PROACT NAMES GRILL, DISPLAY, LABEL AND PACKAGING COMPANIES AND YMCA PROGRAM AS EMPLOYERS OF THE YEAR
Eagan-based nonprofit chooses A-MAZE-N Products, Popco, Lofton Label and YMCA Kids Stuff program as exemplary employers and partners
Whether providing for employment opportunities or the chance to gain valuable work experience, ProAct’s 2016 “Employer of the Year” awards honor Twin Cities organizations that have helped the Eagan-based organization better the lives of people with disabilities in partnership with the Eagan-based nonprofit.
Honored at an annual recognition banquet in Oakdale were A-MAZE-N Products of Eagan, Popco of Minnetonka, Lofton Label of Inver Grove Heights, and the YMCA Kids Stuff program in Hastings.
“The value of what these companies do in bringing jobs and job experiences to the individuals with disabilities we serve cannot be overstated,” said ProAct President and CEO Steven Ditschler. “These partnerships are of mutual benefit and we are so pleased to recognize the 2016 award winners.”
Winners were chosen for four categories: Community Employer of the Year, Business Partner, Supported Employer of the Year and Vocational Partner. The designations align with several of ProAct’s services for people with disabilities.
The top Community Employer, A-MAZE-N Products, is a small business in Eagan led by owners Todd and Rhonda Johnson. Two individuals and a supervisor are there each day to package products for shipping. “Todd has set a standard at his business that everyone is treated like family,” said ProAct Employment Manager Heather Deutschlaender. Most of the products are used to add smoked flavor to grilled meats and the business holds weekly employee barbecue lunches to share food and flavors.
Receiving Business Partner recognition is Popco, a Minnetonka company that makes and distributes retail display components. Individuals work at ProAct in Eagan, attaching wire hooks or plastic clips to suction cups, and they work with adhesives and plastic buttons, explains ProAct Sales Manager Greg Pechman. “Popco is great to work with because of the type of work provided,” he said, noting that it can be performed by so many individuals.
The Supported Employer of the Year is Lofton Label, an Inver Grove Heights company that offers printed labels, flexible film, packaging and equipment. ProAct has enjoyed a 10-year relationship with the company and one individual from ProAct has been with the company for two years. He has been welcomed to the team, and had celebrations for major life events, explains Deutschlaender. “Lofton Label truly creates an environment that is naturally supportive,” she said.
For the fourth category, Vocational Partner, the Hastings YMCA and its “Kids Stuff” program were selected for special honor. The Y hosted work assessments or tryouts for ProAct individuals, and it embraced ProAct’s “person-centered” approach that focuses on quality of life, Deutschlaender said. “They are directly involved in each individual’s assessment process and treat everyone as if they are an employee of their organization.” Work experiences prepare people for future jobs. “The level of care and support from the YMCA has been outstanding,” she said.
Employers of the Year were recognized before a crowd of about 600 individuals, families and group home staff at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale. The event was emceed by KARE 11 reporter Karla Hult.
ProAct, Inc. is headquartered in Eagan and has additional operations in Red Wing, Zumbrota and in Hudson, Wis. Its mission is 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.