Guest Author - Jeanetta Polenske
So one day, John Thorn reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a tangled mess of computer cords. He makes the decision to invent something to organize and manage different cords and cables. He then designs a coil cord case and starts a company called Coil, LLC.
It is certainly a novel idea, but what makes this an extraordinary story is how he put his company together. He was encouraged to manufacture overseas to increase his profitability, but instead, Mr. Thorn decided to gather investors and use local businesses to make his product in his home state of Wyoming.
Furthermore, he wanted to produce a good quality, long-lasting product that could be made and packaged with as little impact on the environment as possible. He also desired to provide jobs and develop a fair and pleasant working environment.
Oh, there is more. Mr. Thorn is a psychologist who had worked with the disabled community for many years. His experience reminded him that job options for the disabled were very limited, so he contacted Community Entry Services (CES), an entity that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries.
The effort between Coil and CES created a situation where people with disabilities could be trained for a skill, work as part of a team and receive pay. It has been a boon for those in a rural setting who would otherwise have very little opportunity to find jobs.
The company has found that hiring the disabled has been a very positive experience. The employees are happy, proud of their work and enjoy being part of decisions about different aspects of the business. Their training manager enjoys helping the team meet new challenges. The mood is cheerful and productivity is highly efficient.
The benefits of this undertaking are tremendous. The Wyoming Women’s Business Center (WWBC) provided the operating capital and technical assistance to Mr. Thorn through its microloan program. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program (RMAP) provided the loan and technical assistance grant to the WWBC. The Wyoming Small Business Development Center instructed Mr. Thorn in marketing strategies.
Legacy Molding of Riverton, Wyoming helped work on the prototypes of Coil. They aided with space for inventory and with making shipping more efficient. And they have been very supportive about the idea of having workers from CES assemble Coil on their premises.
The entire crew has been impressed with the addition of the disabled workers to their team. They believe that the partnership benefits everyone involved. The entire project has been lauded by the USDA Rural Development State Department as an example of what can be accomplished with the cooperation of local interests.
There is no doubt that this enterprise represents the best of all scenarios. The success of the project has supported the State of Wyoming, local businesses and will impact people with disabilities for all future endeavors. The positive results portend success for all on so many levels.