October 3, 2022 marked the end of an era for Access Laser with the retirement of its founder and president Dr. Yong Zhang. Yong led Access Laser for more than 23 years, shaping the company into an innovator in CO₂ laser technology that goes beyond a simple dollar-per-watt power source.
Yong’s remarkable career and accomplishments were celebrated in a retirement ceremony with colleagues and friends in Everett, Washington.
Reward people who work hard before rewarding yourself
Many speakers at Yong’s retirement celebration noted that his achievements speak for themselves. In a highly recommended interview in Laser Focus World, he shared insights on how he entered the world of lasers, the founding of Access Laser, and the future of CO₂ laser applications. His most prominent success is with Access Laser, which he founded in a garage workshop and grew into a company with nearly 100 employees and tens of millions in revenue.
However, Yong’s success as a businessman hardly paints the whole picture. Speakers at his retirement ceremony emphasized his far-sighted personality, and the value he placed on passion, trust, and hard work, which allowed his employees to thrive. This is also reflected in his corporate philosophy, in which making money is not the only motivation, but also solving technical problems that no one else can.
From application-specific innovation to production
Access Laser’s approach has been to grow with its customers and help them develop new, visionary applications. Among the lesser-known but no less successful applications of the CO₂ laser are the generation of EUV light for the latest lithography technology, the detection of cancer biomarkers in exhaled air, and free-form glass processing of diffractive optical elements.
Yong plans to spend more time with his family, friends, and community which he will be able to enjoy by splitting his time between his homes in Mill Creek and Yakima. New engagements and responsibilities await Yong at his church and with a second grandchild that is on the way. Although he is retiring, Yong plans to continue to explore life’s big questions.
We are grateful to Yong for all his contributions to Access Laser and wish him continued success in the next stage of his life.