IFB Solutions CEO David Horton was named one of the region’s Most Admired CEOs for 2018 by The Triad Business Journal. Horton has served as President and CEO of IFB since 2007 having started with the nonprofit organization in 2001 as Controller before being promoted to Vice President of Operations and later Executive Director.

IFB Solutions is the largest employer of individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the country, and Horton has been instrumental in more than doubling the number of IFB’s employees who are blind from 200 to more than 500. His emphasis on innovation and training has helped IFB convert positions previously held by individuals who are sighted into opportunities for people who are blind. With more than 1,000 total employees working across the organization, IFB Solutions is a $140 million operation with three manufacturing facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., and more than 40 office supply stores and optical centers across the country.

In addition to leading IFB’s large-scale manufacturing operation, Horton has overseen the expansion of IFB’s community services, including its Community Low Vision Centers in Winston-Salem, Asheville, Durham and Little Rock, Ark., and the SEE (Student Enrichment Experience) after-school and summer camp programs for children who are blind. Many of the services offered by IFB are free or offered at a reduced charge. An example of IFB’s innovative community programs is Focus on Literacy, a program that provides assistive technology to children who are visually impaired for use at home so they can read and complete their school assignments.

“Every day, David is changing the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired,” wrote IFB Board Chair Ann Johnston in her nomination letter. “His passion behind IFB’s mission spreads to everyone he meets, and because of that, IFB Solutions has added more jobs and created more opportunities for independence for adults and children who are blind or visually impaired in our community.”

Johnston also pointed to the nonprofit’s name change in 2016 from Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind to IFB Solutions as a pivotal time. Horton and the board wanted to emphasize the organization’s multi-faceted capabilities in pursuing new contracts to create more job opportunities. All told, IFB Solutions oversees a diverse manufacturing portfolio including hundreds of office products for the federal government, eyeglasses for nearly 250,000 U.S. veterans a year, and mattresses for state schools and different branches of the military.

“What really impresses people when they walk into our building is that people who are visually impaired are making eyeglasses for our military veterans and their families,” Johnston wrote.
“IFB’s optical lab produces nearly 1,500 pairs of glasses a day, and David’s emphasis on this business has enabled us to triple the number veterans we serve, which falls in line with his passion for supporting those who serve our country. IFB also employs nearly 40 veterans, many of them blind or visually impaired.”

Outside of IFB Solutions, Horton serves as a Board Chairman of the NC Division of Services for the Blind and been elected to leadership roles for the NC State Commission for the Blind (appointed by the Governor). He currently is a board member for the National Association for Employment of People Who Are Blind (NAEPB), and also serves on various committees of National Industries for the Blind.