"I am driven to be defined by my work and my professional contributions to this company, not the fact that I'm visually impaired."
If you ask Ben Zellmer to tell you one thing he'd like people to know about himself, that is his answer. An engineer by education, an inventor by hobby and a tech genius by trade, Ben is never lacking in motivation to uphold and surpass every expectation his job requires. Having been with Industries for the Blind for over nine years, Ben's journey to becoming senior director of e-commerce operations hasn't followed a straight path – it's been more of an "over the river and through the woods" kind of ride – but he will tell you it's been an exciting one.
He started out on the production floor operating pencil and brush machines, worked his way up to customer service, meandered over to accounting and eventually reached his destination in e-commerce. As senior director of operations for the department, Ben is in charge of our flagship purchasing site, ibSupply.com. He, along with 10 other people in the department, are responsible for managing data, optimizing the site's functionality and ensuring our customers have a smooth, efficient and effective shopping experience every single time.
Ben finds a lot of satisfaction in his role, particularly in his ability to positively impact the company's profitability and sales growth through the website. This equates to more job opportunities for blind and visually impaired people, which is ultimately the goal at the end of the day.
He's a husband, father and die hard Milwaukee Brewers fan. He loves pizza, Jack Johnson and just happens to own a design patent on an over-the-shoulder basketball carrier he invented. No biggie.
Ben is an incredible asset to our team.
As an advocate for the blind, a lover of Gilmore Girls and mother to her best friend (and daughter), Toni, Cindy Alioto is thoughtful, smart and well-rounded member of the Industries for the Blind family.
After 30 years working as a customer service representative for a sheet music publishing firm, Cindy was crushed when the company downsized and she lost her job. After spending three months out of work, she became disheartened until a friend suggested she apply at Industries for the Blind.
She began her career by assembling ballpoint pens on the manufacturing floor when, before long, her talent and positive demeanor earned her a promotion to customer service specialist, then inside sales associate, the title she still holds today.
Outside of work, Cindy serves as an advocate for the blind and visually impaired. She believes with a little adaptation, "a blind person can do anything." She stands behind that by volunteering for organizations like Vision Forward, the Milwaukee Beer Barrel Blind Bowling League, BOLD (Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) and the National Federation for the blind, just to name a few.
She loves the variety her job offers and the satisfaction of solving problems. When she's not changing the world, you can find her polishing her crown for 2011 Employee of the Year. She believes, "We do not have disabilities, we have possibilities."
And we couldn't agree more.
Ike Robinson firmly believes that the harder you work, the better your life will become - and he's living proof. In the 25 years he's worked for IB Milwaukee, Ike has grown from a quiet young man into a confident family man who's passionate about giving back to the local community.
"I don't call being blind a disability - I call it an inconvenience," Ike explains. "That's all it is. It shouldn't hold you back from being successful in life."
Ike and his wife Kathleen devote their free time to working with people who have drug and alcohol addictions and helping local children in need by bringing them book bags filled with school supplies. However, even when he's switched from "Superman" mode back to everyday life as Clark Kent, you won't find Ike vegging out. In his free time, he enjoys collecting and showing his classic cars at local car shows and restoring old bikes for the kids in his neighborhood.
Matt's current title may be machine operator, but his knowledge and experience span far beyond what his title would suggest. In fact, Matt has worked just about every position on the operation floor and is always eager to try his hand at various tasks.
With such a "go-getter" attitude, it's no surprise that Matt has never let his limited sight stop him from following his dreams… even when his dream of becoming Evil Knievel led him and his friends to set up ramps on the street to practice their bike stunts.
These days, Matt prefers to spend his free time hitting the pavement with his four-legged friends instead of, well, literally hitting the pavement. He and his wife are animal-lovers and currently share their home with two dogs, four cats and a few beta fish.
Fun fact: If you've ever used one of our SKILKRAFT pens, there's a good chance it was assembled with a smile. And no, we're not just saying that!
Shimika Harris firmly believes that if you start your day with a positive attitude, you are guaranteed to have a great day. Her sunny disposition lasts throughout the day - whether she's hard at work assembling as many as 2,000 pens on our production floor during the day, braiding hair for her friends and family in her free time, or bringing the laughs as a Christian comedian.
One thing's for certain: with Shimika around, we're always guaranteed to have a great day!
The word "career" is something we take seriously. We pride ourselves on having a low turnover, engaged work model where people are key to what we do. Our biggest resources, our most important investment is in people. Take a look through what positions we have available and see if there is a place for you in what we're doing.
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.