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LA CROSSE, Wis. — Kwik Trip Inc. received an Exemplary Employer Award from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) on Wednesday, according to media reports. DWD Secretary Reggie Newson presented the award to Kwik Trip CEO Don Zietlow.
The awards are granted as part of Disability Employment Month and Gov. Scott Walker's declaration of 2014 as the year of "A Better Bottom Line: Employment Opportunities for People With Disabilities," according to Newson.
"Kwik Trip is one of our best employers in the state of Wisconsin," Newson said. "They provide opportunities and independence for people with disabilities."
La Crosse-based Kwik Trip currently employs approximately 150 people with disabilities, who are paid more than minimum wage. Many serve in "retail helper" roles in which they're in charge of interacting with customers, keeping food stocked and cleaning.
The retail helpers program has existed for 20 years, but expanded after partnering with the Department of Workforce Development's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation a year and a half ago. Previously, Kwik Trip had around 30 retail helpers.
"The retail helper takes pride in the jobs that maybe some of our co-workers don't want to get to, but the retail helper takes pride in it, with a great personality, and it affects everybody in the store, it raises the morale," said Return to Work Coordinator Joalyn Torderson.
Nearly 4,500 people with disabilities were hired in Wisconsin in 2014, according to the Department of Workforce Development.