DePaul Industries is bringing its mission to help disabled workers find work to the Treasure Valley.
Based in Portland, DePaul provides businesses with short-term workers just like any staffing service. The difference is that DePaul works mostly with workers with physical or developmental disabilities. The nonprofit, which operates from eight offices in five states, placed workers in 3,200 temporary jobs earning more than $30 million in wages in 2013, President and CEO Dave Shaffer says.
"It's a win for us and for a company if they want to hire (the temp workers)," Shaffer says. "We differ from other staffing firms in that we encourage attrition."
DePaul expanded into Boise by opening PurposeStaff, a for-profit version of its staffing office, at 1406 N. Main St. in Meridian. The two-employee office opened in November and has had about 30 workers earning wages, including some working at lumber and light industrial companies and in clerical positions at law firms, Shaffer says.
A U.S. Department of Labor rule has fueled demand for DePaul's services and prompted Schaffer's decision to expand with PurposeStaff. The government wants companies with federal contracts to fill 7 percent of their workforces with employees who have disabilities. The rule is not yet enforced, but many businesses expect it to become important as seek federal contracts, Shaffer says.
"We thought (the 7 percent rule) could be the trigger that says this is a viable business that will create demand on the part of government contractors to figure out how to do this," he says. "Why not position ourselves to help them do that in an easy way?"
People with disabilities are employed at about a third of the rate of the general public, Shaffer says. Companies trying to be more socially responsible are recognizing the problem and using DePaul and PurposeStaff to hire more people with disabilities, Shaffer says.
PurposeStaff will run nearly identically to the nonprofit DePaul and will remain driven by DePaul's social mission rather than seeking profits, he says.
DePaul is not affiliated with Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Catholic volunteer group that serves poor people. De Paul Industries also employs workers with disabilities in packaging and security operations.
Myers Container in Portland regularly fills temporary positions at its recycling plants with DePaul workers. Jerry Barker, assistant administrator at Myers, says the company currently has 10 DePaul workers.
Barker says Myers' human resources department probably kept its eye on the 7 percent rule, but all he cares about is finding reliable workers. The company has hired DePaul-placed temp workers in the past.
"These people can do the job sometimes better than people who don't have disabilities," Barker says.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_zachkyle