The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 2, 2014

Jo Ellis: Innovative Industries offers varied services for area residents

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Suppose you have a pickup truck load of old newspapers, catalogs and magazines you can’t stand to have around the house any longer, but it’s a Saturday afternoon, or a Sunday or a holiday, and the city’s recycling center is closed.

Don’t fret. Any time of the day or week, you can drop off your recyclables — paper, plastics, aluminum, cardboard — in the large containers in the parking lot of Innovative Industries Inc., 421 W. Centennial Ave.

That isn’t the only service the employees of Carthage’s sheltered workshop offer to residents. If you call for an appointment, they will wash and detail your car or truck in the carwash system provided to them by the Helen Boylan Foundation.

Tammy Barton, manager of Innovative Industries, said the employee roster averages 56 to 58 each month. Two of the workers, who coincidentally are married to each other, have been employed at the workshop since 1985-86.

The workers, ranging in age from 18 to almost 70, handle a variety of services for local companies, from assembly work for H.E. Williams Lighting, to packaging educational forms for Pitsco and cheese for Schreiber Foods. Their compensation varies according to the type of work they are performing.

They also build boxes for Dyno Nobel products and make labels for Leggett & Platt Inc. They drive to area banks and post offices to pick up security documents and bring them back to be shredded and baled for recycling.

One of their longest-running contracts is for cleaning and maintaining the Joplin and Halltown rest areas on Interstate 44 for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Sometimes, Jeff Jones, director of Innovative Industries, goes along on the work projects. Jones was a member of the Jasper County Sheltered Facilities Board for three years until he was named director in 2010, succeeding Larry Lloyd, who held the position for more than 30 years. The workshop was founded in 1969. Jones has seen growth in the number of employees in the past couple of years.

As with many nonprofit organizations, he said, there is always a need for more money. The two largest income producers are recycling, which produces about 20 percent of the revenue stream, and the MoDOT contract, which accounts for almost 35 percent of the income.

Jones is appreciative of the contributions and grants that help keep the workshop afloat. In the past, he has received funds to purchase a trailer, a baler, a trash bin, a shredder for security documents, additional bins for collection of recyclable items, and a lawn mower for the maintenance of the rest areas.

Contributors, in addition to the Boylan Foundation, include the United Way, the Region M Solid Waste Management District and Schreiber Foods, which holds an annual charity golf tournament to raise funds. The workshop also is supported in part by a county property tax administered through the Jasper County Sheltered Facilities Board.

Jones is writing grant applications for needed improvements: $2,400 to upgrade the office computers; $5,000 to purchase a snowplow to fit on the truck and spreader; and $15,000 to hire a productivity coach to work with employees to find efficient ways of working that would return more income to them as well as improve their service to the community.

Barton said the welcome mat is always out for people to visit the workshop, from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. weekdays.

And you can drop your recyclables off any time.

ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE to Jo Ellis, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email

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