In 1976, Mike graduated from SUNY Cortland, with a BS in education. Working at The National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT, he found his love for the mechanical engineering world. Mike established OptiPro Systems (formally CNC Systems) in 1982, which originally installed and serviced machine tools for the metalworking industry and was one of the first Mastercam dealers. OptiPro’s expertise with CNC machine tools drew the attention of Eastman Kodak, who reached out to Mike to build the COG (Computerized Optical Generator), a CNC machine retrofit designed to manufacture optics. The COG vaulted OptiPro into the precision optics industry.
In 2008, the Optical Society of America awarded Mike Bechtold the Paul F. Forman Engineering Excellence Award for producing the first affordable CNC machine designed for the optics industry. Today, OptiPro offers over 20 different commercially available solutions for manufacturing and measuring spherical, aspheric, and freeform optics. They are the only U.S. company that offers a complete line of grinding, polishing, and metrology equipment for the precision optics industry. OptiPro employs 80 people in their 30,000 square foot facility in Ontario, NY.