DePaul plans aggressive growth

DePaul plans aggressive growth

BY AMANDA WALDROUPE

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ABOVE: Dave Shaffer, CEO of DePaul Industries
BELOW: DePaul workers pack boxes of snacks at the 100,000-square-foot packaging facility.
// Photos by Alexandra Shyshkina
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The two lynchpins of DePaul Industries’ aggressive five-year strategic plan hoping to grow revenues to $86.5 million and create nearly 3,500 jobs are customer satisfaction and getting the right jobs to the right people.

DePaul Industries is a nonprofit organization providing employment opportunities to nearly 2,000 people with physical or mental disabilities by operating three outsourcing businesses in food packaging, temporary staffing and security services.

Dave Shaffer, DePaul’s CEO, says the 40-year-old nonprofit is expanding because of demand from companies wanting to outsource jobs to DePaul, and to fulfill its mission of providing employment opportunities to disabled people.

Unemployment among people with disabilities is disproportionately high — with estimates around 60%. But Shaffer says if the time is taken to find a job tailored to a particular individual’s skills and limitations, they are as hard working as anyone else.

Matching employees to jobs they will be good at ensures that DePaul’s product satisfies the companies it contracts with. “The key for us is that we make our customers happy,” Shaffer says. “If we don’t hit numbers, productivity or quality,” companies won’t renew their contracts.

Maintaining a focus on the business side of DePaul Industries is paying off. Gross revenue last year was more than $30 million, nearly doubling since 2007, when revenues were near $17 million.

Shaffer attributes growth to getting large contracts with companies such as Frito-Lay. Conversations are under way with similarly large companies who will be essential to DePaul’s growth. “The folks we have on board will take us to $86 million,” Shaffer says.

DePaul has a strong presence in Oregon and Washington, but opened a branch in Tuscon, Ariz., last September. Shaffer says DePaul is working to open offices in Pennsylvania, near Chicago and other areas.

“If given a chance,” says Shaffer about those with disabilities, “they become very good employees.”