Remember when our President & CEO Dave Shaffer won Entrepreneur of the Year for piloting our unique integrated social venture model? Right now, he’s at the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum with 243 other regional winners awaiting the announcement of the National Entrepreneur of the Year, socializing with innovators, visionaries, and nationally-recognized entrepreneurs who are, to put it simply, changing the way we do things for the better. …
DePaul Industries Blog
What a week! Right on the heels of winning the 2011 Quality Award from Pepsico Americas Foods last week, our own DePaul Industries’ President & CEO Dave Shaffer was named the winner of the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Pacific Northwest! The award was presented at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue outside of Seattle at a special gala this past Friday, June 15, 2012.
This is a huge accomplishment for Dave, as well as for DePaul’s innovative demand-driven business model of employing people with disabilities. For years, we’ve focused on developing solutions for businesses by leveraging the unique talents of people with disabilities. To be acknowledged by Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award—an award that has recognized the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Richard Schulze of Best Buy and others—is a major milestone in our history.
Dave put it best when he said that his long-term goal would be for our customers and another companies to put DePaul Industries out of business, by fully integrating people with disabilities into the workforce and making high unemployment rates a thing of the past. “In the interim, though,” said Dave to the audience on Friday night, “I ask you to take a risk (that’s what entrepreneurialism is all about): Hire people with disabilities. The rewards will dwarf the risk 10 times over.”
Check out a video of Dave’s acceptance speech, and a video clip of some of Dave’s interview discussing the DePaul Industries business model below:
So, what is alternative staffing? Alternative staffing agencies operate just like your standard staffing agency–solving labor market issues for businesses–but with the added goal of helping disadvantaged individuals access job placements on a competitive basis. In DePaul Industries’ case, we focus on creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities–the nation’s largest minority group.
Traditionally, acquiring employment for people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups comes from government policies, grants, and quotas. This is where the entrepreneurial piece kicks in: Rather than relying on outside regulations, alternative staffing organizations go where the jobs are–in the business world–and compete just as any other staffing agency. Bottom line? They get the job done.
Leveraging a model that already exists in the for-profit world for social benefit may seem like an overly simplistic idea, but often the best entrepreneurial ideas are. In the words of Peter F. Drucker, innovator and namesake of the Drucker Institute, “The greatest praise an innovation can receive is for people to say: ‘This is obvious. Why didn’t I think of it? It’s so simple!’” Alternative staffing is proof that people with disabilities make up a highly efficient and successful workforce.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for the Pacific Northwest region will be presented at a special gala on June 15, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue in Washington. Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In the Pacific Northwest, local sponsors include ADP, Puget Sound Business Journal, Scherzer International, The Big Picture Video Film & Arts, and Union Bank.
Want to learn more about Alternative Staffing and its entrepreneurial approach? Check out the Alternative Staffing Alliance.
Now in its 26th year, the award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Of the 2011 Finalists last year, Dave was unique in representing one of the very few nonprofit organizations honored for its entrepreneurial thinking.
Dave is a firm believer in the notion that solving business problems is the most effective way to solve the large social problem of the lack of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. By focusing on meeting or exceeding business expectations, Dave holds himself and the organization to a high standard of accountability: If the business is not viable, the mission won’t be, either.
By restructuring the way DePaul Industries represents itself as a social entrepreneurial organization—between business and nonprofit—Dave has had to weigh risks of alienating constituents in the nonprofit world or the business world, or in both. This is a delicate balance of communicating, and delivering, the benefits of a combination of these worlds. Dave is keenly aware of this organizational pull in both directions and has been persistent in embedding DePaul right in the center. His ability to recognize the ‘money vs. mission’ conflict as an omnipresent ‘check’ on operations has launched DePaul into the forefront of the social entrepreneurial space.
Awards will be presented at a special gala on June 15, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In the Pacific Northwest, local sponsors include ADP, Puget Sound Business Journal, Scherzer International, The Big Picture Video Film & Arts, and Union Bank.
Who’s entrepreneurial in your organization? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts about how forward thinking has created positive change in your industry.