2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Rural Manufacturer Reaches Out To Teenagers In Foster HomesRoger Kuntz of Grainfield, Kan., has found a win-win situation by offering jobs to teenagers in foster homes and other disadvantaged youth.
He says many people may not have thought of this angle for filling labor needs, while at the same time providing community help to those who might benefit from a boost.
Kuntz's business specializes in the repair of Flex-King and Richardson blade plows and he also manufactures several products for industrial supply companies. He used to have trouble finding part-time help.
"I noticed that there were some foster home teenagers who didn't have cars and were seldom out for sports. The extra time they had, and their willingness to work created an opportunity for both of us," Kuntz explains. Picking up the workers in my van and sharing and listening to their lives is a great break time for all of us and it seems to give them a purpose while increasing their self esteem."
Kuntz says there's also an opportunity to "farm out" assembly work by taking the raw materials to these people's homes where they can work in a familiar environment.
"We are all handicapped in different ways and there are people out there who don't have the polished skills to sell themselves, so I think it's up to us to seek out the needy and bring the jobs to them," Kuntz says. "I provide them with very safe jobs that are matched to their skill levels, such as assembly and maintenance.
"As I work with these teenagers and handicapped people, they earn self-esteem, income and resource stewardship skills," he says. "I also have a shop standard that includes politeness, good language, and honesty."
Kuntz says the advantages of working with youth are that they are adaptable to change. Also, they have a creative flair and a gratitude for the opportunity that's presented to them.
"To the youth, it's a new, fun and exciting atmosphere because it's so foreign to them. All of a sudden the video game world is less attractive û this is the world of reality," he explains. "That's why I get so excited about working with these people and helping them to let their beauty shine. They feel important and a part of something. I feel that's a part of what I need to give back for my enjoyment here on earth."
Kuntz admits that his labor solution does require extreme patience and intense management.
"You have to hover over them like a mother hen because they are just being introduced to new technology and problem-solving. This challenges me to keep elevating my standards to where we have fool-proof jig assemblies and assembly processes," he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Roger Kuntz, 5251 Co. Rd. X, Grainfield, Kansas 67737 (ph 785 673-5560).
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