, McGill is closing in on visiting every national park in the country with just five to go. He’s also visited 25 national parks from countries as diverse as Cuba, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania.
    Land Home is sponsoring a float in the Orinda Fourth of July parade as well as a banner in town and contributes to other community activities throughout the year. Stop by to meet McGill at Land Home Financial, 2 Theatre Square, #146, Orinda, email him at jim.mcgill@lhfs.com or give him a call at 925-297-7132. His website is https://mortgage.lhfs.com/jimmcgill.

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