Industries for the Blind opens new Menomonee Falls facility
Walker attends ribbon-cutting ceremony

By Ralph Chapoco - Daily News

Nov. 30, 2017

Brynt O’Neil of Milwaukee shakes hands with Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday afternoon during the ribbon-cutting for the Industries for the Blind warehouse in Menomonee Falls.
John Ehlke/Daily News

MENOMONEE FALLS — Representatives from one company are hoping to provide additional opportunities for those who face obstacles for employment — so much so that they have relocated a portion of their operations to better recruit workers.

Leaders and staff from Industries for the Blind hosted a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of their new operations facility in Menomonee Falls.

Among the invited guests were local elected and state officials, including Gov. Scott Walker.

“Thanks to all, the board, the leadership, most of all the employees here at Industries for the Blind, thanks to all the rest of the company, supporters of the business in Menomonee Falls and the mission of IB,” Walker said.

The company’s mission is to provide employment opportunities to the visually impaired. It is based in West Allis, and is a national industrial supplier and distributor of office supplies, office furniture, fixtures, equipment, customized knitting and branded merchandise.

“We have been around since 1952 and we are a manufacturer of pens and pencils, brooms and brushes; that is how we started,” President and Chief Operating Officer CJ Lange said. “We started to get some government contracts back in the 1960s and ’70s.”

Along with the 98,000square-foot facility in the village, representatives also have a manufacturing site in at the company headquarters in West Allis along with another manufacturing facility in Janesville.

“Obviously, our mission is to employ the blind,” Lange said. “We always have a ratio of our people who are out producing the actual materials, of 75 percent or greater line employment. We are always far surpassing that percentage. Of course, we want to expand blind employment throughout Wisconsin, which is why we are opening up the facility in Menomonee Falls.”

Walker takes a tour Wednesday afternoon at the Industries for the Blind warehouse.
John Ehlke/Daily News

One of those employees is Jeana Angelini. She has worked at Industries for the Blind for 4.5 years and supervises workers in several departments.

“The company stands by what it says,” Angelini said. “They believe in innovation. They also believe in strong upward mobility, so if a blind or visually impaired person wants to progress in their career, move from production to a sales associate, or supervisor position within another area in a facility, they help the individual acquire the skills and adapt to the equipment they need. They support that.”

She described times when she sent numerous job applications to prospective employers, only to be rejected. The company provides several tools to assist visually impaired employees with their job duties.

There are devices that provide additional illumination. Some will magnify objects, so they are easier to see, while others will transcribe text and read it to the employee.

Lange said there is a significant visually impaired population at their three sites. He added the manufacturing facility will produce kits for the military, from medical supplies and tools for various tasks.