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Warehousing & Fullfillment

How PRIDE Breaks Down Barriers

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PRIDE has a presence in 15 states and at multiple military bases.

PRIDE Industries is in the business of helping people overcome obstacles. The Roseville, Calif.-based company has become a leading employer of people with disabilities, providing opportunities and continued success through person-centered job coaching, training and placement.  

This has included one of the regional procurement managers, who is legally blind. Rather than being limited by his disability, “he has an extra-large monitor where we can blow things up, and he manages extremely well,” Vice President of Procurement Paula Petersen reports.

PRIDE employs many hearing-impaired individuals. It has innovative technology, and ASL job coaches onsite to support and ensure its team thrives in their roles. “[They] work with our folks to help mitigate whatever challenge there is,” she says.

PRIDE was founded in 1966 in Auburn, Calif., by a group of parents of adult children with disabilities. after meeting in a support group for those with disabled children. When one mother expressed worry about her child’s lack of employment options, the group got the idea to “start a nonprofit for people with disabilities. They wanted their children to work, have the dignity of earning a paycheck, and live full lives,” Petersen explains.

Today, PRIDE offers facility operations and maintenance services, custodial services, contract manufacturing, supply chain management, and fulfillment services to public and private organizations. The firm has a presence in 15 states and at multiple military bases.

Under the leadership of Michael Ziegler, former CEO of PRIDE Industries, the company grew from 65 employees to more than 5,600 today, 3,350 of whom have disabilities. Mike passed away earlier this year after 37 years of dedication to the mission. “He grew this company into the leading employer of people with disabilities in the nation,” Petersen says.

The Blank Canvas

Petersen joined PRIDE in 2012 after working for Hewlett-Packard for 16 years. Her previous employer, she notes, was one of PRIDE’s largest customers. “That’s how I came to know about PRIDE,” she recalls. “I was interested in going to work there because I believed so much in the mission.” 

When she arrived at PRIDE, the firm had a “blank canvas” in terms of its procurement operations. At the time, the company only had a single category manager, and a substantial percentage of its procurement staff consisted of clerks with no training. “For the last eight years, I’ve been developing a procurement function,” she says, noting that all of PRIDE’s procurement groups nationwide now report to her.

Petersen is focused on maximizing savings at PRIDE by optimizing spending, as well as moving the organization to a single ERP and procurement system. “Over the years, we had more than one system,” she says. Now, “it will be digitized, eliminating a manual or paper-intensive process.”

Another goal is to optimize its business model and its people. As part of this initiative, PRIDE provides training for its entire procurement staff, and assesses their skills. “We’re taking it to the next level to help our people become best-in-class in procurement,” she says.

Taking the Lead

PRIDE’s essential service offerings and manufacturing agility kept the team busy, navigating the challenges of COVID-19. Over the last few months, “Our work level in procurement bumped up 30 percent, especially here in corporate,” Petersen recalls.

PRIDE’s staff that can work from home are working from home right now. Still, many employees continue to work at contracted sites, particularly on military bases where its services are considered essential. PRIDE’s safety and procurement teams took steps to ensure its employees’ safety. 

To ensure its team is protected, it uses PUR, a highly-effective sanitizer, and personal protective equipment (PPE). “Our procurement team took the lead in providing PPE to our employees around the country,” she describes. 

PRIDE increased wages for front-line employees and provided High-Touchpoint Disinfection Training Bootcamps. Employees in other departments asked to undergo the training, as well. “The demand went up so fast,” Petersen says.

The company expanded its service offerings to support COVID-19 efforts, including warehousing and shipping more than 2 million protective masks to hospitals.

COVID-19 impacted PRIDE’s relationships with its vendors. Suppliers would routinely attend meetings at its offices, but now they are conducted virtually. “It’s been extremely successful,” Petersen reports. “We’ve made it work.”

‘Big, Hairy Audacious Goals’

Petersen sees a strong future ahead for PRIDE as it expands its mission empowering more individuals in its communities. “One thing about PRIDE is we don’t put up barriers,” she declares. “It’s our job to tear down barriers.”

The company recently combined with a local partner to help those efforts: Crossroads Diversified Services Inc., a Sacramento, Calif.-based nonprofit with a similar mission. PRIDE will continue to grow, allowing it to support more people that need a helping hand, one of Ziegler’s goals.

“He used to say, ‘We have these big, hairy audacious goals,’” Petersen recalls, noting that the company wants to employ 100,000 people with disabilities. “We can grow our procurement organization as well as provide people with opportunities. It is a different model, but it is one that works and is very rewarding.” 

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