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SEAMS Tour – May 16, 2017

Members that attended the SEAMS Conference at the Grove Park Inn on May 16th & 17th got a wonderful treat of touring IFB Solutions.

IFB Solutions is located at 240 Sardis Road in Asheville, NC. Currently, this facility employs over 100 employees and 55 of these employees are legally or totally blind. Over 75% of IFB’s work is done by blind or visually impaired employees.

Several wonderful things were experienced on the tour such as seeing a few of the 420 items barcoded, sealed and packaged in the IMP Department (Impulse Merchandise Program). These are items our military personnel get the pleasure of purchasing at the many Commissaries across the world. The IMP Department is 100% visually impaired or totally blind.

The Stapler and Disposable Restraints Departments showed us the spring powered staplers and disposable restraints. The staplers used by government employees across the U.S. Many of us got to experience the finished stapler - with just using one finger with very little pressure we could staple 28 sheets of paper. The Disposable Restraints are a plastic restraint used across the U.S. and other countries. Customers include the Military Police, Border Patrol and Law Enforcement.

We saw the Digital Cutting department that does sub-contract cutting for several plants. The Gerber cutting machine can cut patterns at 400 to 500 inches per minute. After the pieces were cut they are packaged by people who are blind. This department also recycles 100% of fabric waste. Last year IFB Solutions recycled over 450,000 lbs. of solid waste.

Things were moving in the Flyer’s Kit Bag Department. In this department we experienced the sewing assembly and packaging of the Flyer’s Kit Bag. This bag is used by the U. S. Air Force. IFB Solutions is responsible for 23% of this Defense Contract. Over 90% of the assembly operations are performed by visually impaired employees. The finished product was on display to see just how much room are in these bags.

CNCS Order Fulfillment Department is located across the aisle way from the Flyer’s Kit Bag Department. IFB Solutions does order fulfillment for CNCS Department (Corporation for National and Community Services) which has over 64 million volunteers worldwide. Orders of items are placed online, fulfilled and shipped. Some of the items ordered may include – posters, brochures, mugs, shirts, pens, bookmarks and many other items. These items are distributed in support of different agencies.

EWOL Department (Extreme Weather Outer Layer). This Parka is layer 7 of the FREE (Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble). This system has been developed for our military for all weather conditions. The EWOL requires over 200 operations. These include everything from automated sewing stations for the visually impaired operators to seam sealing.

Last but not least we toured the Community Low Vision Center. Here Grant Weathers showed many items that are available for sale to help people in the community who have low vision. Some of the items were CCTVs’, magnifiers, large print clocks, calendars and talking devices. A Low Vision Doctor also gives exams twice a month.

Wow what a tour! The group was really impressed. We found out that IFB Solutions offers many things to the local community not only by all the above mentioned departments. They also offer training and employment to the blind and visually impaired. The jobs offered by IFB Solutions helps build the self-esteem, personal independence, and economic growth of the blind and visually impaired they employ