Even with the roar of hundreds of products being packaged, labeled and boxed enveloping him, it’s easy to hear Ford Shaw teeming with pride.
“As I tell people all the time: I wish I knew this was available when I was still in industry,” he said. “I mean that. … In 11 years there hasn’t been one job that we didn’t meet our commitment on.”
Shaw oversees the fulfillment operation at Employment Horizons, a nonprofit organization that employs more than 120 individuals with disabilities to complete local companies’ subcontracted jobs.
Not only will Shaw tell you that the group’s packaging and assembly work is top-notch, but he said these are employees who are late for work more rarely than any employee at firms he’s been with.
“And you have to remember that these individuals don’t even drive,” Shaw said. “So it makes all those excuses about car troubles you usually get sound silly.”
Shaw delivered his endorsements of the team at the Cedar Knolls facility, which consists of individuals with a variety of disabilities, as they were nearing completion of a 10-pallet packaging job well ahead of schedule.
The customer was Food Tek, a small business in the Whippany section of Hanover that makes food for the toy industry (much like the pouches of cake mix that would come with an Easy Bake Oven).
Food Tek began working with the fulfillment center at Employment Horizons about two years ago. The firm had a need for final packaging projects, to prepare products to be shipped directly to a distributor.
Larisa Perino, chief operating officer at Food Tek, said this work was typically done overseas. Then, about three years ago, Food Tek’s leaders convinced some toy companies that it could be done competitively in the U.S.
“One of the main reasons we began working with Employment Horizons is because we expanded faster than our location could support,” she said. “We genuinely shopped around, and among a group of pack-out facilities; Employment Horizons is the one we decided to work with.”
The reason? Perino cited the closeness of the location, the competitive pricing and the community involvement.