John Fruth grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota and attended Saint John's Prep, where he wrestled on the SJU wrestling team as a high school student. While attending St. John's University he began working in the contact lens business and left college before graduation to work full time.
Mr. Fruth's entire career has followed the ever-changing contact lens industry. He worked at both Bausch & Lomb and CooperVision with ever-increasing levels of responsibility, including running Canadian operations and becoming a member of the senior team at CooperVision. Mr. Fruth left CooperVision in 1983 to start his own business manufacturing and marketing private-label of contact lenses. He founded Ocular Sciences, Inc. in 1985 and has been Chairman of the Board and Director since the company's inception. He was the Chief Executive Officer from 1985 until May 1999 and President from 1985 to October 1997. In April 2000, Mr. Fruth resumed the position of Chief Executive Officer and President until a successor was named.
Ocular Sciences, Inc. manufactures a broad line of high quality, competitively priced soft contact lenses marketed directly to eye-care practitioners. The company's lenses are brand and product differentiated by distribution channel. Ocular's unique lens technology makes thinner lenses that are easier to handle and more comfortable to wear than those of leading competitors. In 2004, Ocular Sciences expected revenues of $345 million, making it the fifth largest contact lens company in the world. In November 2004, CooperVision bought Ocular Sciences, Inc. for a reported $1.2 billion in a combination of cash and common stock. The road from start-up to sale was full of challenges, including customers grouping together and demanding to buy the company, a partner "running off with the store" to England, partnering with a Japanese-based firm, and going public in 1997. The merger of Ocular Sciences with Cooper Companies' CooperVision unit brings together the world's fourth and fifth largest manufacturers to become the world's third largest contact lens company.