Industries for the Blind buys Hartland industrial building

West Allis-based nonprofit organization Industries for the Blind Inc. recently purchased a 100,000-square-foot industrial building at 340 Maple Ave. in Hartland for $2.34 million from Milwaukee-based C. Coakley Relocation Systems.


Industries for the Blind provides job training and employment opportunities for blind workers, placing individuals in manufacturing positions as well as in sales positions and information technology roles.

Roughly half of the organization’s 225 employees are blind or visually impaired. The organization is a single source supplier that offers a variety of services, from manufacturing and fulfillment to creative services, custom promotional products, and more.

In addition to its main plant located in West Allis, Industries for the Blind operates a satellite plant in Janesville and also has 12 base supply stores throughout the country.

The new building in Hartland will provide additional workspace for Top Promotions, a company that Industries for the Blind acquired in February. Based in Middleton, Wis., Top Promotions specializes in custom-imprinted products, such as imprinted t-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps, and was positioned for significant growth at the time of the transaction.

“In order to provide more capacity for their manufacturing, we purchased the building in Harland, Wis., and they will move part of their manufacturing – their expansion – (into) that building,” said Chuck Lange, president and chief executive officer of Industries for the Blind.

As Top Promotions continues to grow, the company will employ a number of individuals who are blind and visually impaired as machine operators, sales representatives and customer service representatives.

Lange estimates that about 20 people with visual impairments will be employed between Top Promotions’ Hartland and Middleton locations. Following the acquisition, the company maintained its original location, name, management team and employees.

The new plant in Hartland is centrally located between Middleton and West Allis.

“So strategically from a logistical standpoint it was a good location,” Lange said.

Industries for the Blind aims to move employees into the building and start operations this fall after renovations are completed in the coming months.

“It’s a very, very positive move to carry out our mission of providing jobs to the visually impaired,” Lange said. “So this is kind of a big step, and a lot of the new jobs will be higher paying and some of them will be professional jobs.”

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