In the mid-1960s, a group of parents and community members found the need to have an employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities. The process began to find a facility and means for the mission. A building was secured on 10th Street and a thrift store was opened. This allowed the few original employees a means of employment.
As time went on and the need grew, the decision was made to incorporate as a nonprofit company. On September 23, 1966, the corporate charter for The Sheltered Workshop of St. Joseph was granted. As told by an inaugural board member, the original Board of Directors was primarily called on when there was a financial need. This same board member recalls one of the first "big" jobs was packaging a product for Wire Rope Co. to be distributed in Sears.
In the early 1970s, the Workshop moved into a building on North 3rd Street. Local people will remember this as the Noma Lights building. The Workshop began to grow and add employees and staff at this new location.
In the early 1990s, the Board of Directors realized a need to have a new facility. In 1992, with Gloria Thomas as the President/CEO, the facility moved to its present location at 3801 South Leonard Road, and the name was changed to Specialty Industries of St. Joseph, Inc. At this location, the company has continued to grow. Additions to the original warehouse were built in 2002 and 2012.
Specialty Industries currently employs more than 90 individuals with disabilities with a staff and management of 14 in a 92,200 square foot facility. We offer contract packaging services including assembly, labeling, sleeving, packaging, shrink-wrapping, inspection, and rework. Specialty Industries strives to lead the effort to promote a better understanding of the capabilities and employability of individuals with disabilities while being a premier manufacturing partner in our community.
It is important to note that the mission stated in the original charter in 1966 is the very same mission we state today. Our staff and management along with the support of our 18-member volunteer Board of Directors will continue to lead this company with a focus on our mission to provide meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities.