Written by Ann McCauley
Buddeez Manufacturing Company in Union, Missouri, became the third business in the state to receive the Recovery Friendly Workplace designation. Ann McCauley, the Director of the Rural Opioids Technical Assistance (ROTA) Project and the Recovery Friendly Workplace Initiative, and Doug Swanson, Field Specialist in Labor and Workforce Development, traveled to Union, Missouri, on November 30th to present the designation.
“The Recovery Friendly Workplace designation process was launched in September and made available to businesses throughout the state,” McCauley said. “Buddeez Manufacturing Company was the third business, and first manufacturing company, to complete the entire process. Buddeez manufactures quality injection molded plastic storage products that are sold nationwide.”
The Recovery Friendly Workplace designation comes at no cost to businesses. The University of Missouri Extension is funding the initiative through a Rural Opioids Technical Assistance grant to address substance use disorder in rural communities throughout Missouri. Buddeez staff completed several steps to earn the designation. These included training, planning, and delivering a declaration to staff stating the organization’s support for employees in recovery.
During the designation, McCauley shared information about the UM System Manufacturer Partnership and connected the Buddeez staff to the services offered to help Missouri’s manufactures enhance innovation, resilience, and agility. The partnership leverages the expertise of faculty and student teams on the four UM campuses to serve the state’s manufacturers through education, topic-focused roundtable discussions, and company-specific projects. The Partnership has been created to address the needs of the more than 5,400 Missouri manufacturers throughout the state by bringing UM resources to the manufacturing companies that need them.
“The greatest thing about Buddeez is the staff,” McCauley said. “They demonstrate a tremendous commitment to their health and well-being and their support for those in recovery is phenomenal. Buddeez changes lives for the better, and in doing so, positively impacts its entire community.”
Mary Brutcher, the Human Resources Director at Buddeez, echoed McCauley’s sentiments. “Over the years, Buddeez has had numerous employees in recovery. Several have let their light shine by becoming better employees, parents, and co-workers. They are always friendly and extremely helpful. Many of our employees in recovery have been promoted several times, and some have even left us to advance their careers.”
Much of Buddeez success stems from its leaders, who view the staff as family, and understand that substance use disorder is a brain disease and not a moral failing. Supervisors allow staff in recovery the time they need to attend doctor’s appointments and to receive treatment.
Human Resources Manager Tori Kappelmann notes that hiring people in recovery is as rewarding to his business as it is to the employee.
“We are rewarded just as much as the employee who has chosen recovery. They are always excited to share their progress and we take pride in knowing that Buddeez is part of an opportunity that allows them to continue their recovery journey. Employees know they will be given time off to attend required recovery appointments, if they provide documentation, and they take pride in the support that Buddeez offers to them.”
One of the greatest benefits Buddeez has received by hiring employees in recovery is the way it has helped the business address the workplace shortage, and the support those employees offer to new hires, which has improved company retention. “Employees share their success and attribute it to Buddeez, and others want to be employed at a place where they can experience the same thing,” Kappelmann says. Jon Yawn, the Quality Manager at Buddeez, says one of his best employees was in recovery. “It was awesome to see her welcome new employees. She went out of her way to talk to every single person she came across because she didn’t want them to be alone or left out.”
In today’s world, where most of us have found the door to a business locked and a sign posted that reads “Closed due to a staffing shortage,” it is refreshing to find a large manufacturing plant in a small, rural community booming. Imagine a place where company executives feel blessed to be able to hire people in recovery. Mark Maloney, the Plant Manager, sums it up when he says, “We feel we are lucky, because we have the best employees. Some have struggled with substance use disorder and are now in recovery. Many of these hard-working folks make up our core. We welcome them, offer them stability, and a judgment free workplace. In return, they are loyal, consistent, and willing to go an extra step to make sure the job is done right. At this time, finding any employee is a boon, but finding core employees is an advantage.”
“It is our hope that businesses that have been reluctant to give people in recovery a second chance will hear the stories from Buddeez staff and leaders and decide to become recovery friendly, too,” McCauley said. “We are excited Buddeez has found a solution to the worker shortage and is willing to share their success with other businesses that need support.”