Bestwork Industries for the Blind, Inc. (BIB) was founded by Jim Varsaci, a veteran of WWII who lost his sight in battle. When Jim returned home wounded and blind, he and his wife, Rita, worked side by side until well after dark on their farm in New Jersey. That same tenacious spirit led Jim to become a manager in a program funded by the New Jersey Commission for the Blind (NJCBVI), known as Contract Shop #3. This employment program for people who are blind serviced companies such as Campbell Soup and RCA with packing, mailing, and assembly work. Rita became a sewing instructor for NJCBVI.
When state funding ran out for Contract Shop #3, Jim was determined to prevent job losses for his colleagues who so desperately needed employment. Seeking help from private citizens, the New Jersey Commission for the Blind, and National Industries for the Blind, he was able to launch Bestwork Industries for the Blind, Inc. as a private, not-for-profit agency on September 14, 1981. Times were tough at first, and Jim and Rita worked two years without drawing a salary.
Varsaci learned that there were federal government contracts available through the JWOD (Javits, Wagner, O’Day) program for workers who are blind or visually impaired. With the help of Bestwork’s Board of Directors and National Industries for the Blind, Varsaci secured Bestwork’s first JWOD contract. Under the organization’s operating philosophy of high quality, on-time delivery, Bestwork’s reputation brought about more contracts with the Army, Navy, and GSA. What began as a Contract Shop with a few employees has grown into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, successfully partnering with Fortune 500 companies. Bestwork has adopted the universally recognized best practices of Lean Manufacturing and ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Bestwork Industries for the Blind, Inc. is a private not-for-profit corporation dedicated to improving the quality of life for people who are blind by providing training and employment opportunities in a supportive work environment.
Jon Katz – President & CEO
Ed Thomas – Director of Operations
Linda Parker – Human Resources Manager
Gregory Pereira – Controller
Jacqueline Luke-Herman – Operations Manager
David Graham – Production & Logistics Manager
Kenon Hollis – Inventory Manager
Joanne Farrell – Training Manager
Michael Applegate – Quality Control Manager
Board of Directors
John D. Shaw – Chairman
Former VP, Operations Battleship New Jersey
Joyce Albrecht – Vice-Chairman
Retired Educator, Haddon Heights Jr/Sr High School
Brian Katz – Treasurer
Retired Tax Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Kenneth Saunders – Secretary
Retired Quality Assurance Specialist, General Service Administration
James R. Howe
Retired Educator, Haddon Heights Jr/Sr High School
Retired Educator, Magnolia Schools
Alfred X. Zarroli
Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner
Two philosophies underpin the way Bestwork operates: the pursuit of excellence and pride in offering real jobs that generate self-sustaining revenue for this mission-based business. On a daily basis, several values bring these philosophies to life:
- To RESPECT all individuals, appreciate their contributions to the team, and provide opportunity.
- To embrace CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT as fundamental to exceeding our own and our customers’ expectations.
- To foster a learning environment that encourages INNOVATION and leads to new pathways.
- To exhibit ACCOUNTABILITY through open and transparent communication, mission-based decision making, and healthy employee and business relationships.
- To encourage a sense of ownership, consistency, and LEADERSHIP at all levels.
Message from the President & CEO
Welcome to Bestwork Industries for the Blind, Inc. Since 1981, we’ve had an unwavering commitment to increasing employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired while simultaneously serving our clients with impeccable standards of excellence. We measure our success not only by the contracts that are awarded, but also by the lives that are changed. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for people who are blind remains at a staggering 70%. In reality, they are capable and want to work and contribute to society like their sighted counterparts. Our focus at Bestwork is to break down the barriers to employment and empower people through training and technology.
Our new facility is one example that demonstrates our commitment to both our employees and our clients. By doubling our square footage, we’ve been able to expand our production capacity, giving us the ability to accept new contracts and consequently hire more people who are blind or visually impaired. Quality is key for Bestwork. We have been an ISO certified organization since 2010. This certification is critical to our strategy to acquire and maintain new business partners.
We’ve come a long way and we are grateful to our customer base, which includes the federal government, U.S. military, State of New Jersey, and most recently commercial businesses. We look forward to expanding our partnerships with National Industries for the Blind and other AbilityOne stakeholders to position Bestwork as a growing organization with an unlimited future.
Belinda S. Moore