Vector Industries has closed on the purchase of a property on Hopeman Parkway in Waynesboro that will triple the current physical plant for the unique non-profit that provides employment opportunities to people with diverse disabilities.
The 1300 Hopeman Parkway property, most recently home to Matt’s Supreme Cones, and also the long-time former home to a local facility for Corning, features 82,000 square feet of warehousing, light assembly and office space.
Officials said Friday that Vector Industries is pursuing an aggressive schedule for renovations that could have employees on location in June.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to get it ready to accommodate what we want to do at Vector, not only because of the age of the building, but also because of the population that we serve,” said Chrissy Johnston, the CEO at Vector Industries, which was founded in 1969, and employs and trains persons with diverse disabilities to enable them to reach their potential as productive community members.
The new facility on Hopeman Parkway will allow Vector Industries to better carry out its missions of providing employment to persons with disabilities and providing businesses in the local community a dependable business partner, said Paul Dryer, chairman of the Vector Foundation Board of Directors.
“Vector Foundation Inc. was founded three years ago with the express purposes of providing support to the mission of Vector Industries. The purchase of 1300 Hopeman Parkway is a fulfillment of the Foundation’s mission,” said Dryer, an attorney with the Franklin, Denney, Ward & Dryer law firm in Waynesboro.
“We are incredibly excited to have an opportunity to expand our operations and thus expand employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in our community,” said Nathan Robson, chairman of the Vector Industries Board of Directors and the director of strategic marketing at Waynesboro-based nTelos.
“Our business partners and customers will also be better served by the expansion, through increased capabilities and efficiency. We appreciate the Vector Foundation for their foresight and commitment to the Vector mission,” Robson said.
The boards of directors of the two parent organizations had expansion on their agendas for several years, said Richard Baldwin, a long-time member of the board of directors for Vector Industries.
“Expansion of the Vector facility has been a goal of the board for a great number of years and at times seemed impossible. With great fortune and fortitude we can now say that we have met this challenge, and can now set our sights on bigger projects,” said Baldwin, the general manager of M.I.T.S of Virginia.
As the economy continues its recovery from the 2007-2010 recession, Vector Industries has been fortunate to be able to expand its business relationships significantly, particularly in the past two years, and according to Johnston, the non-profit had essentially outgrown its space on Fairfax Avenue.
“We’re trying to expand our business lines, and some of those lines require more physical space. Some of the products that we’re dealing with are physically large, and we have just outgrown the space we have here at our current location,” Johnston said. “We’re constantly moving things around, shifting things here and there, and it’s just not an efficient process. This is going to allow us to do what we do and do it better, and also do what we do and expand with our current partners and potential new partners.”
A key element to the expansion and move to a new location is work environment.
“We announced this to our employees Thursday afternoon, and there was a ton of excitement, because of what this move will mean in terms of what we can do to improve the work environment for our employees,” Johnston said, explaining how the break room at our current location is so small that our employees need to take lunch breaks in shifts, and what that does to impact employee morale and productivity.
“The new location will allow us to build a new break room that can accommodate all of our employees at one time, which will make for a better, friendlier work environment, and also improve productivity,” Johnston said.
Johnston has already started getting feedback from business partners, and “our current partners are excited about our future,” she said.
“I think we’re going to see current partners and potential new partners begin to start considering us for projects that they previously hadn’t considered us for because of our space limitations. Our current partners have told us that they’ve always been impressed with our quality of work and our ability to deliver on-time and on-budget. When they see us with additional space, I really think they’re going to be thinking of us for larger projects,” Johnston said.
The move that is to come has been 45 years-plus in the making.
“The business is sound, and justifies us making this move,” Johnston said. “We’re fortunate to be able to purchase a building. Not a lot of organizations of our nature are in a sound financial position to be able to do so. We’re very fortunate, and it’s because of the leadership of this board of directors that has put us in this position. We were in a position where we needed to expand, we needed to be able to step up to this challenge, and now we’re here.”
– Story by Chris Graham