Warehouse Finds Success by Partnering with Disabled Workers Association
by Kimberly Noetzel
Charter has found a successful partnership with an organization out of southern Minnesota called Ability Building Center (ABC) – an organization that serves adults with disabilities to work in the community.
Brad Oberle, Supply Chain Hub leader, was looking for a way to create operational efficiencies during the All-Digital project in June 2014. His goal was to free up full time employees from repetitive work so they could focus on higher priority tasks. Hiring temporary employees was one way to do that, but finding good temporary help proved to be a challenge. Brad started brainstorming and decided to call on ABC to see if their services matched Charter’s needs.
When ABC Business Developer, Jeff Walthers received the call, he was excited to get ABC program participants placed with Charter because the type of work performed in a warehouse is so different from the typical opportunities presented to the participants. “The environment at Charter is very attractive. A lot of our participants have never been to a warehouse and they are fascinated by the hustle and bustle,” says Walther.
Participants work on tasks that best fits their abilities. During Charter’s All-Digital project they sorted cable cords and put stickers on digital receivers. Currently, participants are focused on cleaning digital receivers, checking for dents and getting the boxes ready to go out to customers.
Both Walther and Oberle agree that starting out is not always an easy transition – and that a commitment is required from each organization. “It was a bit of a rough start,” said Oberle, “Not everyone knew how to communicate with each other or how to handle situations that occasionally came up. We also needed to get the right participants in place and had to figure out how to work best together.” And that is exactly what happened.
Walther noted the employees at Charter have been very supportive and helpful. The staff and management have gone out of their way to make sure ABC participants get what they need to be successful – such as setting up visual boards and adding tables to their workspace. “Not every day is the same and it can be challenging, but Charter has worked with us beautifully. Charter is an everyday household name which is exciting to our participants. They get to wear lanyards with their picture on it and have a name badge; and that is a big deal to them. It makes them proud to show their badge and share that they work for this well-known company,” said Walthers.
The partnership creates an engaging environment for ABC participants, like Andy Goodman, who love coming to work each day. “I like working for Charter and I like vacuuming the boxes. They come from all over and I get to clean them up.” says Goodman. “I made some friends here too, like Jim (Glocke, warehouse technician) He’s a good guy and makes me laugh.”
The partnership Charter and ABC created is one that Oberle plans to continue. “It’s a good feeling to know Charter is providing a place for disabled workers. ABC program participants have become a part of the Charter family and we are grateful for their assistance,” Oberle concluded.