In 2017, just 6 percent of Monroe County’s more than 57,000 disabled residents were employed, and of the nearly 20,000 total individuals unemployed in the county that year, some 19 percent were people with disabilities.
“We’re an integrated contract manufacturer that employs assembly operators and individuals with disabilities,” said ArcWorks’ business development manager Melissa Mayo. “Many people who come in to take a tour, I don’t know what their thoughts were in the past, but when they come in, the overall reaction is they’re shocked at our capabilities and they did not realize how big we actually are.”
Located at Canalside Business Center, ArcWorks serves as a pre-vocational workplace to help prepare people to gain employment readiness skills through a combination of classroom learning and paid work activities. The business offers packaging, assembly, kitting, order fulfillment and more.
Differing from sheltered workshops, which employ people with disabilities separately from others, ArcWorks is fully integrated, which means that it employs individuals with disabilities alongside those with no disabilities. And it works, quite well in fact.
“This is really key to any company that has any employees—the attendance of our individuals is 99.1 percent,” Mayo noted. “In most cases in an average factory the attendance is quite low. We’ve got people who actually look forward to coming to work every day.”
ArcWorks’ 100 workers who are clients of the Arc of Monroe get their pre-vocational services while working on products for other companies. ArcWorks employs another 55 staffers, which include assembly operators, said Mike Czora, ArcWorks’ general manager.
“We have about 90,000 square feet and four clean rooms,” Czora noted. “We have capacity. We’re pretty flexible when it comes to getting customers’’ products done and “we have quick turnaround. When it comes to pricing we’re probably a little more economical than some of the larger contract manufacturing houses.”
And those are a few of the reasons David Werner chose to move his fulfillment to ArcWorks.
“As an individual I believe it’s important to give back. As the CEO of a corporation I am so thrilled to be able to do it in the way that we’re doing it, partnering with ArcWorks to have them do our packaging and fulfillment,” said Werner, president of Third Eye Design Inc., a Pittsford designer of cutting-edge products for motorcycle safety.
Third Eye Design employs ArcWorks to take all of its individual components, fold the box and stuff it, store the assembled boxes and ship them to clients. The company moved its fulfillment from a Victor company to ArcWorks several months ago, Werner said.
“I think there are some other things that ArcWorks will be able to do for us and save us some money,” he added. “They have a ton of capability. We’re very pleased.”
Mayo said ArcWorks employees can provide anything from final packaging in electronics to building boxes and inserting products, as well as fulfillment. The organization is getting more involved in high-tech electronics, as well.
“We’re doing some mechanical. It’s electromechanical assemblies, where we heat sync with a transistor assembly soldering cables,” Mayo explained, adding that the organization also works with bottle manufacturers whose clients include laboratories and hospitals. “We’ll do some ultrasonic welding of various caps that go on laboratory bottles. We glue RFID tags to them and seal them, and that is so they can track it throughout a hospital or a clinic.”
While ArcWorks employees gain valuable skills, the agency’s customers gain more, Werner said.
“The first thing is a really overwhelming sense of personal satisfaction that I can give back to the community I grew up in and support people with disabilities. I just think that’s really important. I would make this move to do that,” he said. “The number two thing is they’re cost effective. That’s the icing on the cake. I think it’ll save us money at the same time. That’s a win/win for sure.”
And while technically the agreement between ArcWorks and its clients is a contract, Werner likes to think of it as a partnership.
“Because they’re just way more. When you think of a contract you think of I hire you to cut my lawn and you come and cut the lawn every week,” he explained. “And ArcWorks is an important part of our business in that they recommend improvements. They have a keen interest in how things are done. They look out for us in terms of ways to save money, better processes. So I really call them partners.”