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Industries for the Blind Annual Vendor Fair at 171st ARW

  • Published
  • By Airman Allyson Manners
  • 171 ARW Public Affairs
5 Jun 2013 171st ARW, Coraopolis PA: Industries for the Blind hosted the annual Vendor Fair and picnic supporting the 171st Air Refueling Wing's IBExpress store. Eight vendors that have commercial contracts with Industries for the Blind came to the 171st to give Wing members a preview of products that are available through the IBExpress store on base. Although the 11 stores that the Industries for the Blind operates sell commercial products, many are made by visually impaired people.
Founded in 1948 as Alwin Products Co., Industries for the Blind has become a leading employer of blind professionals. In the visually impaired community, there is an unemployment rate of nearly 70%; a number Industries for the Blind is helping to lower. Eighty percent of their workforce is visually impaired in some way. With over 250,000 SKILCRAFT and AbilityOne products ranging from pens to furniture, you can find or order almost any high-quality product you need while making a positive impact on someone's life.
Industries for the Blind had their first contract supplying the federal government with brooms and brushes and have since expanded to sell their products at military and federal installations around the country, including here at the 171st Air Refueling Wing. Our Wing IBExpress store is managed by Mary Connor, who has been a part of the 171st family for more than 12 years. When asked about how she thought the Vendor Fair turned out, she said that the vendors were impressed with the turnout and the interest that our Airmen showed. She also stated that, "the cooperation between this base and the Industries for the Blind is fantastic." To again show their appreciation for our service and support, Industries for the Blind will be hosting a Customer Appreciation Day slated for October 16th of this year. To quote the IBExpress website, "What began as a small company created by a man to help his blind brother is now a leading employer of blind professionals developing the skills needed to deliver anything and everything you need to run your operation. Anytime. Anywhere." The IBExpress store at the 171st Air Refueling Wing continues to provide us with the tools we need to fulfill our mission and with continued support, may do so for many years to come.
Thank you to all the vendors who participated at this year's Vendor Fair:
· Chromate Industrial Corp.
· Saunders
· Edwards Sales Company
· J Motley
· Snap-on
· Dakota Outerwear Co.
· CCP Industries
· Stanley

For more information on Industries for the Blind and their mission, visit