Gear that Gives Back
We’re proud to partner with Communitas, a not-for-profit in our own backyard that serves young people with special needs.
Since Day 1, we’ve employed youth with special needs to assemble our products. When I first started VSSL, I knew we’d need to build up a workforce if we intended to create unique products with multiple parts from several manufacturers, and many sources, from around the globe. We’d have to funnel everything into one facility and assemble final products here for this to work.
Some wise, successful friends and advisors warned against taking the “risky” step of building such a key part of our infrastructure using people with unique, and often very challenging, mental health issues. But our Operations Manager, Nathan Bosch, has a heart of gold and felt that he was up to the challenge.
I thought that if we didn’t start doing it from day 1, it would be much harder to do later. I’ve also strongly felt that, if we were going to start a company, I wanted to give back to our community in some meaningful way. I didn’t want to “wait” till we were profitable or put it off until we had streamlined other areas of our operation. I wanted giving back to be part of our company’s DNA, even if it meant some personal growth issues over and above what start-up businesses usually encounter.
But luckily, we have an incredible group of folks here who felt the same as me. And now, over 5 years later, we’re proud of the fact that we’ve always had young adults with special needs assembling and packaging our products. And we continue to grow this initiative as we grow as a company. These guys have a very hard time finding steady employment because of their unique situations. They can often have a hard time fitting into most work environments and schedules, whereas we’ve adapted our processes, workflow and schedules to accommodate them.
We’ve never really been vocal about this. I just wanted it to be something we did, not something we talked about. But recently a friend of mine shared a different perspective. His feeling was that if we shared our story, and how well it works for us, more businesses would be willing to look at doing the same!
On a personal note, I also get something more out of it. Like anyone else, I can have bad days. But when I come into VSSL HQ and see these incredible people putting in meaningful hours, it’s hard not to smile. Their challenges are far greater than I’ll ever understand. But they like being here, and they’re proud of what they do. And if we can add at least a fraction of joy into their lives, that makes it worthwhile.