Some 20% of the 200 employees at VERC Enterprises have physical or mental disabilities or challenges. Helping employ these individuals has been a huge focus for CEO Leo Vercollone.
VERC Enterprises, an independent convenience store, gasoline station and car wash operation with 23 locations throughout eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire has reached its goal of having a workforce made up of 20% disabled/challenged individuals within their stores.
Leo Vercollone, CEO of VERC Enterprises, said his company has long believed in the value of reaching out to individuals who have physical or mental disabilities or challenges, and that the stores his company owns and manage have many employment opportunities for those workers.
“We have been going in this direction for a while. For a few years, we were at 10% and thought we could do better, so we set a company goal of 15% and after achieving that goal we set our sights on 20%,” he said.
VERC Enterprises, with nearly 200 employees, has made a concerted effort to reach out to organizations that look to place individuals with challenges in the workplace.
“Our efforts began about eight years ago when we brought in a few individuals with challenges and found that our store cultures were able to provide the support needed to make a program like this work,” said Vercollone. “It is a program that has had positive impact for our stores, our customers, our communities and our entire staff.”
The company has long worked as a team to bring the disabled/challenged population to the current 20% level. Vercollone and his brother Paul have worked closely with their Director of Human Resources/Operations Barry Ahern and others at VERC Enterprises to develop, implement and sustain the program.
“The employees that we bring in under this program are excellent,” said Vercollone, adding, “They are productive, do great work and add to the culture.”
In addition to local applicants who may apply for work independently, VERC has developed a strong network of resources that includes Minuteman ARC, Plymouth ARC, Best Buddies, BAMSI, Eastern Middlesex ARC, Post Program of Duxbury, Road to Responsibility and others.
Positions filled by disabled/challenged employees include stocking, landscaping and helping to bag products from counter sales.
VERC Enterprises is widely recognized for supporting the communities it serves; however this program, said Vercollone, holds special significance.
In fact, Vercollone is such a proponent that he extends an open invitation to other companies “to come in, see how this program works, and then get on board and do it themselves.”
“Think of what could happen if every company set a minimum goal of 20% disabled/challenged for their workforce,” he added.