It’s common for someone to feel a bit anxious on their first day at a new job. In Jeremy’s case, it was more about excitement than nerves.“This is fun – I can’t believe I’m here,” the Vodec consumer said upon his arrival at Ruck Cabinet Doors (RCD), Vodec’s newest business partner and off-site worksite. “I love working out in the community because it gives you experience.
Jeremy – along with consumers Derek, James and Raymond and their Vodec job coaches – spent Aug. 8 in training at RCD. Located at 7050 N. 97th Plaza Circle in Omaha, the family-owned company manufactures handcrafted, American-made cabinet doors, drawer fronts and drawer boxes for small commercial and residential customers nationwide.
The RCD story began last spring when Jon Taylor, the company’s owner and president, was searching for woodworking machinery for another business idea he had. Taylor came across a local cabinet door shop that recently shut down, leaving its employees jobless and without much hope for the future. After meeting with some of the former employees, the business entrepreneur decided to acquire the closed shop’s equipment and customer base. Next on Taylor’s agenda was to hire back the employees who’d lost their jobs, and Ruck Cabinet Doors was born.
Earlier this year, RCD found itself understaffed on its production floor and in need of extra support. RCD General Manager Jimmy Carroll said the company heard about Vodec via its work with other manufacturers and was intrigued.
Initially, the company owner had a few reservations. “We pride ourselves on our quality product and quick lead times, so it was important to me that wouldn’t be compromised,” Taylor said. “After seeing the consumers on the production floor, it became clear I had nothing to worry about. They’re extremely detail-oriented and care about the quality and timeliness just as much as our full-time employees do. This is a partnership that’s just as fulfilling to us as it is to them.”
On Day 1, Carroll and the RCD staff did their best to make the quartet of Vodec consumers feel like part of the team. Each received a RCD baseball cap, safety gloves and goggles. Carroll then took everyone on a tour of the plant, stopping to explain what happens at each work station.
After the tour, the consumers – shadowed by their job coaches – went right to work. Raymond looked at home in the sanding department, getting the different product items ready for assembly. Jeremy’s first job at RCD was learning how to make boxes in the shipping department. “It’s just like wrapping presents,” he said.
Most of the consumers working at RCD are assisting with shipping and packaging. “It’s been a huge help, especially with large volume orders,” Carroll said. Consumers also help with outfeed on some of the production floor’s machines. RCD pairs up one full-time employee with a consumer. The full-time employee operates the machine and feeds the product on one end, and the consumer catches it on the other end and places the item in a rack.
Carroll said he’s most surprised by the consumers’ work ethic. “They’re meticulous about everything they do – there’s a lot of attention to detail and quality,” he said. “It’s been so helpful and efficient for our shop because now our other full-time employees have time to focus on other projects going on.”
The general manager is currently thinking about potential ways to expand Vodec’s role at the plant in the months ahead. There also may be opportunities at Taylor’s other companies – commercial subcontractors who work for general contractors across Iowa and Nebraska.
“I’m excited by our partnership with RCD,” said Jeremy Dunkirk, production director at Vodec. “I appreciate the company’s willingness to provide meaningful work opportunities to the individuals we serve.”
Consumers at our Vodec work centers and off-site worksites perform basic tasks for our business partners under the supervision of Vodec staff. This process allows them to learn and improve their basic assembly, packaging, sorting and counting skills. Our consumers are paid fair and legal wages for their work that can prepare them for community jobs.