For the past four decades, Bollinger Enterprises, Inc. has been putting people with disabilities to work.
Annabel and Clifford Bollinger founded BEi in 1972 as Warren ARC Enterprises, Inc., a sheltered workshop for people with disabilities. It was just a small storefront in downtown Warren with a few staff members.
Since then, it has grown to serve 110 people in any given week. It is housed at a 25,000-square-foot, multi-building complex in North Warren.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Natalie Machensic works on cups at Bollinger Enterprises, Inc.
Robert Klebacha, executive director of BEi, said it provides subcontracting for local industry and provide in-home services to Warren and Forest counties. Retail, manufacturing and life skills are all taught through BEi.
"We have standards for performance like any other business would have," Klebacha said.
Standards include getting the product to market on time with high quality. Basically, Klebacha said, they're a labor source for industry.
During the school year, Klebacha said students work at BEi as part of their individual education plan (IEP). They can work for up to two hours on a school day and gain work experience while earning money.
"People here are earning wages for the work they perform," Klebacha said. "We are licensed by the Department of Labor to pay people with disabilities a piece rate."
For programming aspects, BEi is licensed by the state Department of Welfare's Office of Developmental Programs. Funding of services comes from state, federal and local dollars, Klebacha said, with Warren County Human Services one of the contracting agencies for the services.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, BEi will hold an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 44 N. State St., North Warren. The event will educate people about BEi, Klebacha said, and allow them to see operations there.