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WNC Business

IFB Solutions honors Asheville employee, others in 2023 awards

Jul 17, 2023 12:59PM ● By WNC Business

ASHEVILLE — IFB Solutions, the largest employer of people who are blind in the U.S., recently recognized several outstanding individuals through the nonprofit’s 2023 Employee Awards, including Asheville Facility Employee of the Year Tony Brake. 

Brake, who is visually impaired, has worked in assembly and packaging at IFB Solutions’ Asheville manufacturing facility since 2018. A graduate of the Georgia Academy for the Blind, Brake began losing his vision at age 10 due to an allergic reaction to medication. Prior to joining the team at IFB, he worked as a manager in the fast food industry, but his deteriorating vision made that type of work unsustainable. Refusing to be discouraged, Brake applied to IFB Solutions and quickly adapted to the new role, assembling and packaging goods in the Impulse Merchandising department. Soon after, eager to expand his skillset, Brake trained to support other departments, including packaging in Contract Cutting and Stapler assembly. 

“Tony’s versatility, great attendance and personality make him a natural leader,” said Travis Guerra, Asheville plant manager for IFB Solutions. “Tony takes a lot of pride in working and supporting his family, and he embodies IFB’s core value of commitment to excellence. We are honored to name him the 2023 Asheville Employee of the Year.” 

Other 2023 Awards recipients include: David Horton, former CEO of IFB Solutions, received the Commodore Funderburk Visionary Award for 2023. This award is named for the late Commodore Funderburk who was blind, deaf and mute and worked for IFB Solutions for more than 40 years without missing a day of work. It recognizes the individual or group who has worked to advance IFB’s mission of creating opportunities for people who are blind.

Career Achiever award recipient Demarious Bowens of IFB’s Winston-Salem facility, who started as a machine operator, has transitioned to be the first visually impaired person to work in the Finance Department. He has also earned his American Board of Opticianry Certification, becoming just the third person in the country who is visually impaired to do so.

Angela Jordan, Director of Safety and Environmental Health for IFB in Winston-Salem, who received the Delmer Wall Outstanding Service Award for her excellent problem-solving skills and unwavering dedication to the organization’s mission.

About IFB Solutions®:
IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 as Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. Today, IFB strives to be America’s leader in building life-changing opportunities for people who are blind through its mission of creating employment opportunities for this critically underemployed population. IFB’s guiding principles focus on creating upwardly mobile career paths, building on its existing textile operations to develop integrated and technical employment opportunities, and maintaining a strong foundation of packaging and assembly operations as workforce entry points. IFB’s operational footprint includes large-scale manufacturing, Base Supply Center retail and online stores, Workforce Services staffing division, and its Pinnacle Mercantile Amazon storefront. IFB Solutions also provides essential job training for employees and community outreach through its Community Low Vision Centers and programming for children who are blind. Learn more at

Source: IFB Solutions