A unique Kansas City organization offers goods and services running the gamut from manufacturing prescription bottles to sewing military uniforms to providing a call center—all with a focus on employing the visually impaired.
Alphapointe is the third-largest single employer of the visually impaired in the U.S.. Head-quartered at 7501 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, Mo., it is a nonprofit agency with the mission of empowering those with vision loss to achieve their goals and aspiration—which includes employment. It also provides rehabilitation, education and advocacy for those with vision loss.
Despite its nonprofit status, Alphapointe’s various operations brought in $50 million in revenue in 2017.
Founded in 1911, today Alphapointe employs more than 400 people in nine locations in different states.
Alphapointe CEO Reinhard Mabry said Alphapointe’s business operations support its core purpose. Nearly one-half of one percent of the U.S. population is legally blind, and 70 percent of that population is unemployed.
“Everything that we do is focused on our mission of creating jobs and building the skills for those to live independently,” Mabry said. “We have a variety of different enterprises under one company, and they are intended to provide a wealth of job options.”
Alphapointe manufactures various products and provides a number of services. The U.S. government is its biggest client.
Since 1968, Alphapointe has fabricated writing instruments for the government—up to 12 million pieces annually. When the Department of Veterans Affairs started a mail-order pharmacy, Alphapointe got the contract to manufacture prescription bottles, producing about 50 million annually. It also provides 13 million bottles for ExpressScripts.
In its New York City location, Alphapointe produces janitorial supplies including brooms, mops and brushes. A sewing division produces military uniforms. The organization also develops new products for the U.S. military.
“We co-designed and developed the next generation of tourniquet for the Army,” Mabry said. “For our employees working on this, it is a way for them to serve and give back to their country.”
Call center services are another spoke in Alphapointe’s wheel.
“It is headquartered in Kansas City, but we have remote employees who work from New York City to Sacramento, Calif., or from their homes elsewhere. They can log into our system and service our customers,” Mabry said.
Alphapointe runs two military supply retail operations—one in mid-Missouri at Fort Leonard Wood and the other at Little Rock Air Force Base.
‘WE WANT TO CREATE MORE JOBS’
In the last few years, Mabry said, Alphapointe added more white-collar jobs and jobs in the teleservice space.
“It has given people who are blind more avenues of work beyond industry and manufacturing,” Mabry said. “Some of those jobs require technical skills, background checks, and some require degrees and certifications. … What that means is Alphapointe has a breadth of job opportunities. We are not catering to one unique population but serving people from all walks of life and with all kinds of aspirations.”
Mabry is confident Alphapointe will continue to grow, serving more people with visual impairment while producing goods and services that are in demand.
“I want to extend our reach and serve a lot more folks and serve a national audience,” Mabry said. “We want to create more jobs and have those jobs be aspirational careers. The development of the tourniquet has opened new opportunities for us.”
Kansas City provides a great place for Alphapointe to grow, Mabry said.
“Kansas city has a very giving heart and compassionate attitude about people in need, and we are sincerely grateful for the community’s support of our mission,” he said.