Supported Employment Program Success Story: Sumitomo Drive Technologies

A group of people in a warehouse look at a large yellow pad on a table

Richard Dean adores the truck he bought with the money he saved working a full-time job at Sumitomo Drive Technologies.

The Chesapeake manufacturing plant benefits from a model employee who’s earned a promotion.

The partnership is a win-win-win for Dean, Sumitumo and VersAbility Resources, which offers a successful Supported Employment Program to help regional businesses thrive while providing long-term jobs in community settings for people with disabilities.

Thanks to this program, Dean was hired more than five years ago to break down materials and sort them for recycling. Much of the work requires a series of repetitive tasks.

“He’s been great,” said Mike Lulofs, Human Resources Director at Sumitomo. “He stays focused. He’s always here. He blossomed when he got here.”

In fact, Dean has been such an exemplary employee that Sumitomo recently hired two additional part-timers with disabilities referred by VersAbility Resources.

Employment Specialists from VersAbility  provide ongoing support  services, including periodic counseling, phone calls to the employer and the employee, and continued on-site training as needed to ensure both a smooth beginning  and a successful lasting relationship.

“The support mechanisms they have in place are a really key component to making this work,” Lulofs said. “You’ve got ongoing support from the folks at VersAbility Resources so you know if there is an issue or concern, you have a contact or connection who can help.”

Dean’s job responsibilities as a material handler expanded when a promotion earned him a position as part of Sumitomo’s maintenance group. He now operates a forklift and drives the ride-on floor scrubber. He’s also a contributor in other meaningful ways, specifically as part of the internal employee activity committee. A few years ago, his efforts led to a holiday fundraiser that raised more than $4,500 for a Portsmouth-based veterans organization. It’s a cause close to Dean’s heart as he is a disabled veteran himself.

“Richard was instrumental in hooking us up with that particular group,” Lulofs said. “It’s great to have him around. He takes a lot of pride in what he does for us every day.”

The team at VersÅbility Resources is constantly exploring options for new Supported Employment business partners. Contact us for more information.

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