Taking a page from the mission-driven employment playbook, outdoor brand Toad & Co.’s CEO Gordon Seabury is committed to employing workers with developmental disabilities at his Chicago-based packing and shipping warehouse. In a program started 20 years ago, Toad & Co. moved towards a more socially conscious employment agenda when it paired with Search, Inc., the same company Ben & Jerry’s used to staff recently released inmates so they could provide meaningful work experience and training in their Brooklyn bakery.
“As far as I know, we were one of the first for-profit/not-for-profit joint ventures of its kind in the developmentally disabled community.” Seabury says his company’s mission was born out of a deep desire to pair social consciousness with retail. “I thought we could lead in sustainable business practices but realized pretty quickly there were other larger outdoor brands already focused there. Our leadership role [should be] to introduce a social mission to the industry. No one was focused on the People part of Planet, People, Profit.”
The Santa Barbara-based brand has had 338 developmentally disabled employees since 2004. By offering job training or well-tailored positions with workable hours, buildable tasks, and a low stress environment, Seabury is able to tap into a valuable and underutilized segment of the employment market. Starting in 1997 when Search, Inc. and Toad &Co. started Planet Access Company (PAC) as a third party logistics company with a mission-driven focus.
Seabury also set up Search for Adventure, a non-profit that orchestrates and provides adventure trips for their employees and other members of the developmentally disabled community. Even with those important roles, he’s not ready to start coasting and plans to begin coaxing other organizations to adopt a more socially conscious philosophy. “Now we are also developing a plan to inspire and support other programs with like-minded for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. We are also rolling out a program developed by Search’s team to educate and certify businesses as disability-friendly,” he promises.
Like many members of the logistics community, BCS Placement is deeply inspired by the effects witnessed when companies take a more proactive approach to their commitment to providing support, resources, and training for individuals with disabilities or in partnership with organizations whose goals, along with profit, are aligned to make their community better every day. We hope Seabury is right that more companies and more workers are building careers with a mission of public service as part of their core behavior and we are thrilled to see logistics pioneers involved.