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When Drs. David Bauer and Robyn Clausen took over the optometric practice inside Lamplighter Square, the goal was to expand their business when the lease expired. Nine years later, the newly built property at 100 Brookshire Blvd. gives Bauer & Clausen Optometry even more room to grow.

For nearly a decade, Bauer & Clausen Optometry had no signage for their Lamplighter Square location.

“A lot of people didn’t even know we existed,” said Clausen, co-owner of the optometric practice with her husband, Bauer. “There was no street view.”

Now in a new professional corridor less than a mile down the road, Bauer & Clausen Optometry has outdoor signage, distinguishing it from neighboring businesses.

Bill Hanser developed the 52,000-plus-square-foot subdivision off Central Avenue on the West End. Bauer & Clausen Optometry owns two-thirds of the 12,000-square-foot building at 100 Brookshire Blvd.

“Bauer & Clausen will be a good fit and a good addition to the neighborhood,” said Hanser. Neighboring businesses include Brewer Dental, Brewer Orthodontic, Tyler Technologies, Little Horn State Bank and Full Circle Counseling Solutions. Only 4,700 square feet of Class A residential professional office space remains available in the development.

Building the team

With the help of Yellowstone Bank’s Zack Dunn, who referred Bauer and Clausen to Hanser, the building plans were finalized in late July. They broke ground in August with a six-month construction timeline. Studio 4 Architects, Jones Construction and subcontractors made the process seamless.

“Communication was great. The process was remarkably smooth,” Bauer said.

Bauer & Clausen Optometry closed for three business days to prepare for a March 9 re-opening in the 7,200-square-foot space. The business was able to relocate all of their furniture from Lamplighter Square between snowfalls. Weather didn’t impact construction, despite Billings’ harsh winter.

“We were able to continue through the exceptionally rough winter this year,” said project manager, Bryce Terpstra, of Jones Construction. “It goes to show how well our team worked together. We made it very efficient.”

A classy clinic

When walking through the automated and handicap-accessible glass doors at the office entrance, there’s an elegant feel.

The front desk takes center stage, uniquely shaped into a near-complete hexagon with a granite countertop and wood paneling. An accent wall with the company’s insignia is the backdrop, centered between two sets of three cutout shelf blocks and contrasted against a textured white wall. Fresh flowers and modern décor featuring Bauer & Clausen’s unique glasses logo fill the shelves.

Bauer thinks the building’s exterior is deceiving.

“Our architect did a really good job,” he said.

At left is a waiting area with a coffee station and flat-screen TV. At right are four tables with room for two optical consultations each. Wooden display cases line the west wall with various frames available for purchase. Groupings of glass and metal lights hang from the tall ceiling. Canvases of photography specially made for Bauer & Clausen by photographer Nikki Schaubel take up the extra space in the lobby area as well as the hallways near the exam rooms.

Bauer & Clausen brought existing “still trendy” furniture with them. The goal was for more space to move around; the interior design was an added bonus to building a new office.

“It’s spread out enough that there’s a better shopping experience,” Clausen said. “I think (clients are) really surprised about the size, the feel, and parking.”

Five employees of various roles shared a third as much space as is now available to reception alone. Billing and insurance professionals have their own room for making private phone calls.

“We had them packed in as sardines (before),” Clausen said.

Melissa Asbeck, insurance and billing specialist, says employees don’t have to be so creative with where to find storage anymore.

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“Even the patients have more space to spread out,” she said.

Elbow room

Nearly tripling the square footage of their previous location, Bauer & Clausen is able to hire a third optometrist and have room for a fourth, if desired. The optometric center hired Jessica Forsch as its third specialist.

More space means easier patient flow, too.

Clausen says that one extra provider means that an entire family could be seen in one visit if they are willing to see three different optometrists.

With more exam rooms and designated areas for contact lens training, patients can stay in their rooms as they wait to be seen. Clients getting their eyes dilated have their own seating as well.

“We don’t have to take patients back to the waiting room,” Bauer said. “We can have longer time with patients.”

With regard to eye care, Bauer & Clausen doesn’t fall into a cookie-cutter approach.

“We really customize their prescription to how they’re using them,” said Clausen. That means if a client regularly drives at night or uses a computer, the prescription will be catered to their needs.

And with that new prescription, a patient will be able to see not only the intricate interior design of their eye doctor’s office, but the far-off views of the Rims from within the lobby area.

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