A conventional business idea suggests that profit is the bottom line when attaining success in a business. But it could be far from the truth. Companies with long-term successes spend less time worrying about this bottom line. They are instead a result of hiring and retaining great employees.
Peoria Production Solutions Inc. (PPS), a non-profit contract packaging company, has attained its competitive name in the market for putting its employees first. It runs on the business model of providing gainful employment to people with disabilities so that they can thrive in the workplace and find their strength by providing customized packaging and contract-filling services.
Such a unique approach to business has enabled the company to help its customers succeed by providing the most cost-efficient and high-quality contract packaging services that involve packing, packaging, repackaging, bag filling, stretch wrapping, and palletizing OEM and private label products, all ranged up to customer’s total satisfaction. In addition, its modern facility is designed for an efficient and controlled flow of materials for large-volume jobs, with 15 shipping and receiving docks, computerized inventory and fully integrated warehousing services.
Under the leadership of Dan LaTurno, the President & Chief Executive Officer of PPS, the company is known to be a leader among product packaging companies with specialized equipment and tooling for increased automation in packaging, counting, bagging, labeling and more. With its ability to facilitate the customer’s packaging needs quicker and for expense than other control packaging companies, the company becomes worthy of the title ‘5 Best Healthcare Packaging Companies 2023.‘
Let’s dive in and learn about the company’s operations that make it successful in delivering high-quality service for packaging, assembly, sewing, and more.
History in Brief
In 1941, Dr. Maxim Pollock noticed that after curing patients of Tuberculosis, these patients were being discriminated against in the workplace for fear of the transmissibility of the disease. So, he opened a business where he would bring in work and employ these affected individuals. They would sew safety items like gloves, aprons, and caps for welders at Caterpillar. He named it, Peoria Production Shop (PPS). In 1951, he incorporated PPS as a non-profit and opened up employment to individuals with all types of disabilities. Today, the mission of Peoria Production Solutions is to be the premier employer of individuals with disabilities.
Journey So Far
PPS has been supplying weight-transfer or Gait belts to the medical industry for 40+ years. The company sells these on its website (www.gaitbelt.com) as well as on Amazon. PPS Gait belts are in the top 100 home medical devices on Amazon and climbing. Within the past ten years, it discovered PT and OT nurses wanted to utilize the same belt across several patients and needed a material that could be sanitized. This led to PPS offering the Gait Belts in 2 different materials: cotton and vinyl. When the geriatric population began expanding, the demand for larger belts was expected of PPS, and again the research and design committee decided to offer a 72″ belt in addition to the original 60″ belt.
During COVID, PPS developed a relationship with OSF Healthcare, a local healthcare organization with over 15 hospitals in the Midwest. By making 3-ply masks as well as filling spray bottles with a disinfectant, Oxifir, PPS and OSF expanded their partnership past the gait belts. Currently, PPS produces 33,000 3-ply masks daily.
Today, PPS continues to serve the healthcare industry by partnering with local healthcare organizations’ innovation departments. Currently, there are more projects with pending patents and assemblies being designed by a collaborative effort of several area Healthcare organizations and PPS.
Dan, the President & CEO enjoys developing and executing the strategy of a business. He says, “This is my second stint in this role, but my first in the not-for-profit space. This role is very gratifying, especially at PPS, where we can provide a safe and respectful work environment for so many individuals with a disability who might otherwise not be employed or if employed, work where they stand out. At PPS, those employees blend into the fabric of what PPS does.”
“What I enjoy most about my role as President/CEO is when we land a continual piece of business that will employ our individuals with disabilities day in and day out. In 3+ years, PPS has doubled our employment for a population who experiences 60%+ unemployment, typically. Finding a reliable workforce is NOT an issue we struggle with, currently,” he continues.
Dan’s dedication to the mission is inspiring to the entire team at PPS. He has established an all-inclusive culture at both facilities. Each month PPS hosts perfect attendance luncheons and over 50% of the company is eligible to attend. This consistency of a workforce leads to incredible quality and consistency of the finished goods produced by PPS.
PPS provides Packaging, Kitting, Assembly, Sewing, Bottle filling, Bottle labeling, Shrink wrapping, bag filling, and fulfillment services for various industries above and beyond the healthcare industry.
Gait belts, 3-Ply masks, Surgical (tie-band) masks, N-95 masks, Catheter Training devices for nursing students, Medical monitor device stands, and Feeder bottle assembly are some of the packaging products that PPS has to offer. It also involves Medical kits such as First Aid kits, COVID-19 diagnostic kits, telemedicine kits, home health kits, and breast pump kits.
Ensuring Safety and Sterility
For products that require safety and sterility, PPS utilizes the space that is designated as an FDA-certified clean room. For those that do not have such requirements, appropriate PPE like hair nets, gloves, and the like are used.
Quality is a top priority for PPS. Several times, PPS has earned Gold level standards from Fortune 100 companies and a 100% performance score from their manufacturers. The quality department of PPS boasts about having less than 5 errors per 10,000 transactions.
From Initial Samples to Final Delivery
Once the company receives samples or drawings of the intended product, it performs a time study to estimate the labor cost of the process. That labor cost goes into a “scorecard” that captures all relevant costs like administrative time, receiving time, packaging material cost and etc. All the numbers are calculated into a per-unit price. This price is relayed to the customer, who then issues a PO to the company, and the job gets inserted into the production schedule.
Once raw materials enter the facility, they are immediately checked for any possible damage during shipment, beginning with the box’s exterior. A rigorous inspection is completed and meticulously counted to ensure the client received the amount of product they ordered in the expected condition. Once all materials are received and pass inspection, the line is set up and the employees are trained. All employees have job coaches, work instructions in picture format, and receive several training sessions. Once the initial 5 products are created, the quality department inspects the finished good and sends these samples to the client for approval. If anything needs to be changed, the process begins again. If the samples are approved by the client, the line proceeds.
After many product runs, its Continuous Improvement team tracks the time it takes to make the finished good and suggests any room for improvement. All finished goods are 100% inspected. Daily reports are provided to the client if requested. Clients can be as involved in the entire process or manage at a high level, PPS customer service team adapts to every client’s needs and provides top-notch service to all.
“As we produce, the customer is kept apprised of the status and once complete, a final count is provided to the customer, who then arranges for pick-up and delivery to their facility,” says Dan.
Minimizing Carbon Footprint
In recent times, PPS has been more focused on minimizing its carbon footprint. So, it has pushed toward more use of sustainable and Eco-friendly packaging materials. As a result, it has been able to recycle more than 2 million pounds of material since 2018.
“Our telemedicine kits can assist with remote patient monitoring for patients with chronic conditions which is extremely helpful when there is a surge of highly infectious diseases so the patient can avoid contracting by receiving care remotely,” adds Dan.
He continues, “The diagnostic kits and help kits can also decrease hospital stays and visits when hospitals are already overcrowded and help to provide care to patients within the comfort of their own home.”
Seeking a Competitive Edge
PPS differentiates itself by competition in many ways. The company is a 501(c) 3 non-profit entity. That allows it to focus on employment and job creation rather than simply the profit of a piece of work.
PPS’ mission is to be the premier employer of individuals with a disability. With this mission, PPS hopes to start an inclusively packaged mission that is an all-inclusive company at a time when diversity is a significant topic. The population of individuals with disabilities has an unemployment rate of greater than 60%, according to Source America. This means that the supply of capable workers is out there, just awaiting an opportunity to be employed.
“Also, this population of workers is very loyal and comes to work every day. Lastly, they are very loyal and do not job-hop for more pay elsewhere. Roughly, 60% of our 300+ employees fall into this category so that PPS can meet customer deadlines and promise dates regularly,” highlights Dan.
Reflecting on the challenges when looking at PPS, Dan highlights, “I believe there remains entirely too much focus on unit cost, thus leading companies to buy from China. If these buyers would look at the ‘Total-Landed Cost’ of buying overseas, where you would consider factors like freight, time in transit, quality of the item, and the like, US-based companies would fare much better against their overseas competitors.”