Sheltered Workshops of the Meramec Valley and Sheltered Workshops Inc. have decided to affiliate their operations to maximize potential growth and services.

Both organizations share the same vision — delivering exceptional results to their manufacturing partners, while providing meaningful employment to individuals with disabilities.

Empac Group Inc. is the new corporation under which both locations will operate.

“Our leadership team made the decision to adopt a completely new operating name to indicate our partnership in the joint venture,” said Bob Koch, CEO of Sheltered Workshops Inc. (SWI).

“Our mission is to develop and provide alternative employment and vocational training options for people with disabilities. The name Empac Group Inc. represents the impact we intend to make as a high-quality, reliable industrial resource for area businesses, as well as an effective employment resource for people with disabilities in Franklin County and the surrounding area,” he said.

“Our tagline, ‘Employ. Empower, Excel,’ describes how we will interact with our business customers and our employees,” Koch added.

The affiliation will expand current vocational opportunities for persons with disabilities beyond the workshops to now also include employment in community businesses.

“Currently individuals with disabilities who are seeking employment have limited options,” said Eric Giebler, CEO of Sheltered Workshops of Meramec Valley (SIMV).

“We will now have the capacity to be proactive in assisting individuals find jobs in the community as a whole,” he said. “We believe our history of success, coupled with our community contacts, positions us to be highly effective in achieving our mission.”

SIMV has been located in Sullivan for over 20 years with a focus on packaging and assembly. The business has it own fleet of delivery trucks to help meet the logistical needs of customers.

Additionally, SIMV was the first packaging and assembly facility of its kind in the state of Missouri to have its quality processes certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO). As a result, it is known for consistent, high-quality and punctual delivery.

“ISO certification has pushed us to improve our already effective quality assurance services,” Giebler said. “We have been able to maximize efficiency while providing flexible production operations, customized to the specifications of the customer.”

The results are consistent quality processes that are utilized on every project, he said.

“Affiliating ourselves with Sheltered Workshops Inc. expands that capability even further, allowing us to take on larger projects and ultimately create more jobs — our mission,” he said.

“We are fortunate to have the support of Developmental Services of Franklin County in the facilitation process,” he added. “The interaction and support of the various disability organizations throughout the county has been instrumental in streamlining the project.”

SWI is located in Washington. It was developed in 1967 after a county survey found an overwhelming need for a sheltered workshop.

Koch currently serves as president of the Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers.

“We believe that in this increasingly competitive marketplace, innovation and entrepreneurial endeavors are essential,” he said. “Our affiliation with SIMV will create more capacity, enhance services and diversify revenue,” he said. “The impact of our affiliation is twofold. Because we can offer more services to our business customers, we will create more jobs. Additional jobs will allow us to more effectively address the large waiting list of individuals seeking employment and training.”