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ASHEVILLE, NC (June 18, 2013) – Industries for the Blind (IFB) Asheville recently started production on a $10.5 million contract with the US Marine Corps to make all-purpose poncho liners for their troops. 214,000 liners will be delivered over the next 12 months.
“We are excited about this new contract for many reasons; it means our current employees have plenty of work, and we are hiring 18 new employees to help us produce the liners,” said Randy Buckner, Director of Operations for IFB Asheville.
IFB has produced every poncho liner for the military for the past 20 years, but this poncho liner is special. The Marines wanted a liner with a zipper that could function as a sleeping bag. They also wanted additional waterproof coating on the outside of the fabric so it would keep soldiers dry without using the poncho. In addition to working as a sleeping bag, the liners can serve as sleeping bag inserts, blankets or ground cover.
IFB worked with NATICK, the organization that develops products for our troops, to create the liner. Buckner explained that IFB developed the prototype, did some tweaking, and then helped write the specifications.
“One important aspect of the liner is the zipper, which is polyester,” said Buckner. “Incorporating this type of zipper allows a soldier to leave his or her bag quickly and quietly.”
IFB employees must produce an average of 900 all-purpose liners per day to stay on track with this contract. Although it’s early in the contract, Buckner says IFB employees are already making that happen.
Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind (IFB) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1936 that provides employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As one of the largest employers of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates facilities in Winston-Salem, Asheville and more than 40 other locations throughout the United States. In addition, IFB provides outreach across Northwest North Carolina through its Community Low Vision Centers and A Brighter Path Programs.