Jafe Decorating Promotes Culture of Inclusion

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“You want to develop a culture of inclusivity, and everybody’s accepted, and we are all part of this Jafe family.”

Randy O’Dell, President at Jafe Decorating Inc., shared that this culture was solidified when Jafe began hiring people with developmental disabilities and is being spread out into the small-town community of Greenville, Ohio, where the company is located. Jafe is a glass decorating company that has recently grown to produce 20 million pieces of glass each year, ranging from smaller projects to large contracts with companies such as Bath & Body Works. As the company grew, so did the opportunities to hire people with developmental disabilities.

In the early 2000s, Jafe worked with the local adult day service to get help with sorting some of their products, and that opened their minds to working with people with developmental disabilities. Then in 2014, Capabilities, a private organization that pairs people with disabilities with employment opportunities, asked if Jafe would have a person come work for at the company. Jafe splits up their workforce into small teams, and after only a week, the team working with this employee showed strong signs of comradery.

The company now employs seven employees with developmental disabilities. The main job these employees do is loading glassware onto the conveyor to be painted. We talked to Morgan, Jenna, and Brandon about their experience as employees at Jafe.

Morgan has been working for Jafe for five years and, in addition to loading, can also prescreen the glass for damaged pieces and can remember the exact number. His favorite part of the job is “hearing the sounds of the machines” and seeing how they work. Jenna has been working at Jafe since she was in high school, and it was her first job. She likes that she can make money for herself. Brandon began working at Jafe as part of his community-based assessment program and then was able to take on more hours. He shared that he likes everyone that works there and how everything goes through the painting process.

One father also shared what it means to him that his son, who receives county board services, can work at the same place as him. “This company has been great, and they value him very much. It teaches him responsibility. I love Jafe.”

Plant Manager, Ed Orazen, shared, “It’s just the same as your standard employee; you have to find positions that fit them just like we always do; we try to set up our teams based on common personalities” Plant Manager Ed Orazen was pleasantly surprised to see how well it worked out.

Jafe has found support from parents, the county boards, and using community-based assessment tools to be successful in hiring people with developmental disabilities. They encourage other employers to take the leap and hire more employees with disabilities. It didn’t happen overnight for Jafe, but over time they were able to adapt, grow, and support more employees with developmental disabilities.

Ed summarized it this way, “It affects a huge amount of people. Me, number one, our employees with disabilities and the other employees, the outside community, the parents, and the local high school, it’s not just one person coming in and then leaving. You are impacting a whole community.”