This piece produced by Anne Oberlander and originally appeared on Wells Fargo Stories – an online journal that brings the company to life by focusing on real stories “about how we help our customers succeed, help our communities thrive, and live Wells Fargo’s vision and values, every day.”
Most recent U.S. Census results show that nearly 57 million Americans live with a disability. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, less than 20 percent of adults with disabilities (ages 21-64) were employed in January 2017. This discrepancy is what makes the work of PRIDE Industries — and its goal to create paths to employment for people with disabilities — so important.
The California-based company, which was started by a group of parents in a church basement in 1966, is America’s largest nonprofit employer of people with disabilities. And over the past 50 years, the vision of those founding parents — to find employment opportunities for their adult children with disabilities — has become the hallmark of an organization that today employs 3,200 people with disabilities.
“All too often, people with disabilities have been marginalized and never given opportunities,” said Robin Yniguez, a case manager at PRIDE Industries. “My job is to work with people to identify their goals for the future and for employment, understand the barriers that they may have and how we as a team can come together to create accommodations so that they can become successfully employed in the community. It means the world to our clients to have a job.”
Employment equals self-esteem
Job assignments vary for PRIDE’s employees but can include custodial services, facility maintenance, manufacturing solutions, and supply chain management.
For Eric McCullough, who has had several jobs with PRIDE since 1984 and today works as a janitor at Sacramento International Airport, employment “gives me an opportunity to build up my self-esteem about who I am and allows me to work at a certain pace and socialize with the public.” (Watch his story in the three-minute video above.)
With thousands of employees and nearly $300 million in annual revenue, PRIDE relies on Wells Fargo for a working capital line of credit to help manage its daily business operations.
“PRIDE’s business is cash intensive, and a revolving line of credit is a great product to help it manage payroll, inventory requirements, and general operating expenses, while also giving the company the flexibility to reinvest for the future,” said Gary Harrigian, a regional portfolio manager with Wells Fargo Capital Finance. “Having worked with PRIDE since 2007, I’ve toured its facilities and witnessed the positive effect that employment has on people with disabilities and the opportunities it provides them to better their lives.”
Michael Ziegler, who has overseen the company as CEO since 1988, noted, “Companies get in trouble when they grow without the capital behind them to be able to afford their growth. Wells Fargo has been gracious in standing by us and supporting our mission.” He added, “And one thing about Wells Fargo, besides the banking relationship, it’s the people we work with at Wells Fargo, like Gary, who understand their part in our success. And when I say our success, I mean someone’s life gets changed — when somebody gets a job, somebody who typically doesn’t get a job, and they earn a paycheck, you’re talking about dignity, you’re talking about self-esteem.”
Contributors: Matt Wadley
PRIDE Industries is a social enterprise delivering business excellence to public and private organizations nationwide.