“The most impactful thing I’ve done in my career”

Apr 05, 2018 No Comments by

Dru Laws, senior vice president at Seljan Company in Wisconsin, is a strong advocate for tapping into talent pools that are often overlooked or dismissed.

Addressing fellow industry executives at last week’s national meeting of the Association of Rotational Molders, Dru shared his company’s success partnering with Alliance member Diversified Personnel Services at Opportunities, Inc. to train and hire people with disabilities, and employing workers from a local correctional facility.

Seljan’s first candidate from Opportunities, Inc. was an individual with mental disabilities who worked for 12 weeks, supported by a coach. Seljan hired him at the end of this period, and he’s now a key person in their injection molding department. To date, the company has hired 8 full-time workers with disabilities in injection molding, rotomolding and metal fabrication in an industry that, like many manufacturing firms, struggles to find good employees. Seljan’s turnover rate for employees with disabilities is zero; none have left since being hired.

Dru described Seljan’s similarly positive experience employing a crew of 6 to 8 inmates from a local correctional facility who are paid a normal full-time wage and transported to and from the factory each day. As Dru noted, “they never come late and they never leave early,” adding that they love the opportunity to be there and be productive.

Janet Van Liere from the Alliance addressed the group as well, reporting that Seljan’s experience is not at all unique and sharing evidence from a wide range of companies and studies that support the business case for hiring people with disabilities and people with criminal records. Janet encouraged the audience of business leaders to champion hiring people of all backgrounds and to use alternative staffing firms and other workforce intermediaries to help their companies find and support qualified candidates.

For Dru, giving overlooked job seekers a chance and helping his own company at the same time is special and “probably the most impactful thing I’ve done in my career.” And as the father of a son with Down Syndrome, Dru’s experience expanding employment opportunities at Seljan gives him hope that his son will find gainful employment and success in the future.

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