For more than 40 years, WorkQuest has connected state agencies with community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) across Texas that supply products, services and temporary employment services through the State Use WorksWonders Program.
This fall, just one day after hosting its 12th annual Artie Lee Hinds Award dinner, WorkQuest assembled representatives from 26 CRPs to speak with customers and purchasers from state agencies to answer questions, discuss services and temporary employment service offerings, and display product samples at its 31st annual Products and Services Expo in Austin. Having physical samples on hand allows customers to preview products they can order from the various CRPs.
“The expo is a good place to introduce new purchasers to the program,” Serlester Boone, a purchaser with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, said. “It’s nice to be able to pick up samples so they can see what they’ll be purchasing.”
Jose Sanchez, business service officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said having the actual product is “different than looking at it in a catalog.”
“It’s helpful to be able to pick it up and feel it before you commit to buying it,” he said.
First-time attendees said it was valuable to have the opportunity to connect with CRPs who could become suppliers for their agencies.
“This is our first time at the expo, but it’s been extremely useful,” Janalee Paiz, director of administration and Texas contract developer certification (CTCD) at the Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel, said. “I saw some new products I’d like to look into. I’ll be back next year!”
The expo also gives CRPs the chance to mingle and be encouraged by the work their counterparts around the state are doing to support employment for those with disabilities.
“At this expo, with everyone coming together face to face, you can see for yourself what each CRP does and how proud they are of what they have to offer,” Shara Elder, manager of marketing and distribution for the Texas Department of Correctional Industries, said. “Seeing others excited about their products or services makes us more excited about ours.”
A major benefit of attending the expo, according to many CRP representatives, is the chance to interact with current customers while introducing themselves to prospective customers. This face time is key to expanding the reach of many CRPs, which, in turn, promotes increased job creation for those with disabilities.
“The interest for me in the expo is how it furthers sustainable employment for the blind,” John Moore, director of business development at the South Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, said. “We see sales growth each year because of the expo and reach customers we can’t often reach.”
“This event is the best time for networking and building agency connections,” Kurt Daniels, operations director for Daniel Pest Control, added. “It’s amazing how many helpful people you can meet here.”
Exhibitors who attended:
- ABG Fulfillment
- Austin Task, Inc.
- Beacon Lighthouse
- Camino Real Community Services
- Corpus Christi State Supported Living Center/ Woods Etc.
- Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind
- Daniel Pest Control and Professional Services
- East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
- Enterprise Professional Services, Inc.
- Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth
- Goodwill Industries Central Texas
- Goodwill Industries of East Texas
- Goodwill Industries of Northeast Texas
- Goodwill Industries of San Antonio
- Goodwill Industries of South Texas
- New Hope Academy of Fort Worth
- Peak Performers
- Professional Contract Services, Inc.
- Relief Enterprise of Texas
- Rising Star Resource Development Corporation
- South Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
- Texas Correctional Industries
- The Lighthouse of Houston
- Travis Association for the Blind – The Austin Lighthouse
- VRC Industries
- West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind
- WorkQuest – Central Store
- Office and school supplies
- Furniture items
- Medical supplies
- Bed and bath supplies
- Food supplies
- Janitorial supplies
- Safety supplies
- Landscape services
- Parks and grounds maintenance
- Document destruction
- Litter pick-up
- Receptionist services
- Pest control services
- Recycling services
Temporary services included:
- Accounting and clerical support
- Technology data entry