A new van, new production partners, new awnings and even a basketball court. The future looks bright for Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) as their newest facility celebrates three years as the “new kid on the block.”
In September 2013, Prescott Charities, Inc., announced the commencement of construction for a new training and employment facility for YEI!. That dream became a reality in January 2014 with the massive remodeling and expansion of their newest facility in Prescott Valley, aptly named Antelope Point at Eastridge—AP@E for short. This larger fulfillment center more than doubled the production and training program space and central warehousing that serves the organization’s two other production facilities.
As a result, YEI! continues to offer fulfillment and storage for their production partners who come to YEI! for quality and efficiency. Executive Director Brad Newman recalls how the facility was named, “The name Antelope Point at Eastridge (AP@E!) is fitting. During construction, we would drive to the jobsite every morning, scattering the antelope.” The name for the site came naturally to preserve the culture and tradition of the area. The property is located at 8582 Eastridge in Prescott Valley.
Today, there are no signs of slowing down at any of YEI!’s production and training facilities, particularly AP@E. The growth continues with new production partners such as sewing machine product company Creative Feet, etched glass company Laser’s Edge and book publisher One World Publishing, adding to the family of businesses that keep YEI! guys and gals employed, and keep local and state-wide businesses running smoothly.
Site Team Leader Ed Jeffrey has been employed with YEI! for 12 years, and sees the impact that a newer, more efficient facility has made. “Historically, we would experience a slowdown this time of year, but this time we are rolling at an even clip. In addition to the newer production partners we have added, we continue to maintain work for the businesses who have been with us for the long-term. We’re building boxes and packing material for two of Ruger’s most popular products and turning out 12,000 units a week. We see our production partners as cyclical; once the work slows down with one, another one comes on board.”
Those who have visited any of YEI!’s facilities or family homes know that YEI! walks the walk and talks the talk when they say, “The Tour Will Make Your Day.” Visiting AP@ E is even more energizing for visitors. Says Jeffrey, “We try to keep a lot of the products available for people to see, like park benches, bench combos, picnic tables, and planter boxes in the two sizes. Our 40thanniversary park bench sits in the front of the building. We crafted that as a commemorative piece, and we display it proudly in front so people can see what kind of work went into it. And, as for the tours, once people come in and start talking to the members we have, the members make them feel at home. They take a lot of pride in this building, and we keep it clean and maintained. We have a good group, and this space continues to be a shining point for us. When people come by, we show it with pride. It’s just a much better setup for us.”
Comfort and warmth are features that ring true at AP@E—both inside and out. Adding to the outdoor comfort and functional enhancement includes the installation of new awnings in March. In the past, the building had challenges because of intense exposure to sun and rain coming toward the door. The new awnings—custom-made by A Shade Above and installed by Signs Plus—will deflect some of the light, wind and rain, and provide a more comfortable feel. Inside the building during early construction, the lighting was changed to make the area friendlier and warm.
When construction took place, architects like Taylor Architects and the team at B’s Contracting made sure to design a storage area that would be separate from the work area, allowing the production line to be more efficient and systematic. Like others who work there, Jeffrey is pleased with the result, “The overall space makes more sense, and it has a nice symmetry to it now.” A job site to 4 supervisors and 25 workers, “The space is open, yet condensed. It’s easier for the supervisors to provide the much-needed support because they can see more area and more employees.”
An expanded production facility means more work for all, but not without a little relief on the side. Thanks to APS, basketball hoops were installed at AP@E on each side of the building. In addition to manpower, businesses can also support YEI! by purchasing hand-crafted furniture and keeping information about YEI! in their places of business.
Galpin Ford is just one of the businesses that supports YEI!. The dealership offered a discounted wheelchair-accessible van to YEI! last year. The new van has enabled YEI! to transport two wheelchairs and more people, making it easier for the personnel and for the employees to get people in and out. Says Jeffrey, “Our new driver has helped speed up the morning transport. There is a lot of ground to cover, but it’s much more efficient and safe.” Transportation is critical in a work environment like YEI!. Says Newman, “It doesn’t matter if you have the best program in the world. If you can’t get people to where they need to be, it doesn’t count.”
Employees like Jeffrey know they have it good working at one of the best places in the Central Highlands. “The best part is working with a good team of co-workers. And, the families and members provide such great lessons to us in life. They are so much like us, and we all huddle together and we see them as they are. It’s so much fun, the organization is supportive. I look forward to the future.”
More About YEI!:
Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities. YEI! has been providing job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services for these developmentally disabled adult residents of the cities and towns of the Central Highlands. Their program of “Developmental Employment” includes the award-winning “Community Contribution Corps” (community volunteer placements) and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) since 1978.