Lott Industries provides assembly services for area companies
Photo of Jay Skebba
OCT 28, 2020 12:39 AM
The coronavirus pandemic isn’t the first crisis Lott Industries has fought through, so it’s no surprise the non-profit organization is still going strong.
Lott Industries has provided educational and vocational opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities since 1956. The organization still helps about 150 of those adults, but is now focusing on all people with barriers to employment.
CEO Tim Menke said the pandemic allowed Lott to speed up the process.
“The whole state is going through this transition where people with developmental disabilities need quicker access to jobs and training,” Mr. Menke said. “COVID was kind of a shock to all of us, but even bigger to people with developmental disabilities. They struggle with things like anxiety and depression more than the general population.”
Lott shut down in March and did not reopen until August. Mr. Menke said it was tough for many of the adults with disabilities to stay home every day and not collect an income.
The organization transformed its services to become more well-rounded and able to help a full spectrum of adults. In addition to providing adult day services and vocation, Lott is a full-fledged manufacturing facility.
The company has assembly contracts — mostly kitting and sorting — with hundreds of northwest Ohio customers.
That portion of Lott is run as a true business with right pricing and good quality, Mr. Menke said.
“During COVID, we had to keep that business going. We have 70 staff and we were on the floor keeping it going. It’s been a ton of work. But we’re very proud of it. We kept the business afloat during a pandemic,” he said.
For years, Lott had a $6 million annual contract with Ford Motor Company at the Maumee Stamping Plant. However, the plant closed in 2007 during the Great Recession.
Adults with disabilities, through Lott, are working in several different industries. Businesses include The Andersons and Welch Packaging.
Nate Greg, general manager of Welch’s Toledo facility, said they bring value to the business. Tasks include gluing boxes, building partitions, and building kits. “They’re here every day and a pleasure to be around,” Mr. Greg said. “They’ve always got a smile and bring up morale for the whole team. It’s great to have them in the workforce.”
The Andersons has not directly hired from Lott recently but has contracted the organization’s services from time-to-time when manufacturing capacity was reached.
“The organization provides a great service to our community and to local businesses,” spokesman Kate Langenderfer said.
Adults with disabilities start the vocational process by going to the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities to get an assessment, usually before they leave high school. If they’re determined to be eligible for services, the family chooses a provider to work with.
A bidding process ensues to speak with each candidate and their family to see if they’ll choose their job, similar to a student choosing a college.
“Our mission is to empower people with barriers to employment, transform businesses, and enhance our community,” Mr. Menke said. “We do that one person at a time. The biggest challenge is educating not only the families of people accustomed to not being fully engaged and let them know it’s OK, but also from the community perspective and informing them that hiring someone with a disability is a good thing.”
Lott also employs people without developmental disabilities and is looking to hire for several positions. For a list of openings, visit Lottserves.org and click on the careers tab.
“We’re like a family here,” Mr. Menke said. “We’ve been voted a top workplace in Toledo the last three years and we’re proud of that. Not only do we serve a purpose, but we’re also a great place to work.”
First Published October 24, 2020, 11:00am