Celebrating a monumental milestone
From the military to the shipping industry, cargo nets are a tool that get the job done. Very few people ever question where they come from, but thousands are made in the U.S. every year by people with disabilities.
For the past 15 years, The Abilities Connection (TAC) has manufactured cargo nets for the U.S. Air Force. This work is done through the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Recently, TAC employees and leadership celebrated a monumental occasion – manufacturing the one millionth cargo net. While TAC recognizes the magnitude of that number, the organization’s leadership is extremely proud to have created employment opportunities for hundreds of individuals within the community over the years.
“The most important part of this celebration wasn’t really about the physical cargo nets, though that is an achievement,” said Jim Zahora, CEO of TAC. “Over the last 15 years we have provided employment to over 500 people with disabilities, giving them a chance to earn a paycheck and reinforcing their sense of purpose with meaningful work while working for the military.”
The talented people employed under this contract are working in a competitive integrated environment alongside people without disabilities and are paid competitive wages. TAC’s mission to employ and successfully train this segment of the workforce continually pays off in both quality and quantity of the work they produce. In a single month, employees with disabilities produce 4,800 cargo nets. In fact, the organization has had zero defects and 100% delivery on-time for the Air Force since the contract began.
Manufacturing cargo nets is a multi-step process that requires employees to be hyper-focused on excellence.
- Step 1: Creating the cargo straps
- Step 2: Assembling the net
- Step 3: Final inspection
All employees working on this project play a pivotal role in its success. As part of its ongoing effort to create a culture of upward mobility, TAC has promoted individuals that have mastered each phase of the process.
Members of the U.S. Air Force have also recognized TAC employees for their hard-work and dedication. Since the contract started, more than 10 generals have visited the operation to personally thank staff for their efforts. People with disabilities take pride in their ability to both work for and support the military.
“It’s good to know you are doing something to benefit the military and where your job product is going to,” said Carla Nickels, TAC team member. “I’m proud to work for TAC, and I’m proud to work for the military.”
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