2019 Washington Manufacturing Awards, Nonprofit Manufacturer of the Year: The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc.

The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc. wins gold in the Nonprofit Manufacturer of the Year category
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  • The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc.’s Mike Scheschy, machine shop manager; Mike King, set-up specialist; and Machining Supervisor Duane Stephens are part of a 200-employee workforce that manufactures a range of commercial products.
MACHINING. Clockwise from left: The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc.’s Mike Scheschy, machine shop manager; Mike King, set-up specialist; and Machining Supervisor Duane Stephens are part of a 200-employee workforce that manufactures a range of commercial products.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue. See more about the winners of the 2019 Washington Manufacturing Awards hereClick here for a free subscription.

The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc., Seattle

social enterprises — organizations that combine a commercial business with a social function such as employment and training for the disabled — are common now, but they weren’t in 1918 when Lighthouse for the Blind was launched. In the early years, Lighthouse made brooms and mops. Today, its 200 manufacturing employees make plastic and metal aerospace parts, using CNC machines outfitted with adaptive controls, including large-print screens and technology to convert instructions and settings to audio output, so the blind and visually impaired can work on them.

Lighthouse has been a Boeing supplier since 1952. It also produces equipment like canteens for the military and office supplies such as easels. The organization has expanded to three manufacturing locations in Seattle, Spokane as well as Summerville, South Carolina. Lighthouse expects to open another location in the next five years and is studying new products and product lines to add. For example, it just began producing a collapsible stretcher for the Army.

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