January 12, 2016, St. Louis, Missouri…Many consumers, schools and businesses in the United States are familiar with Quake Kare emergency survival kits, but not all know that St. Louis-based Quake Kare is a not-for-profit organization — all sales revenues directly support programs for people who are visually impaired.
Quake Kare is a unit of Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis, also known as LHB Industries, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. LHB helps individuals who are visually impaired maintain dignity and independence by offering them employment, education and support services in Missouri and southwestern Illinois.
With two plants in St. Louis County, Missouri, LHB is also a manufacturing, assembly and packaging enterprise. Its 47 legally blind employees assemble, warehouse and distribute hundreds of different products to government and business customers, and to consumers nationwide. These include medical kits, catheters, aerosol and liquid paints, aerosol and liquid cleaners, adhesives, eco-friendly products and, since 2014, emergency survival kits for homes, offices, schools and vehicles.
Quake Kare Transformed the Lighthouse
When confronted with a slowing economy, LHB chose to be proactive: It investigated and then invested in a new retail enterprise in order to preserve its social services mission. In February 2014, LHB bought the Quake Kare line of ER™ Emergency Ready Disaster Preparedness kits. This transformed LHB into a more dynamic assembly and packaging operation and soon started generating more revenue.
LHB President John Thompson says, “Many non-profit organizations felt the impact of economic recession and government sequestration. We chose to boost our organization by evaluating potential acquisitions of companies whose operations would be a good fit for us and create revenues to support our non-profit mission. Our acquisition of Quake Kare, which was then based in California, is helping us achieve that goal.”
Quake Kare is the nation’s leading source of emergency survival kits. It provides custom- and pre-packed disaster preparedness and survival kits for virtually any type of crisis such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods, accidents, terrorist attacks and building lock-downs. (http://www.quakekare.com).
Thousands of individuals, families, schools and businesses rely on Quake Kare products. Its survival kits are packed with non-perishable food, water, first aid kits, hand-crank power radios, light sticks, candles, waterproof matches, ponchos, multi-purpose knives, portable toilets, blankets, tissue packs and emergency tents, among other items.
Brittney Bettonville, LHB marketing manager, says, “We viewed Quake Kare as an opportunity to further expand LHB’s operations and provide employment for people who are blind or legally blind in St. Louis. The sales revenue provides much needed income for our 15 community outreach programs serving children and adults who are visually impaired in Missouri and Southwestern Illinois.”
Brian Houser, director of sales and marketing, says LHB operations have changed dramatically since the Quake Kare acquisition. “We went from a medical and kitting packager that did business exclusively with the government and commercial companies to a company that now also markets and sells directly to consumers via our website, as well as via Amazon.com and other retailers,” he says.
“Our Quake Kare sales are steady – and whenever a major disaster occurs, more people contact us to acquire survival kits that our employees provide from our plants in suburban St. Louis,” says Houser.
“Keeping in mind that the majority of our employees are visually impaired,” Houser adds, “there was a learning curve for everyone. While many people wrongly think that a person who is visually impaired cannot perform well in a work environment, we do not believe that. With proper training and the use of adaptive technology—such as magnifiers, CCTVs, computer screen reader programs and Zoomtext—a person who is visually impaired can easily become a productive employee.”
LHB currently employs 47 people who are legally blind in its two assembly and packaging plants in St. Louis County to assemble, pack and ship Quake Kare products and others, including the popular Tear Mender brand of fabric adhesive that LHB acquired earlier this year.
As with Quake Kare sales revenue, all Tear Mender sales income directly supports Lighthouse programs including Professional Career Development; Special Technology and Adaptive Resources for Students (STARS); Summer Jobs for Students; Continuing Education; Arts & Entertainment Accessibility; Low Vision Aid; and other programs.
John Thompson says, “We are marketing Quake Kare and Tear Mender products not only to consumers but to special interest groups such as survivalists, outdoorsmen, adventure seekers and travelers as well to corporate and organizational emergency preparedness markets.”
“These are excellent, very useful products — that is why they sell nationwide,” Thompson says. “With Quake Kare and Tear Mender, LHB is showing that it makes good sense for nonprofits to enhance their missions with creative approaches that can generate revenue to support social service programs.”
“We are very proud of our skilled employees in both of our production plants, and we are proud of our staff members who develop, sustain and provide our meaningful programs for the blind community in Missouri and Illinois.”
For information about Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis services and programs, call 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333. For product information, contact Brittney Bettonville, Marketing Manager, at 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333, or see the websites http://www.quakekare.com or www.lhbindustries.com.
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