Expansion and Accomplishments
While FY 2012 was a challenging year, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. had several milestone achievements as we strove to accomplish our strategic goals and increase opportunities for people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities. These include the addition of new products, expanding our machining capabilities, physical expansion in our satellite facility in Spokane and Base Supply Centers, and increasing our training and accommodations for our employees and the community.
The Lighthouse had many significant milestones in 2012, most notably with the approved expansion of our Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) facility in Spokane, WA. The expansion will add an additional 41,000 square feet to our existing 52,000 sq. ft. facility, enabling our organization to provide training and employment opportunities for up to 100 individuals who are blind and visually impaired in the coming years. This expansion is driven by plans to increase production in our wallboard lines with over ten new products, as well as production of three new easels. Another exciting feature of the expansion is a new kennel that will house employee guide dogs during the workday. The new temperature-controlled facility will triple the number of animals that can be housed, while allowing owners and their dogs to walk outside in a fenced, grassy dog run area.
In manufacturing, we have added new Okuma milling machines to allow for the machining of titanium, which positions The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. to participate in the next generation of aerospace manufacturing. We’re exploring the possibility of adding high temperature plastic injection molding, which would also further broaden our product line.
The Lighthouse worked on various partnerships with other agencies to increase employment opportunities and to grow our customer base. One of these partnerships is CONNECT Supply Chain, a consortium of twelve nonprofits in the Puget Sound region supporting original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), sub-tier contractors, and the U.S. Government in the commercial and defense industries. Their products and services include manufacturing, outside processing, and assembly of complex parts and assemblies for commercial and military aircraft, as well as logistics services supporting primarily the U.S. military.
SKILCRAFT Component Parts is a machining partnership of Arizona Industries for the Blind, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., and Beyond Vision. Each SKILCRAFT Component Parts company is associated with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and a participant in the AbilityOne Program.
In our Base Supply Center (BSC) program, we began development of our new store at the base on Fort Irwin, CA in October. While the Base Supply Centers (BSCs) have been faced with unique challenges, which included lower margins, the BSCs had a record-breaking year for sales. Fiscal year 2012 saw over $16 million in revenue for the BSCs, breaking last year’s record by over $1.2 million.
Another of our strategic initiatives is to Expand Accommodations and Training Opportunities. One highlight in this area is a new Community Resource Series implemented over the past several months in which local organizations and government agencies share their expertise with our employees. For instance, over the winter organizations that support skiers who are blind and Deaf-Blind came to share about their programs, along with the tactile experience of touching cross country and downhill skis. Other presenters have provided information on affordable housing and on the Seattle Fire Department. Another area of expansion has been the addition of technology to increase accessibility, including the recent purchase of seven braille displays and 13 Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs). Continued growth under this initiative means we’re providing more opportunities for our employees.