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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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C.J. Lange

President & CEO

Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IBVI)

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Founded: 1952

Industry: Industrial Manufacturing

You cannot, unfortunately, be everyone’s friend when you’re in senior management. CJ Lange points to this axiom as a key lesson in his professional leadership development.

“Going back to my early management years, probably my greatest leadership lesson would have to be the realization that when you are in senior leadership, you cannot always continue to be everyone’s best friend when it comes to evaluation and what’s best for the organization or company as a whole,” he said. “When you’ve reached that plateau in your career development, the only way to successfully provide the leadership that is necessary, is to give your reports the honest truth and evaluation that they deserve so that they themselves also can become better team players and team leaders.”

Lange is president and CEO of Industries for the Blind and Visually Impaired. IBVI defines its mission with five core statements
• Create and grow employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired
• Provide the best, most cost-effective industrial supplies and friendly customer service
• Be the leading voice in educating businesses on how to create, design and build accessible workplaces for the blind and visually impaired
• Balance job creation, capital investments and profitability while adhering to regulatory requirements
• Create an open, collaborative environment that fosters innovative business ideas, engages employees and adds a true sense of belonging

Over the next five years, Lange hopes to find people who need jobs and match them with business development opportunities that lead to multiyear contracts that support IBVI’s mission and footprint expansion goals. IBVI has facilities in West Allis, Janesville and Menomonee Falls, and the next targets are Appleton and Green Bay.

Lange’s background is in tech. He received a Master of Information Systems Management degree at DeVry University in Chicago. He was hired by IBVI in 2000 to solve the organization’s IT challenges and launch an e-commerce site. It was a six-month contract role, but 22 years later, Lange is still at IBVI, now as its leader. The mission and work inspired him to stay, he said.

He has launched several successful programs over the years. Among them are national furniture sales, which at their highest point reached $15 million in revenue and employed six blind or visually impaired associates. Lange also developed an inside sales training and process plan to employ blind and visually impaired associates.

“Watching individuals who previously had little career hope suddenly become passionate about things that could be was so unbelievably incredible,” he said. “And the best part is, there’s no stopping us. As technology advances and we start applying that technology, we can bring even more opportunity to the blind and visually impaired workforce.”

Presented by:

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Did you know?

CJ has been a performing musician, singer, and songwriter since age 15. He was also a founding member of a band for 15 years one that often played at some of the largest musical events in southeastern Wisconsin including Summerfest, Zoo Ala Carte and multiple Milwaukee-area festivals and was the opening act for Harley Davison’s 100th Anniversary Musical lineup in 2003! In his nearly 35+ years of performing and writing music, CJ also performed frequently with his father, the former President and CEO of IBVI, who is also a Grammy award winner!

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