SCOTIA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Capital Region soap making company was facing what you might call a “good problem.” RAD Soap was growing so fast that they needed help shipping out their products. But during the pandemic, they had a tough time finding employees.
The family-run company is well known for giving back to the community, and they decided to strike up a unique partnership with Pine Ridge Industries, which allows them to grow while providing opportunities for people with disabilities.
They shared their story with NEWS10’s Anya Tucker.
Zak Gabriel works for Pine Ridge Industries, which is under the umbrella of Schenectady ARC. They connect people with disabilities with workplace opportunities.
“They care about people with disabilities. It’s like they are family to them,” said Zak.
Sue Kerber understands the struggles employees like Zak can face while seeking meaningful employment.
“I have a daughter with Down Syndrome, and it’s just nice to have an opportunity for them to feel like an equal. Feel like they have jobs out there in society and the community and feel that they support them,” she said.
Sue has also overcome her own struggles. Years ago she fought to rebound from a financial setback and founded RAD Soap.
The company now has a retail shop in the Capital Region at Stuyvesant Plaza and a contract with Whole Foods.
The connection with Pine Ridge Industries happened back in July when she connected with their Chief Operating Officer Nathan Mandsager during a networking conference on Zoom.
“We were looking for more business partners and turns out RAD Soap was looking for a good fulfillment center,” he recalled.
Sue added that it was an opportunity to give back to the community.
“And when it was the disabled, I loved it. It was just like a marriage.”
For three months now, Pine Ridge Industries and their employees have handled all of RAD Soap’s fulfillment and shipping needs at their facility in Scotia.
Sue recommends Pine Ridge to other business owners.
“It’s a great opportunity for any business that is really struggling with employees and how they can hire. And that was our struggle. It’s a great thing because they know what they are doing here. They really do, and it’s a great collaboration.”
“And we know the people that we employ here often times can be the missing link and can fill that need,” added Nathan.