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Unique Fabricating South in LaFayette, Ga., is a busy manufacturing site. The company, which also has locations in Michigan and Mexico, makes parts for vehicles. They supply parts to all the major car companies and ship molded products all over the world. This, in itself, reflects the important role they play in our economy. But this year, they began making another significant contribution to society as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across our country and the world.

To meet the growing need for medical supplies in the health industry and through creative innovation, they began producing equipment that the world needed even more than cars. One young man, named Timothy Massengill, who has been with the company for over three years, began working on a project in March to produce medical parts for Zoll LifeVest Wearable Defibrillators. He produced the pads used in these life vests that have saved the lives of thousands of people who are at risk for sudden cardiac death.

This spring when many businesses were closing their doors and employees were being furloughed, Timothy never missed a day. Unique Fabricating had to lay off 95% of their 150 employees at one point and only a few people remained on the job. Timothy was one of those essential employees who faithfully worked 40 hours a week to meet the demand for medical equipment. Being consistent and dependable isn’t really anything new for Timothy though. He is a model employee and has often been assigned the task of training new workers who join the team at Unique Fabricating.

Timothy has autism but his disability has never prevented him from achieving his goals. He graduated from Project SEARCH in 2017, and was referred to Lookout Mountain Community Services Supported Employment program. His job coach, Kathy Phillips, learned that Timothy is fascinated by cars and is an exceptional artist who loves to sketch drawings of collisions, complete with car parts flying through the air. She arranged for a tour of the plant at Unique Fabricating and Timothy met Ron Jones, who was then the plant manager. He is now the company’s Director of Operations in the US and Canada.

Ron had previous experience working with individuals with IDD and believes that it makes business sense to hire men and women who may have a disability but also have much to offer an employer. He hired Timothy and now, eight individuals supported by Lookout Mountain Community Services are on the job at the manufacturing plant. Seven work full time and have benefits including 401(k) plans, insurance, and paid time off.

There are many people who have contributed to Timothy’s success. His family, who are his greatest advocates, his Project SEARCH teacher who helped to prepare him for work, his job coach who is available to help him navigate any changes or issues that he may encounter on the job, an employer who was willing to give him a chance, all of these were part of the story, but Timothy is the main character. His drive to excel, his commitment to completing assignments thoroughly and accurately, and his faithfulness to the company have made him an ideal employee. That’s just who Timothy is!

Article submitted by Rebecca Clark, supported employment and marketing coordinator with the Kaleidoscope program at Lookout Mountain Community Services.

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