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Lighthouse for the Blind Plays Leadership Role in Hurricane Preparedness

When an earthquake rattles, hurricanes threaten or schools worry about intruders, telephones at the Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis clatter with calls from people and companies ordering emergency preparedness products to help them survive virtually any disaster.

Since acquiring all assets of the Quake Kare brand of emergency preparedness products in February 2014, the not-for-profit Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis, which operates two manufacturing and packaging plants in St. Louis County, Missouri, has become the nation’s leading supplier of survival kits for schools, people, families and businesses.

“Our plant operations are busier than ever as we respond to requests for a full range of high-quality emergency preparedness products for homes, cars, offices, schools and other applications,” says Brian Houser, director of sales and marketing at the Lighthouse, also known as LHB Industries.(http://www.lhbindustries.com).

“When an earthquake shook Los Angeles the morning of March 28, phones in our customer service department rang all day as people called to order earthquake survival kits and emergency supplies that we source, package and ship,” says Houser, adding, “Literally overnight, Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis has become the nation’s leading supplier of emergency products.”

“Whenever a natural or man-made disaster strikes or threatens a community anywhere in the United States, people contact us after finding us via Internet search,” adds Clint Cruse, Lighthouse vice president of manufacturing.

“We have augmented our packaging line and warehouse operations with new equipment to streamline order fulfilment, and engaged a consulting process engineer to assist in retro-fitting our headquarters plant in Overland, Missouri, to handle our expanded ‘just-in-time’ product packaging operations,” says Cruse.

On February 4, the Lighthouse acquired all assets of Quake Kare, Inc. (www.quakekare.com), a leading supplier of emergency preparedness kits, emergency supplies and survival kits for customers that include Google, Chevron, Verizon, Pfizer, Intel, Time Warner Cable, U.S. Department of the Treasury, American Express-Japan and more.

A few days later, the Lighthouse absorbed all assembly, purchasing, shipping and customer service activities when a fleet of semi-trucks arrived at the Overland plant loaded with acquired inventory, including scores of different types of survival kits and emergency supplies. Employees were retrained to handle the new packaging business paradigm.

Quake Kare, Inc. was founded in 1994 as a source of ER Emergency Ready disaster preparedness and survival kits for virtually any crisis situation that individuals, families, corporations, schools and organizations may encounter such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, terrorist attacks, accidents, etc. The Lighthouse Quake Kare products and ER Emergency Ready Kits are specifically designed for cars, homes, offices, schools, shelters, travel and outdoor situations. Sherry Heitz, Quake Care founder, is now a Lighthouse consultant for Quake Kare products.

John Thompson, president of Lighthouse for the Blind-Saint Louis, said, “Acquisition and integration of Quake Kare assets is a natural expansion of LHB manufacturing operations because kit assembly is one of our core competencies. It provides LHB with a full line of branded kit products giving us entry to emergency preparedness markets and gives LHB more exposure in commercial retail markets in addition to our current business in government and military sales.”

Thompson said he hopes the acquisition will add $2 to $3 million to LHB’s revenue in 2014, with annual increases thereafter. LHB currently employs 80 people, most of whom are legally blind, and expects to hire at least two new legally blind employees in 2014 as a result of the Quake Kare acquisition.

Founded in 1933, LHB is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that helps children and adults who are visually impaired maintain dignity and independence by offering employment, education and many support services. Today and for many years LHB and its employees have manufactured, assembled, warehoused and sold high-quality products to customers nationwide including first aid kits, medical kits, catheters, aerosol and liquid paints, aerosol and liquid cleaning products, eco-friendly products and many others.

“The acquisition of Quake Kare assets was a strategic decision by the Lighthouse to acquire a new line of products to generate revenue to support our programs for people who are blind or legally blind,” Houser says.

“Our new recognition as the nation’s best-known brand of emergency products has energized our operations and brought us together as we strengthen our non-profit mission and program success,” Houser says.

All sales revenues directly support 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 others available for individuals who are legally blind and visually impaired in Missouri and Southwestern Illinois.

For more information, contact Brittney Smithers, Marketing Manager, at 800.542.3697 or 314.423.4333. Website http://www.lhbindustries.com.  Media contact: Jeff Dunlap 314.409.5203.

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