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Video: The Ultimate Win-win, Hiring Employees with Disabilities

By Adam Cort, Content Director

Jed Seifert, co-founder of Stakes Manufacturing, talks about hiring disabled individuals as employees at a recent Shop Talk, hosted by Ink Kitchen’s Rick Roth.

April 18, 2023

The Shop Talk presentations that take place at each Impressions Expo, thanks to the hard work of Rick Roth and Ink Kitchen, are invariably fascinating and often inspiring. Rarely, though, are they quite as inspiring as when Roth had a chance to speak with Jed Seifert, co-founder of Stakes Manufacturing, about the benefits—and joys, literally—of hiring disable employees in the decorated apparel sector.

The subject is a deeply personal one for Seifert, whose brother, Darren, has Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental issues. However, Siefert’s message is about much more than just helping people out.

A hard-nosed businessman whose DTG/DTF company earns tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue, he fully recognizes a for-profit manufacturer is no charity. However, therein also lies the power of Seifert’s message—that in hiring individuals with disabilities you’re not doing anyone any “favors” per se. Just the opposite, you’re tapping into a labor force that may very well end up providing you with some of your best employees.

Think about it. There’s an awful lot of work in the decorated apparel industry that is highly repetitive—tasks that quickly become boring for many people, but which are nothing short of ideal for many people with learning disabilities who often find comfort in repetition.

Better still, according to Seifert, the enthusiasm many disabled employees bring to work can quickly become infectious. There’s nothing like helping change a life at the same time, say, your packaging department is running smoother than ever thanks to its latest new hire to put a smile on your face. And Seifert should know. He has over 20 full-time employees with disabilities at his company payroll who are not only held to as high a standard as anyone else, but are among some of his longest-tenured workers.

For those considering hiring disabled individuals, the good news is you are not alone. Just the opposite. There a number of disability employment service organizations, both governmental and otherwise, that exist for the express purpose of matching people with disabilities to the right job. They’ll also help train not only any new hires you might take on but existing staff as well to ensure the relationship is a success.

“This is all a free service…I don’t know anybody else who’s going to hire for you, train for you and make sure the employees are doing their job and doing it at a very high level,” Seifert says of these organizations.

Then there’s are the rewards of knowing your company is providing an opportunity to an individual or individuals who want to work and be productive citizens as much, if not more, than everyone else. To hear Seifert talk about his experiences hiring the disabled is to have your eyes opened to a whole new world of work and what it means to be a valued member of the community for everyone involved—a win-win if ever there was one.

For those interested in learning more, in addition to watching Roth’s Shop Talk conversation with Seifert, a good place to start is the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), a national organization dedicated to facilitating the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the workplace and community.