The organization did not have to look far for her successor, as strategic operations executive for Bestwork Jon Katz was tapped to provide continuity.
Founded four decades ago, the township based manufacturer provides training and employment for people who are blind or visually impaired. It is an essential supplier of textiles, clothing, apparel and various commodities to the U.S. military, the federal General Services Administration, New Jersey and commercial businesses.
“Jon and I are completely aligned with one another because of the work we’ve done. Part of what I’m looking for in his ascension is the fact that we need to concentrate on growth,” Moore explained on June 3.
“Jon’s job is to find additional opportunities and new business lines,” she added. “There’s a 70 percent unemployment rate for those who are blind. They want to work, but cannot find opportunities. He is ideally suited for this leadership position because of his background.”
Under Moore’s guidance, Bestwork grew from 18 people housed in a facility roughly 5,000 square feet to a sprawling complex on Olney Avenue in the township. Asked to describe a proud moment from her three decades of leadership, Moore cited Bestwork’s synergy with the NIB’s (National Industries for the Blind) job development personnel and its engineers to formulate a proper approach toward increasing employment opportunities for the blind.
Katz arrives with an extensive background in entrepreneurial leadership, having served as the vice president for business development, channel sales and the military resale division at NIB over the last four years. That particular period has enabled him to gain insights into the more than 100 associated nonprofits based in 39 states at more than 250 locations across the country.
“Belinda has done some remarkable things for three decades, so I am lucky that I’m taking over from her a strong foundation and a legacy to build on,” Katz said on June 2. “She has been nothing but forthcoming, transparent and gracious in letting me learn about Bestwork to carry that tradition forward.”
As Moore explained, Bestwork’s most rewarding achievements were its development of two long-standing service contracts with the military. The first was the operation of the telecommunications switchboard at what was then known as McGuire Air Force Base, where Bestwork employees were the voice of McGuire every day for 10 years.
“We converted those boards from basic LED to speech output and recognized year after year for this,” Monroe revealed.
The second achievement Moore cited was a service administration contract with GSA (General Services Administration) Burlington, where Bestwork employees processed millions of lines of orders for the company every year.
“They were able to demonstrate their capabilities at a high level day in and day out. That was 20 years long,” she added.
Katz also knows about long-term dedication and service. A Marine who logged two decades as a soldier, logistics expert and recruitment specialist, he found life beyond the barracks lacked a clear purpose and mission.
“When I returned, I went into the private sector for a while, and something was missing,” Katz recalled. I realized what was missing was the sense of service, of doing something for the greater good.
“When I landed at NIB in January 2016, I just fell in love with the mission,” he added. “I got a double bang for my buck there: to create independence for blind people through employment and to find organizations that would support this mission.”
Katz looks forward to learning more about how to support Bestwork’s endeavors, with Moore expected to provide consultation once he settles into his new role. But in the next five weeks, Katz will also concentrate on putting down roots in the area.
“I’m slowly ramping up to get my head in the game, so to speak,” he noted. “I’m going to relocate, become a member of the community and get involved here as much as I can. This is a bit of a coming full circle for me.”
Katz earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Montclair State, so he became familiar with the Garden State over four years. He considers it a bit of serendipity to continue his life’s work back here.
For more information about Bestwork and its services, visit: https://bestworkindustries.org/.