Our History

What started more than 80 years ago as a two-room shop has grown into a national multimillion-dollar enterprise. As IFB Solutions continues to grow, the focus remains–change lives through opportunity.
And we’re proud to say “Our vision is working.”

Core manufacturing entities in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Little Rock, Arkansas were founded in the late 1930s and early 1940s, during a time when visual impairment virtually assured unemployment. IFB Solutions’ first workers, united to manufacture mattresses, brooms and caned chairs, unknowingly forged the way for an organization that would improve the lives of thousands of individuals and families across the nation.

Today, IFB Solutions is the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States, a group with a near 70 percent unemployment rate. Growing revenue streams have evolved into a powerful force for change.

A group of employees at IFB Solutions Winston-Salem gather around a mattress on the manufacturing floor.

2016

IFB Solutions rebrands under one name to unify its diverse operations in the marketplace and community.

2015

The Asheville location manufactures its 250,000th stapler, and the Winston-Salem location becomes America’s only domestic manufacturer of staples.

A boy runs his hand along a tile mosaic wall.

2012

Tracy’s Little Red School House opens.

2008

IFB Solutions becomes the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country, and sales surpass $100 million for the first time. The IFB Solutions Foundation is formed to offset the costs of programs and services for employees and the community.

2007

The Asheville location moves into a new, modern facility, and the JWOD Act becomes known as The AbilityOne® Program.

2006

TAD’s Room opens in memory of Tad Garner as a multipurpose space for clubs, support groups and training and development programs.

2004

The first Community Low Vision Center opens in Winston-Salem.

2002

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs becomes IFB Solutions’ first long-term customer in optical manufacturing.

A man smiles at the camera while sitting at his work station.

1998

The Impulse Merchandising Program launches in Asheville.

1997

First Base Supply Center operation for IFB Solutions opens at Fort Dix, New Jersey, followed soon by one at West Point, New York and Roosevelt Roads Naval Base (now at Fort Buchanan), Puerto Rico.

1991

The Winston-Salem operation acquires Asheville Industries for the Blind, and troop deployment for the Gulf War leads to an order for 640,000 gas-mask bags.

1983

The site which now houses IFB Solutions’ headquarters is dedicated.

A man smiles at the camera while working on a mattress.

1981

The Winston-Salem operations become independent from Goodwill Industries.

1980

The Defense Supply Agency contracts IFB Solutions to manufacture 692 pairs of vinyl footwear to protect personnel at nuclear test sites.

1976

The Little Rock location begins making notebooks and military belts for the U.S. government.

A man works to assemble a mattress.

1971

Congress amends the Wagner-O’Day Act to include people with severe disabilities and services to the federal government. With Senator Jacob Javits leading this change, the Act became known as the Javits Wagner-O’Day Act (JWOD).

1966

The Defense Department places an order for 17,500 felt mattresses, challenging IFB Solutions to meet new levels of demand.

1965

Groundbreaking commences on the Little Rock facility, and a capital campaign draws in over 50,000 contributions.

A statue of Commodore Funderburk.

1963

Commodore Funderburk joins IFB Solutions as a mattress-maker and does not miss a day of work for 41 years.

1958

Goodwill Industries moves its Winston-Salem operation to North Liberty Street.

1945

Helen Keller dedicates the new Little Rock facility.

1940

Rev. Jeff Smith, a blind Methodist minister, establishes a small workshop in Little Rock with a $100 donation and help from friends.

Two men work together to assemble box springs.

1936

The Wagner-O’Day Act requires that all federal agencies purchase specific supplies from nonprofit agencies employing people who are blind. National Industries for the Blind is established.

1936

Originally known as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, IFB Solutions is founded and organized by the local Lions Club.