“This place changes your life.”
This simple answer is how Elmer Norton proudly described what NewView Oklahoma means to him. The same powerful sentiment is noticeable through the entire organization. Founded in 1949, NewView, whose mission is to empower people to achieve their maximum level of independence, is the leading employer of Oklahomans who are both blind or visually-impaired.
One way NewView achieves this mission is by running a successful manufacturing business that provides goods and services to private customers, federal and state government, as well as functions as a prime contractor for Department of Defense programs. NewView currently houses various manufacturing operations, such as the production and packaging of shower curtains, military ration bar packaging, first aid kit assembly, a fire hose operation, and a partnership with the Water4 project. Vision-impairment or blindness pays no mind to status or education, and there is a difficulty to find employment.
“At NewView, you can learn skills to go back into the field or continue to work here with our various operations. It is a great stepping stone to get a base to apply elsewhere to continue to work and maintain your independence.” ~ Dave Anderson, Production Manager
“We have never had anything come into this building that we could not do. We figure everything out.” Dave Anderson proudly bragged. All of the work and processes are created by the team. Communication and experience drive the designs of the procedures so that any job can be accomplished.
“They teach us the software, and now I can do anything a sighted person can do. With initiative and the willingness to try, there is nothing I cannot do. This place has taught me that, and it has even helped me achieve independence in my personal life.” ~ Elmer Norton, First Aid Lead
The team at NewView is made up of great people who work well together. “We are a business, and we make high-quality products. Our customers are impressed – and not because we are blind – but because of the quality of our products.” Dave Anderson stated.
No details are missed on the production lines. Without using the sense of sight, they instead feel every inch of their products to check for errors, which has led to catching more errors than someone would by just looking. The motto at NewView is if it does not pass, it does not pass you; any hesitation in the quality of a product is grounds for that team member to pull it from the line for inspection. As a result, the rejection rate on their fire hose line is less than 1%.
NewView’s Partnership with Hartwig & Okuma
When NewView was introduced to Hartwig, it was not just a simple business relationship that developed, but instead a genuine friendship. Application Engineers, Sales Engineers, and other team members who walked through the doors of the NewView facility were ignited with a passion to help them pursue their mission. Always leaving with a desire to be a part of what is happening at NewView, Hartwig began helping NewView acquire their first Okuma GENOS L250E to bring the production of their fire hose couplers in-house.
“The team at Hartwig has been a wealth of knowledge and a vital resource for us. They are always willing to help.” ~ Albert Brumley, CNC Supervisor
The decision to partner with Okuma was made easy when Okuma was willing to re-engineer the machine’s OSP control to make it work for their specialized needs. The control has Braille, a larger screen so the fonts can be increased, and includes JAWS software that provides audio capabilities.
Constructing approximately 500 forestries and Navy fire hoses per day, NewView was outsourcing the couplers for the hoses at the cost of approximately $1 million annually. Now with their new Okuma lathe, they have the opportunity to control their own production, lead time, and quality by machining parts in their own shop while providing employment for the visually-impaired.
“Okuma’s machines provide the opportunity to achieve our mission of helping people have their independence and come to work every day with a purpose. The technology will benefit many by providing higher skilled jobs with higher pay.” ~ Adam Higby, Lead Machinist
In the end, the partnership with Hartwig and Okuma provided more than simply a lathe to turn hose couplers, but a chance to bring more opportunities to the community. The goal is to bring awareness of who they are and what they can do. “I want everyone to recognize what we are doing here and understand that life isn’t over after you lose your vision. You can overcome it if you choose to. That is where Okuma is going to come in and help us out, making us bigger and better than we are.” Higby concludes.
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