It’s all about relationships says, Richard Oliver. Richard is the director of business development for the Industries of the Blind (IOB) in Greensboro, NC. The IOB has hosted 15 projects under NCMEP@NCAT and Richard states the experience is good for both students and staff. Students learn a more relatable skill set in this environment because they design processes for people who can’t see. “Their designs have to work or we don’t produce a product.” Richard recalls one project in particular with a new government contract. “Our production was only at 90 pieces and we needed to get to 150 pieces before the end of the year. So it was a good senior design project. We reached this goal by the end of the semester!”
“Students’ design allowed us to meet our production goal”
IOB has been in business for more than 80 years. “We are not a funded non-profit program, we earn the money we need to support our non-profit business. Our goal is to find a place for anyone who is legally blind that wants to work.” Mr. Oliver spoke fondly of an IOB employee who formerly worked as a cook for a popular restaurant. After losing his sight, he sought employment with the IOB.
“We want our employees to not only perform a fulfilling role but to be fulfilled in the role they perform. We use to have an on-site canteen, but we had to discontinue this offering for our employees when the operation proving the service closed. Now we are excited to say that we are working with our new hire so that he can go back to school and then lead this on-site canteen. Our sponsorship with the NCMEP@NCAT supports our manufacturing goals through their vast knowledge of LEAN manufacturing. Students perform time studies, help us maximize our space, streamline our processes, meet production goals, and create jobs for individuals who want to work.”
“We don’t want to be just a building that nobody recognizes on the side of the road”. The NCMEP@NCAT program is one of many community offerings that allow us to provide public support.” IOB also hosts training for refugees, providing space and equipment for immigrants to learn a new trade so that they can find employment. Many of the recipients leaving the program have found work at the IOB.
To learn more about the IOB, Industries of the Blind visit industriesoftheblind.com.