Interview with Gary Manche, Ocean Optics

Nov 7, 2011

At the LEDs 2011 conference and exhibition LEDs Review has received an opportunity for an exclusive interview with Gary Manche, North America Distributor Manager at Ocean Optics. 

Gary Manche joined Ocean Optics in April of 1998 and has served as an Application Sales Engineer, Global Distribution Sales Manager, Marketing assistant and Tradeshow Coordinator, and Director of Training. He was recently promoted to be the Distributor Manager for North America.

Prior Work experience:

Medical Sales for EEG Spike and Seizure systems (NeuroConcepts Inc.) 19951998 

Medical Sales for Cardiopulmonary Diagnostic systems (SensorMedics  Corporation ) 19821994

Cardiopulmonary Technologist  from 19761981 

Ocean Optics had a very busy exhibition spot at the LEDs 2011 that looked more like a non-stop workshop than a typical exhibition booth.  There have been instruments working and scrap papers full of schemes and notes, and people coming in not just out of curiosity, but rather with a predetermination to talk to the experts and get their problems solved.  We have truly appreciated the time Gary Manche was able to spend answering our questions and telling us about Ocean Optics.

LEDs Review: Could you please tell us and our readers about Ocean Optics. How did the company begin and what makes it special?

Gary Manche:  The company was founded by University of South Florida professor Michael Morris and University of Central Florida professor Roy Walters in 1989. The very first miniature fiberoptic spectrometer developed by Mike and Roy was designed for the purpose of measuring water pH at the depth of the ocean floor. It had an optical fiber 200 meters in length. Light from a portable lamp sent light down the fiber and the reflected color from the pH sensitive film at the other end was sent back to the spectrometer which provided the acid-base measurement. The experiment was to determine if the pH at the ocean depth was getting more acidic over time. Lower pH indicates high carbon dioxide concentration, (a sign of global warming). It was this first project that gave the company its name - “Ocean Optics”

When I joined the company I discovered a place where we were expected to aggressively explore our customer’s problem and think about the solutions we could provide for them. “Ocean Optics” has never aimed to just sell instruments, but rather to discover and develop solutions to various problems. We ask our customers lots and lots of questions and ultimately get inside their heads to make sure we fully understand all the complexities of their experiment. After that we look for the solution and if we don’t have one in hand - we develop a new one. That’s how we’ve ended up with a catalog full of fiberoptic spectrometer gizmos that will measure anything from oxygen in sealed peanut butter jars to LEDs moving down a conveyer belt 5 times/second.

LEDs Review: What do you like the most about your job in Ocean Optics?

Gary Manche:  I truly enjoy my job because I am surrounded by people who are naturally curious about our world and want to know how things tick. I feel that scientific curiosity and constant spark of invention in all the seemingly ordinary workday tasks that I used to take for granted.

LEDs Review: What markets and applications does Ocean Optics currently serve? Could you give some specific examples of the problems solved for your customers?

Gary Manche:  There are limitless applications for these miniature fiberoptic spectrometers, accessories and instruments. Primary markets include academic research, process control, environmental monitoring, life sciences and medical diagnostics. Our systems have been used everywhere from deepwater oil sludge on the ocean floor; soil and mineral detection on the Mars Rover; Florida's orange groves; South America's rain forests; and even for discovering water on the moon.

Early LED manufacturer’s problems were in defining a correct irradiance power and color differentiating system for binning of LEDs. We have developed a spectrometer with the speed, sensitivity and accuracy required to drive LED sorting systems, allowing for precise characterization of the diodes at a speed of 3–5 diodes per second. We are currently working on increasing the system’s sorting speed to keep up with the quickly growing manufacturing scale. Speed and accuracy is the goal in the LED sorting industry.

Ocean Optics and Ocean Thin Films offer a variety of products and services including:

  • Fiber optic UV-VIS-NIR spectrometers ranging from miniature, modular systems to process analyzers
  • Low-cost Raman spectrometers for process control and other applications
  • Fiber optic chemical sensors for measuring oxygen and pH
  • Patterned dichroic optical filters and precision coatings for display and telecommunications applications
  • Optical fibers, assemblies and probes
  • Optical networking products, including A/R coatings, spectrum analyzers and optical filters for DWDM

 LEDs Review: How easy it is to access Ocean Optics solutions worldwide?

Gary MancheOcean Optics has multiple locations around the world. The company is headquartered in Dunedin, Florida, with manufacturing facilities in Florida as well. We have sales and applications support offices in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and China. We are supported by a great network of distributors worldwide and it is never difficult to reach us. 

LEDs Review: Could you describe a great personal experience or insight that you gained working at Ocean Optics?

Gary MancheWhen I started working at Ocean Optics, Mike Morris taught to me ask as many questions from my customers as possible. He’d say, “Just put yourself in their shoes.” If I thought I had the right configuration, invariably, he would send me back to the customer to ask even more questions. I would discover that our client’s problem was much different than I had originally thought. Through more interaction with my customer, we would end up with the right combination. I greatly appreciate the experience and mentoring I received from Mike. His influence is pervasive throughout our organization and has launched Ocean Optics from a Gulf of Mexico PH science experiment into the leading fiberoptic spectroscopy company in the world.

Several years ago Mike Morris led us through the acquisition by HALMA plc.

and then retired.  Fortunately, retirement only lasted 6 months and Mike is now one of our top distributers in North America (SpectrEcology, He continues to share his knowledge and experience with customers and inspires others to find better solutions. 

I think curiosity got the best of him as well….

For more information about Ocean Optics please visit:

Author:  Julia G.

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