Richard Hocking, materials manager at Worthington Cylinder Corp., has found an alternative to hiring permanent employeesa plus for him, especially since the tight labor market makes him struggle to fill positions.
Hocking sends parts shipments at least three days a week to the nonprofit Vision Center Industries in North Columbus, where employees who are blind, visually impaired or have some other disability assemble at least 6 million O-rings on valves a year for him.
In general, we view them as a low-cost alternativelow cost, high quality, Hocking says of the organization, which completes assembly, packaging, mailing and inspection jobs for local businesses.
And we do it because we just think its important to support them in the community, he adds, noting that Plant Manager James M. Knox serves on the Vision Centers board of directors.
Although Hocking hasnt conducted an internal study to see what the cost would be to hire workers of his own to install the parts, Vision Center Industries director Mark Richards says based on the number of workers he uses for Worthington Cylinder projects, Hocking might have to hire eight to 12 full-time employees to do the work.
In addition to overseeing projects like Hockings, Richards takes the uncertainty away from business owners trying to determine costs and time lines for production projects.
When using temps to do big projects, you have no idea how much the projects going to cost because you have no idea how productive theyre going to be, Richards says.
Richards can find the cost by taking samples of projects and conducting time studies to determine what quantity can be assembled or packaged, for example, in an hour by someone at a 100 percent productivity level. Then he bases the per-piece rate on the prevailing wage for entry-level assembly or packaging jobs in Central Ohio. Richards must guarantee a prevailing wage to his employees if theyre working at 100 percent productivity, but because he runs a sheltered workshop, he can pay a person less based on his or her productivity.
This allows me to employ people which perhaps a regular employer would not be able to afford to employ, he adds. Thats really what we are about: providing a work environment for folks who might not otherwise have a place to work.
Other projects done by Vision Center Industries include assembly work for Countryside Products, Volvo Parts North America and Mettler Toledo.
Joan Slattery Wall is a reporter for SBN.