With the recent opening of its 21st AbilityOne Base Supply Center (BSC) at Tyndall Air Force Base outside Panama City, Florida, Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) creates new jobs for people who are blind or visually impaired. The new store, which officially opened Jan. 13, will employ two people who are blind or visually impaired at the Panama City location, as well as generate additional employment opportunities at other IFB sites. IFB employees are involved in all facets of store operations from on-site staffing and customer service, to manufacturing and distribution of items sold at AbilityOne stores nationwide.
Like other AbilityOne BSCs, the Tyndall AFB location is a marketplace for AbilityOne products, which are manufactured by people who are blind or have other severe disabilities. The portfolio of AbilityOne items includes SKILCRAFT® branded products made by people who are blind or visually impaired at agencies like IFB. Nearly 45,000 people who are blind or have other severe disabilities are employed by AbilityOne agencies nationwide.
“For every new AbilityOne BSC we open, we are creating new employment opportunities across the spectrum of our business for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said Silas Martin, IFB Vice President of Base Supply Centers and IT. “From office supplies to mattresses to eyeglasses, our IFB employees manufacture a phenomenal portfolio of products needed on base and beyond.”
The new Tyndall AFB AbilityOne BSC will stock 900 highest-demand products, with additional access to more than 100,000 items available at IFB’s eCommerce platform, www.bscsource.com and a virtually unlimited number of special-order items. “At our BSC stores, we provide everything from common office supplies and janitorial products to items like golf carts and kitchen sinks,” said Martin. “Our in-house procurement specialists are experts at tracking down any item that a customer may need and getting that ordered, shipped and billed within a matter of days. Simply put, we get you what you need, when you need it.”
Customer service and in-house procurement are handled by IFB employees in the Winston-Salem location. Manufacturing of a diverse number of AbilityOne products runs across IFB’s locations in Winston-Salem, Asheville and Little Rock, Arkansas, and each of those facilities manages its own distribution network.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Tyndall AbilityOne BSC was attended by leaders from Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, National Industries for the Blind and Tyndall Air Force Base. Anastasia Powell, a long-time IFB employee and community advocate, was the event’s keynote speaker.
Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to more than 40 office supply stores and optical centers across the country. IFB also provides outreach through A Brighter Path Foundation, which operates Community Low Vision Centers across North Carolina and Tracy’s Little Red School House based in Winston-Salem.