July 31, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
75°F

Filling jobs in Medina with special workers

Mike Meadows is looking to hire as many as 30 young people to work alongside his special-needs employees this summer.

Meadows’ company, 1st Day School Supplies, 775 W. Smith Road, supplies kits of basic primary school items — crayons, pencils, markers, rulers, folders and notebooks — customized for each school district.

Seville resident Tiffany Miller, left, and Katie Patterson, of Brunswick, put together boxes Tuesday morning at 1st Day School Supplies, 775 W. Smith Road, Medina. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY STEVE GRAZIER)

What makes Meadows’ company unusual is his workforce. Usually four or five of the workers who assemble the kits are developmentally disabled.

John Krebs, an enterprise coordinator with the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said 1st Day School Supplies often is a first-time job for those with special needs.

Krebs said that some special-needs workers go on to more advanced jobs in manufacturing or food service.

“They use this as training to enhance people skills and take direction from a supervisor,” he said.

Tiffany Miller, 24, of Seville, said she enjoys going to work there.

“It’s really good and keeps me motivated,” she said.

Because disabled employees have limited productivity, an exception to federal law allows them to be paid less than minimum wage. Ohio boosted its minimum wage by 15 cents to $7.85, starting Jan. 1.

Meadows said his special-needs workers earn 10 cents to 15 cents for each assembled kit.

The kits are purchased by parents directly from the company’s website, www.1stdayschoolsupplies.com.

“Basically, we’re a one-stop shop for parents to get all things school-supply related,” said Meadows’ wife, Connie, co-owner of the company that opened in 2009.

Because many school supply boxes are mailed near the start of the school year, the company is busiest during the summer, when hundreds of kits are packaged daily at the business and thousands are shipped to schools nationwide, Mike Meadows said.

Meadows said he’d would like to hire about a half-dozen more special-needs workers, in addition to 30 more regular employees.

Meadows said he’s hoping to have his new hires ready by June 1. Likely candidates are high school and college students looking for summer work.

“We’re ramping up our business this summer and looking for some special people,” said Meadows, who now employs five full-time workers in addition to the special-needs employees.

Some of the new employees will work on the assembly line while others will provide customer service, he said.

Starting pay for the new hires is about $8 per hour for a 40-hour, four-day workweek, which runs 10 hours a day Monday through Thursday.

“We expect performance-based raises to $9 an hour after a month, and some new people could be offered management positions down the road,” Meadows said.

Meadows doesn’t just employ people with special needs. He plays football with them.

For 23 years, he’s raised thousands of dollars for charity at his annual Turkey Bowl pickup football game at his Medina Township home, 3075 Hood Road.

Last year’s game featured about a dozen special-needs players who attend the Medina County Achievement Center.

Donations from the corporate sponsors of the teams go to the St. Vincent De Paul Society, which received a check for $125,787 after last year’s game.

For information regarding employment at 1st Day School Supplies, call Meadows at (330) 721-6865.

Contact reporter Steve Grazier at (330) 721-4012 or sgrazier@medina-gazette.com.