A Publication of WTVP

All of Peoria Production Shop’s revenue comes from the sale of services and goods to its customers. For a nonprofit in the social service realm, that’s a unique business model.

“We are a social service agency, and we are a not-for-profit organization, but we don’t follow those normal models of operation,” explains Richard Peplow, CEO and president. “Since we are dealing in the business environment, we have to run ourselves as a business, not so much as a social agency.” The framework is necessary, he says, in order to stay competitive when manufacturers and suppliers are demanding ever-higher expectations of quality and on-time delivery.

In operation for more than 70 years, Peoria Production Shop’s 130,000-square-foot Peoria facility handles a variety of packaging and assembly operations. “We’re finding manufacturers being more and more receptive to outsourcing different types of their work to organizations [like us] when it doesn’t fit into the streamline of their manufacturing process,” he explains.

With a reputation for reliability and responsiveness, the company’s 120 employees—a broad range of individuals with limitations from vision and hearing impairments to developmental and learning disabilities, physical injuries, autism and Asperger’s—are placed in positions where each person can excel at the job.

“We think of the Peoria Production Shop as a career or lifetime employer. We’re going to teach them and help them develop skills that they will stay here to use, and we will utilize the talents internally as opposed to placing them out in the community,” Peplow says. Most important, he stresses, is the focus on employees’ capabilities, not their disabilities.

As a light industrial operation with the heart of a nonprofit organization, the company lives by its mission to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Living by that motto means valuing quality and productivity with its business customers.

“The thing that people with disabilities want more than anything is to be treated like everybody else, and to have the same expectations,” adds Peplow. “It’s a great source of pride to be able to deliver, to be able to conform and to be able to do what our customers want, and to go beyond their expectations to be providing the exceptional.” iBi

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