Honda Supplier Offers Employment Opportunities for Developmentally Disabled

A Honda supplier that serves all manufacturing operations in North America is making a big difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

UCO Industries, a tier one Honda supplier in Marysville, Ohio, provides light assembly of 1.5 million vehicle owner’s manuals kits and 400,000 license plate kits per year. Associates assemble and ship the kits and/or parts to every assembly plant in North America.

What makes this company unique is that 75 of the company’s 130 employees have some form of developmental disability.

A not-for-profit corporation, UCO has served Honda since 1990 and Honda remains its largest customer. The 72,000-square-foot facility includes space for production, shipping, warehousing and receiving. UCO also provides assembly for several other customers as well as operating a document destruction service.

Honda is not only a strong supporter of UCO, but has also had a representative on its board of directors for 27 years.

“Honda is proud to do business with UCO Industries, which not only delivers high-quality products, but provides people with disabilities an opportunity for meaningful employment,” said Brett Crawford, manager, Honda North American Automotive Purchasing interiors team. “Working with suppliers that support our community aligns well with the Honda philosophy of being a company society wants to exist.”

UCO’s mission is to provide paid employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in a fully-integrated setting, said CEO Dave Amerine, who is very passionate about integration for people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities used to be segregated,” said Amerine. “But here, they work side-by-side with people who don’t have disabilities.”

He says integration is a key part of ensuring people with disabilities have the highest possible quality of life and, for most people, that means paid employment. “This is not busy work,” says Amerine. “Our folks come to work so we can provide a meaningful service to our customers and are proud to be here.”

Although it is a not-for-profit enterprise, Amerine emphasized that UCO has a strict quality control process and “our philosophy is truly business-focused.”

One challenge for people with disabilities in employment is saving money because they stand to lose Medicaid or Social Security benefits if they have more than $2,000 in savings, Amerine said.

That’s why UCO became the first company in the U.S. to offer a 4% contribution into what’s called a “STABLE” account, which allows people with disabilities to save up to $15,000 per year without losing their federal benefits.

The STABLE investment accounts, made possible through a federal law in 2014 and state law in 2015, have allowed UCO to offer employees with disabilities similar benefits as those who are eligible for traditional 401Ks. They also offer all their associates paid time off.

UCO partners with the Columbus Center for Human Services (CCHS) to provide comprehensive support services for adults with developmental disabilities, in order for associates to maintain employment. Some associates can drive a car, others can’t. Some can only work six-hour shifts and others need an aide to assist them with their daily tasks at work.

“Work enhances quality of life and we’re very proud to be able to provide that,” says Amerine.

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