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ibMilwaukee’s beginnings date back to 1948 when Paul Fryda launched Alwin Products Co. to provide employment for his blind brother.

When Fryda learned about the Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) Act requiring government agencies to purchase goods and services from blind not-for-profit companies, he restructured the company as a non-profit organization with the goal of attracting government business and expanding blind employment opportunities.

He succeeded.

Our first contract was supplying the federal government with brooms and brushes. As we added more government contracts, our business grew and we become the only blind agency in the country manufacturing pencils from raw materials into finished products. Now we manufacture more than six million SKILCRAFT® pens annually. Our services now include the operation of AbilityOne® Base Supply Centers on military and federal installations around the country. The AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States; by providing manufacturing jobs that create SKILCRAFT® products to the Federal Government at a fair market price. Our production and distribution now includes products such as branded clothing, bags, and other promotional and recruitment materials for many federal, government, and corporate customers.

 Our storied history has been marked by a number of significant “firsts” for blind agencies.

  • First blind agency to win the GSA Quality Assurance award in the mass production and assembly of retractable ballpoint pens
  • First non-profit manufacturer to achieve ISO 9000 quality certification
  • First non-profit manufacturer to win consecutive agreements with Walmart for the manufacturing of pencils
  • First non-profit to service the U.S. Postal Service with the manufacturing of glassine envelopes
  • First non-profit e-commerce web portal authorized as a preferred source of supply to the US. Air Force

 Over the years, our ongoing investments in manufacturing machinery and plant upgrades have allowed us to add several other items to our product line. More importantly, through the use of innovative technologies, we have grown the number of blind individuals we employ. From manufacturing jobs to IT, inside sales to purchasing and e-commerce, blind individuals are just as capable as our sighted professionals.

Blind Living Radio

Tune in every week to hear host,  Harley Thomas, along with special guest hosts, discuss life in the blind community. We will cover topics ranging from life with a guide dog to advances in assistive technology. Nothing is off limits on Blind Living Radio.

This week, host Harley Thomas welcomes respected blind advocate, evangelist and Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute at the National Federation of the Blind, Mr. Anil Lewis. Anil's leadership, passion and accomplishments provide inspiration for the blind and sighted community alike. Join us for his very special appearance on this week's episode of Blind Living Radio.

Blind Living Radio
"Working at IB has given me a whole new outlook on a whole lot of things including self-esteem. "
Julie Davis, Machine Operator
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