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  1. 1952

    Industries for the Blind, Inc.established. First federal contract was brooms and brushes.

    Pioneered the employment of the legally blind to run semi-automated brush making machines. Now one of the largest brush manufacturers in the Midwest making maintenance and consumer brushes.

  2. 1969

    Industries for the Blind was the first to win federal contracts for pencils and retractable pens. Became the first blind agency to earn GSA Quality Assurance status in the mass production and assembly of GSA retractable ballpoint pens.

  3. 1970

    Started manufacturing U.S. government pens. Capabilities reach over 100,000 pens per day on high speed assembly machines.

  4. 1973

    Became the first blind agency to assemble woodcase lead pencils on semi-automated equipment reaching production of over 250,000 pencils per day.

  5. 1980

    Added SKILCRAFT pencils to the product line. Plant expanded to become the first and only blind agency to completely fabricate lead pencils from raw materials into finished products.

  6. 1984

    Became the exclusive supplier of GSA double blade window squeegees, assembled by totally blind workers.

  7. 1995

    Industries for the Blind was the first non-profit manufacturer to win consecutive manufacturing agreements with Walmart that has contributed in annual sales of over 150 million units of seasonal pencil business annually.

  8. 1998

    First non-profit agency manufacturer in the world to achieve ISO 9000 quality certification of its manufacturing processes.

    Started manufacturing translucent envelopes for the United States Postal Service (USPS).

    First Base Supply Stores opened at Homestead ARB, FL; Malmstrom AFB, MT; Vandenberg AFB, CA and Beale AFB, CA.

  9. 1999

    U.S. Navy recruitment distribution fulfillment program developed.

    U.S. Census Bureau – manufacture, kitting, warehousing, fulfillment of custom imprinted products, stationery and writing instruments.

  10. 2000

    Key West NAS, FL and Charleston AFB, SC Base Supply Stores open.

  11. 2001
    2001 e-commerce website launched

    Coraopolis, PA Air National Guard Base Supply Store opens.

  12. 2002

    Bureau of Justice – sourcing, warehousing, fulfillment of licensed products for Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program.

    Edwards AFB, CA Base Supply Store opens.

    Secured GSA Schedule 78 Sign Award for Sports, Promotional, Outdoor, Recreation, Trophies and Signs (SPORTS).

  13. 2003

    Multi-year U.S. Air Force recruitment distribution fulfillment website and program contract received due to proprietary Inventory Control Management System.

    U.S. Army online program added to Customer Programs website.

    Secured GSA Schedule 75 Multiple Award for Office Solutions Supplies and Services.

  14. 2004

    Received the first (out of eight consecutive years) recognition as an “Outstanding” AbilityOne® Program Distributor. Recognition comes from the independent federal agency, Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, which administers the AbilityOne® Program. website launched worldwide.

  15. 2005

    Hill AFB, UT Base Supply Store opens.

  16. 2006

    Moved into new 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in West Allis with continued growth.

  17. 2009

    Ft. Detrick, MD Army Base Supply Store opens.

    Sold 4.5 million pencils to the federal government.

    Shipped over 10,000 pallets of customer goods.

  18. 2010

    Shipped over 30 million translucent envelopes to USPS year to date.

    Soy-based candle product line added to manufacturing line.

  19. 2011

    Expanded IB Express product line to include Tools and MRO products.

    Added 27 new items to the Homecare Product Line to increase blind labor.

    Launched IB Express Furniture Solutions brand and added 14,000 sq. ft. of office furniture showroom solutions on second floor of West Allis facility.

    Launched Corporate Products sales group.

  20. 2012

    SKILCRAFT Professional paint brushes and accessories added to product line for federal customers.

    Patuxent River, MD Naval Air Station Base Supply Store opened.

    Vandenberg AFB, CA, COCESS Store Operations opened.

    Purchase Top Promotions, Inc. to expand our corporate customization capabilities and further blind employment opportunities.

    Launched to support the Federal BOP with many AbilityOne® products.

  21. 2013

    Opened an AbilityOne Base Supply Center - Barnes Federal Building - Boston.

    Recognized as a Top Workplace by the Milwaukee Journal.

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.

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