Restaurants partnered with disability nonprofit to employ people;
IMV manufactures livestock insemination products assembled and packaged
by individuals at ProAct in Eagan

A well-known hamburger and frozen custard restaurant and a livestock industry medical supplier were named for ProAct’s 2017 “Employer of the Year” awards. Both are strong partners that have helped the Eagan-based nonprofit better the lives of people with disabilities.

Culver's Employer of the Year

Honored at an annual recognition banquet in Oakdale were Culver’s restaurants in Eagan, Rosemount and West. St. Paul, and IMV Technologies in Maple Grove.

“Work is something that brings dignity and satisfaction to the individual, and I cannot stress strongly enough that employers are crucial to the success of the people we serve,” said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “We are grateful for the efforts of the 2017 award winners, and truly value their partnership with us.”

Winners were chosen for two Employer of the Year categories: Community Employer and Business Partner. The designations align with several of ProAct’s services for people with disabilities.

The top Community Employer, Culver’s, has franchises operated by the Laudenbach family. It was a prime supporter of the “customized employment” model that matches the skills of job seekers with the needs of the business, said ProAct Employment Manager Heather Deutschlaender. Culver’s also offers many natural supports, or help coming alongside individuals in the workplace, which increases each person’s independence, she explains.

Franchise owner Matt Laudenbach said the impact of the programs ProAct offers has been life changing and that Culver’s fully supports their growth. “Working with groups like ProAct to have their team members join our family business has given us way more than we have given them,” he said. “I am confident that the true effect reaches well beyond the walls of the restaurant to our whole community.”

Receiving Business Partner recognition is IMV Technologies, and its operation in Maple Grove. The French firm produces straws that are used for livestock insemination, and these are assembled and packaged by individuals at ProAct in Eagan. Looking back to the original product, the “French Straw” that was iIMV Technologiesnvented by IMV in 1963, ProAct Business Services Manager Mary McGeheran said the company’s success has allowed dedicated and talented individuals from ProAct to help produce more than a quarter-million products in the past year for farmers and breeders. “They have provided tens of thousands of hours of work to our greatest resource here, the individuals we serve,” said McGeheran.

Eric Salonen, who serves in supply chain and operations with IMV, said individuals with ProAct take great pride in handling the company’s materials. “They know it’s involved with biologicals and animals, and that it’s a clean environment,” he said. Branded insemination straws are sold to another company which then fills and freezes them before sending them out to farmers. ProAct has helped to make the operation more efficient, he explained.

McGeheran said IMV’s mission and values speak to, and align beautifully with ProAct and its mission to provide person-centered services that enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities in the areas of employment, life skills and community inclusion.
Employers of the Year were recognized before a crowd of about 500 individuals, families and group home staff at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale. A special address was given by Dakota County Commissioner Tom Egan, who has a long history of service to the Eagan community, where ProAct has had a facility for more than 20 years.

ProAct, Inc. is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis.

Photos: Culver’s Assistant Manager Zaide Lopez, left, and General Manager Marvin Martinez are congratulated by ProAct Employment Manager Heather Deutschlaender. Eric Salonen, in supply chain and operations with IMV Technologies (Maple Grove), is congratulated by Mary McGeheran, ProAct business services manager.

For further information, contact:
Kim Feller, ProAct, Inc., 651-289-3144,
Aaron Hustedde, The Wallace Group, 651-452-9800