Pine Ridge Industries brings National Disability Employment Awareness Month centerstage

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Pine Ridge Industries

Employees at Pine Ridge Industries in Scotia assembling kits for Vista Labs.

SCOTIA, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The unemployment rate among the disabled population was twice the rate of those who are not disabled in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Mandsager, said providing support for the working disabled is an integral part of what makes Pine Ridge Industries successful.

Approximately 80% of the Pine Ridge Industries workforce has a disability. With a variety of disabilities, most receive additional support from the Schenectady ARC or success coaches. The goal of Pine Ridge is to provide meaningful work for a population of employees who may not otherwise have the opportunity to do so, Mandsager said.

For some people like Derek Gallo who has been with the company for three years, Pine Ridge Industries is a starting point for future employment outside the facility he said. For others like Vera Bergen it’s been a stable source of employment for 27 years.

Derek Gallo said he wants to eventually transition to a job outside of Pine Ridge Industries and would like to work with reptiles.

Pine Ridge Industries is getting back to having a full staff at the facility after the coronavirus kept some employees from working. It’s not because of lack of work said Mandsager, it’s been the opposite. Orders from VistaLab Technologies Inc., who provide the majority of work for Pine Ridge’s employees, did not slack when the state was on Pause.

Rather some employees were unable to come to work due to various difficulties including health and/or transportation. Those that could work were asked to increase their hours in order to fulfill order demand.

We have used ARC’s to do some of our work for many years. When the state started to change the rules regarding handicapped workshops several years ago, we were forced to locate another supplier that had adapted to the state’s new requirements. Pine Ridge Industries had made the decision to move forward and adapt that would allow them to do our type of work while still employing the clients that they serve. It was a win win as we were able to locate a supplier to perform our work and they were able to keep their clients employed. 

Joe Lindsay
Director of Operations
VistaLab Technologies Inc.
It’s Jeffrey Younes’ second year being reemployed at Pine Ridge. He had been previously employed at the facility and volunteered in the administration offices for 12 years prior to being rehired.

Betty Yamin has worked at Pine Ridge Industries for three decades. She said she enjoys the work she does and likes being able to have a paycheck so she can buy toys and other items for her cat of three years, Gray. Likewise, Tia Keone, who has worked at the company for a year said she’s also happy to be able to get a paycheck.

Betty Yamin said she enjoys working at Pine Ridge and being able to have money to spend on her cat, Gray.
Tia Keone said she’s happy working in one of two clean rooms at Pine Ridge Industries.

Interview with Pine Ridge Industries employees

Latifia King

Vera Bergen

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