San Antonio Lighthouse Engaging Record Setting Growth

SAMA Network & Best Practices Supports Smooth Transition

The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind (SALB) is the community icon for the employment, training and education of the blind and visually impaired, in addition to being a leader in both manufacturing and military retail sales. The Lighthouse is the home to over 300 team members in its manufacturing operations, 75% of which are blind or visually impaired.  This year they are experiencing record setting numbers in both revenue and blind work hours generated.  Established back in 1933, the Lighthouse has delivered upon its mission of “empowering the blind and visually impaired” of San Antonio for over 85 years.  They are very proud to serve their #1 customer, the United States Military, in the production and delivery of hundreds of thousands of Army combat pants, shirts, and chinstraps each year.  Just this past year, and in recognition of the lack of “certified” suppliers in the state of Texas, the Lighthouse added the high end manufacturing process of seam sealing, adding significant opportunity to its customer base.  In addition, the Lighthouse assembles writing instruments, oil testing kits and a variety of absorbent kits.  Of particular note, the Lighthouse assembles over three million pens and mechanical pencils annually.  In support of its critical supply chain to the US armed forces, the Lighthouse is ISO9001 and AS9100 certified, a rare and unique dual quality systems achievement and status.

Beyond manufacturing, the Lighthouse provides additional services to all facets of life for the blind and visually impaired.  The Lighthouse operates 15 Base Service Center Stores across military installations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  In San Antonio the Lighthouse offers multiple services to the blind population including Rehabilitation, Assistive Technology, Career Guidance, a Low Vision Clinic, Children’s and Senior’s Programs and a school to work training program for area high school students.  These services in total touch and impact the lives of over 7,500 blind and visually impaired individuals, families and care givers annually.

2018 has been a record year for the Lighthouse manufacturing operations, with revenue expected to exceed its previous high, back in 2012, by over 40%.  As Bob Buckley, Vice-President of Manufacturing recently said, “one of the major reasons that the Lighthouse has been able to deliver upon the military’s recent, and unprecedented growth level of demand, has been its long term affiliation with SAMA.”  The Lighthouse has capitalized upon a number of relationships and Best Practices made possible by SAMA.  The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC), a long time SAMA member, recently completed a lean process flow exercise with one of the Lighthouse’s newest lines, the Hot Weather Army Combat Jacket.  Indeed, TMAC’s lean processing and one piece flow efforts can be seen in each and every one of SALB’s sewing lines.  In addition, and over the years, the Lighthouse has worked hand in hand with local utility operations, all made possible by its relationship with SAMA, in annually reducing its operating costs.

The San Antonio Lighthouse is proud to serve the blind and visually impaired of the San Antonio community, and that pride is compounded with their #1 customer being all branches of the US military.  This will be a record year of production for Lighthouse Manufacturing, and SAMA remains a steadfast contributor to them achieving these unprecedented results.


Bob Buckley,Vice President of Manufacturing, San Antonio Lighthouse