Kness offers employment to those with disabilities


July 1, 2016

Kness offers opportunity and outreach for those challenged by disabilities.

Members of the Kness family working at Mosaic — one of five vocational centers to partner with Kness. Photo: Kness Mfg. Co.

Members of the Kness family working at Mosaic — one of five vocational centers to partner with Kness.
Photo: Kness Mfg. Co.

in Albia, Iowa, has an inspiring way to give back to the community — particularly those who are challenged by disabilities including Down syndrome, blindness, autism, microcephaly, cretinism and others. The company provides employment to this population, and by extension, new skills, self-confidence and independence.

The program, which began in 1993, involves five vocational centers that serve as subcontractors for Kness. Nick Fugate, international and midwest sales manager for the company, explains that vocational centers like the ones Kness teams with are places where people with disabilities can go each day to better themselves via educational activities, rehabilitation exercises and job training.

“Once they begin going to one of the five vocational centers we partner with, they instantly become part of the Kness family,” Fugate says.

The five centers (Ragtime Industries, New Focus, Christian Opportunity Center, Tenco Industries and Mosaic) essentially have been recruited to oversee the assembly process of the company’s Snap-E mouse traps, Big Snap-E rat traps and prepackaged glueboards. All of the centers are within 30 miles of Kness’ main facility, and each employs between 12 and 45 clients ranging in age from 18 to 65.

A hard-working Kness employee assembles traps. Photo: Kness Mfg. Co.

A hard-working Kness employee assembles traps.
Photo: Kness Mfg. Co.

Fugate believes the greatest primary benefits to participants in the program stem from income and independence.

“It’s a great joy to many of them because they’re now able to support themselves,” he says. “They’re often very proud of their ability to earn an income on their own for the first time.”

Additionally, Fugate explains that participants of the program are obtaining valuable work experience and building job histories. This means that if they leave Kness to find a job on their own, they can dive in with the confidence that experience provides. Fugate loves hearing stories about employees who have gone out on their own and found success beyond the walls of the vocational centers.

“We also love stories of how they took the skills they establish and put them to use in a new job at a manufacturing plant or restaurant,” Fugate says.

kness-employment-trap-2There’s another dimension to Kness’ generosity: It supports the centers that support Kness. At the end of each year, Kness donates money to each of the vocational centers, Fugate says.

“We’ve learned over time, sometimes the government funds don’t go as far as they need to,” he says. “The donation is to help keep the staff each center carries, because the clients of these centers really care about the staff, and the staff really care about the clients.”

Senior Editor Will Nepper can be reached at or 216-706-3775.

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  1. Richard says:

    My hat’s off to Kness, for helping out the disabled of the community. Society still shuns these people, but greater inroads are happening because of Kness and the vocational facilities. One thing most people don’t realize is that they can be in the same situation if they were to fall, have a stroke or be in a car wreck. Then I would say to those people for making fun of these Special People….NOW YOU ARE ON OF THEM. Please keep in mind that you may end up with a disability and you are not exempt from it happening to you some day. These people are GOD’S true children and adults and they deserve the respect as anyone else. God bless Kness & the vocational facilities!!!

    From Panama City, Florida