NIB Agency Marks 30 Year Partnership with 3M

ABVI employee who is blind packaging 3M products

This year, NIB associated nonprofit agency Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI)-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, in Rochester, New York, is celebrating 30 years of working with 3M. Launched in 1990, the partnership was a first for an NIB associated agency and a private company.

Interested in producing self-stick notes for sale to federal government customers, ABVI sent a team to the 3M plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky, where Post-it® Notes are produced, to learn about the manufacturing process. 3M helped ABVI source the machines and the raw materials needed to produce the product and ABVI renovated a former knitting mill in Rochester to serve as the production facility. When the agency learned the only floor in the mill that could support the weight of the machinery was the basement, they went to work transforming it into a well-lit manufacturing space.

Over the years, the partnership that started with three products has grown to encompass 37 different products. Beyond the basic yellow note, ABVI now manufactures easel pads, flags, and page markers in many different colors and sizes, all in packaging that reads “Created by Americans who are blind using quality 3M materials.”

The relationship with NIB has grown beyond ABVI and self-stick notes, creating hundreds of good-paying jobs for people who are blind. Nearly a dozen other NIB associated agencies now have products co-branded or made with quality 3M materials that run the gamut from office supplies and food service and operating supplies, to JanSan and safety products. “Once 3M committed to working with the program, they were all in. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner. And that has continued on with the other product lines we have been able to work with 3M to bring in,” says NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch, who notes the success of the alliance paved the way for NIB to develop co-brands with industry-leading companies such as Avery, Zebra Pen, GOJO, Diversey, Spartan Chemical, and others.

“This partnership has changed the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people and altered the destiny of the organization,” says Dr. Gidget Hopf, who recently retired as president and CEO of ABVI. “It clearly would not have been possible without this partnership. 3M made us who we are today.”