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Employee Bryan Hannah finishes an order of Sunny Bunny Easter eggs, an e-commerce project added last year to supplement traditional subcontractor jobs for Springfield Workshop.
Employee Bryan Hannah finishes an order of Sunny Bunny Easter eggs, an e-commerce project added last year to supplement traditional subcontractor jobs for Springfield Workshop.

Business Spotlight: Creatively on Mission

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A nonprofit is making its business mission more creative to achieve its social mission.
Springfield Workshop Inc. works to form relationships with area businesses to provide job opportunities to the more than 230 people with disabilities it serves.

“Most of the people who work here have an intellectual disability,” says Chuck Bailey, general manager of the 43-year-old Springfield Workshop and Polk County Industrial Solutions. “That could be a mental disability, mental retardation or autism. Our social mission is to provide meaningful employment for people with disabilities.”

Springfield Workshop and Polk County Industrial Solutions joined when the forerunner of the Bolivar-based sheltered workshop, Enterprises Unlimited, approached Springfield Workshop.

Springfield Workshop acquired the assets of Enterprises Unlimited for $89,000 on July 31, when Enterprises Unlimited ceased operations. Assets included some packaging equipment, forklifts, vehicles and trailers. Springfield Workshop, doing business as Polk County Industrial Solutions, plans to open a satellite location this month at 4450 Airport Drive in Bolivar under a four-year lease with the city for $1 a year.

Customers historically served from Springfield Workshop’s 75,000-square-foot plant, 2385 W. Bennett St., include 3M, Reckitt Benckiser, Smurfit Stone Container, Kraft, Pepsi and Redneck Trailer. Services include labeling; corrugated lamination; light assembly; shrink wrapping and folding; collating and packaging; assembly of marketing displays; custom packaging; facility; quality assurance; and transportation.

“The way we accomplish our social mission is via our business mission – our business mission is to satisfy our external customers, people who we basically do work for,” Bailey says.

Working to become more creative in its business mission, Bailey says, has led the workshop to target three areas: diversifying subcontracting revenues; continuing a series of microbusinesses; and launching the Springfield Workshop Foundation.

“For organizations like ours that offer sheltered employment, the traditional business model has been just to go out to other local businesses and do jobs for them,” Bailey says.

Led by its board of directors, Springfield Workshop has taken it upon itself to create microbusinesses, such as its Sunny Bunny Easter Eggs program. In January 2009, the workshop began selling plastic eggs assembled and stuffed by its workers and sold on its e-commerce site, www.sunnybunnyeastereggs.com. In October, the company will launch another e-commerce site to feature college student care packages prepared by workshop employees.

The microbusinesses, Bailey says, are a way to capture and grow new revenue streams at a time when orders from manufacturers have slowed.

Bailey says Sunny Bunny didn’t create a spike in 2009 revenues, which came in flat at $3.3 million, but instead helped replace some of the company’s subcontractors’ declines. Sunny Bunny generated $195,000 in sales in 2009 and 408,000 in 2010. Subcontractor revenue in 2009 was $1.75 million, Bailey says.

“Sunny Bunny was timely because most people experienced declines in revenue in 2008,” Bailey says. “It kept us from going backwards. That’s why we’re trying to leverage these microbusinesses.”

Bailey sought help on the Sunny Bunny project from the Drury University Students in Free Enterprise team. Josh Jones, former Drury SIFE director, says when Bailey approached him about the college care packages, he was eager to assist.

“It was a spectacular idea,” says Jones, who earned his MBA from Drury on Aug. 14. “I signed on and said we’d love to help out.”

From February through school year-end, Jones says, the SIFE team has played a significant role including naming, branding, packaging, determining contents and themes for the packages. Production and sales of the care packages will begin in October.

Also in 2009, the Springfield Workshop Foundation was formed and held a Kentucky Derby Gala sponsored by Empire Bank and Central Trust and Investment Co. and a golf tournament sponsored by Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. The events raised nearly $150,000 for the workshop, Bailey says.[[In-content Ad]]

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