A-maze-ing Individuals

Block Number: 193

Ginger Todd


Foothills Industries of McDowell County, Inc. is a manufacturing and Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) company located in Marion, N.C. They have been in operation since 1972 when they began with 3 staff members serving approximately 35consumers.  Forty-four years later in 2016 they employ 50 employees serving over 155 consumers as a private, non profit operation.

The company’s Mission Statement is:  “Foothills Industries provides vocational and life-skills training and employment for persons with disabilities in order to maximize independence and employment while providing quality products at competitive costs and on-time delivery to our customers.”  There are many work levels the individual may be able to do depending on their abilities.

Through the decades, FI has expanded from its humble beginning in the old Glenwood School facility to a newly constructed building at Lukin Street which underwent several additions, improvements and accreditations over the years.  In 2005 they moved to a brand new 40,000 square foot facility at 300 Rockwell Drive in the county’s Industrial Park.  The recent addition of a quilt block to the building commemorates their 10th anniversary at this location. 

Foothills Industries maintains associations with like-minded companies. The entire operation of the facility is impressive and a tremendous asset to the McDowell County community by providing its services.

Individuals attend the program 9:00 AM-3:00 PM Monday through Friday.

The facility has an “Adult Day Vocational Program” which provides activities for individuals with developmental or physical disabilities in preparation for them to live and work as independently as possible in the community.  The programs include, but are not limited to, communication and motor skills, adult basic education, living and work skills training and paid employment.  Individuals have their choice of class, work or a combination of both from two three hour blocks.  There are two classrooms, a library, a break area and activity room in addition to offices and the extensive production sphere of work space.

“Day Support Services” is provided to a limited group of individuals focusing on enabling the individual to attain their maximum functional level.  This service assists with acquisition, attention to, or improvement in self-help, socialization and adaptive skills.


“Vocational Rehabilitation” partners with FI and is operated under the Department of Health and Human Services and is an independent agency of the state of North Carolina.  The purpose of this agency is “to work with individuals who have a disability which prevents their employment and helps persons overcome barriers to employment and find a job.”  In some cases a job coach may be provided to assist with on the job training.

There are four main areas of manufacturing Foothills Industries is involved in:  custom medical drapes, salvage, assembly and packaging.  Below are examples:

A large portion of production at Foothills is the production of “medical drapes”, something every hospital utilizes.   These custom drapes are cut from a roll of special material, a machine then cuts a hole in a specific area and size to accommodate the exact area where a surgeon will operate.  They are manufactured in a controlled environment then bundled for shipment.

One part of their “salvage program” includes recycling a local industry’s IV bags.  The tips are cut off and the bags processed.  They are then packaged and placed on pallets for salvage pickup, some of which are used in making recycled products. 

Another local industry provides materials for a portion of the “assembly” area of the facility.  The workers assemble small components with the use of templates to construct specific models and designs for furniture. 

At times, FI assists other companies in re-work activities.

The 62” by 62” block entitled “A-maze-ing Individuals” was mounted by volunteers Mike Lucas, Jack Raker and Alan Sholl on the main front entrance of the Joy Q. Shuford building which houses FI.  The block is a colorful display of a maze, representing who they are and what they do at Foothills Industries.

The upper left hand corner of the block is a red puzzle piece representing autism and the upper right hand is a symbol of a forklift/hand truck representing the manufacturing portion of the business. The lower left hand corner displays a wheel chair in a portion of a heart.  The lower right corner is a heart with one missing puzzle piece – the upper left corner which fits perfectly completing the portrayal of love and caring for any and all individuals. All paths in the maze result in a successful completion of the journey.

Donnita Silver, Director of Rehabilitation Services and Administrative Assistant, stated “We wanted a unique block to represent a part of what we ALL do here at Foothills Industries.  We created a block in support of our Mission Statement and to also represent our outstanding teamwork and the A-MAZE-ING individuals here.  All clients, staff and employees love it as it’s a small representation of who we are and what we do here at FI.  Everyone gathered together outside to view the new quilt block and to pose for pictures. It was a fun day for all.”

Jill Lucas presented the Certificate of Certification to Board Members Greg Decker, Patsy Ballew, Jewell McNeal, Joy Shuford and Sara Bright, as well as Donnita Silver of FI.  Steve Early, Chief Executive Officer was not available for the photo.

Also attending the installation were Blanch Waugh and Nancy Moore of FI.  Steve Bush, Executive Director of the McDowell Chamber of Commerce and Amanda Collins, Office Manager of the Chamber were also in attendance. Steve Bush gave a short speech recognizing the importance of Foothills Industries and its services. He also complimented the McDowell Quilt Trail for its continued work throughout the county.

Refreshments were provided to all attending, including a decorated cake featuring Foothills Industries’  “A-maze-ing Individuals”.

For further information on the McDowell Quilt Trail visit www.mcdowellquilttrail.org or call Mike Lucas at 828-443-6476

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