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DUXBURY, Mass. -- VERC Enterprises has hit its goal of having 20 percent of its workforce made up of disabled and/or challenged individuals. The locally based retailer has 23 locations comprised of convenience stores, gas stations and car washes spread across eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
VERC CEO Leo Vercollone said the company believes in the value of reaching out to individuals who have physical or mental disabilities, or challenges. He added that VERC stores offer many employment opportunities for those employees.
"We have been going in this direction for a while. For a few years, we were at 10 percent and thought we could do better, so we set a company goal of 15 percent and after achieving that goal, we set our sights on 20 percent," he said in a news release.
VERC Enterprises employs nearly 200 workers. To hit that 20-percent mark, the company reached out to organizations that help place individuals with challenges in the workforce.
"Our efforts began about eight years ago when we brought in a few individuals with challenges and found that our store cultures were able to provide the support needed to make a program like this work," Vercollone explained. "It is a program that has had positive impact for our stores, our customers, our communities and our entire staff."
Vercollone and his brother Paul have worked with the chain's Director of Human Resources/Operations Barry Ahern and others at VERC Enterprises to develop, implement and sustain the program. "The employees that we bring in under this program are excellent," said Vercollone, adding, "They are productive, do great work and add to the culture."
Disabled/challenged employees currently work in stocking, landscaping and helping to bag products from counter sales. In addition to local applicants who may apply for work independently, VERC has developed a strong network of resources that includes Minuteman ARC, Plymouth ARC, Best Buddies, BAMSI, Eastern Middlesex ARC, Post Program of Duxbury, Road to Responsibility and others.
He has also invited other companies "to come in, see how this program works, and then get on board and do it themselves."
"Think of what could happen if every company set a minimum goal of 20 percent disabled/challenged for their workforce," Vercollone said.