Employees With Disabilities Assembling Hard Goods

DePaul Industries was founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1971, to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Initially a small organization providing jobs to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, DePaul has seen significant evolution and growth in its 45 years.

Men assembling parts1970s

  • A vocational training and employment program for people with developmental disabilities is formed, after the State of Oregon requested such a program; DePaul is named in recognition of the $100,000 in seed funding provided by the Society of St. Vincent DePaul.
  • Within the first five years, at least 40 individuals with disabilities are in training and working each day in contract production.
  • DePaul’s growth surpasses even the most optimistic of forecasts, as the budget nears $1.7 million.


  • As social service funding begins to dry up, DePaul’s Board begins exploring alternative revenue options, and recruits a business-oriented MBA graduate as executive director, who promotes the idea of a double bottom line—using business to drive social good.
  • DePaul shifts from a social service model to an affirmative business model in order to provide competitive wages and career tracks for people with disabilities. Implicit in this idea is the belief that if the business isn’t viable, it won’t survive.

Man cleaning bus shelter1990s

  • Freightliner Corporation becomes DePaul Industries’ largest manufacturing customer.
  • Various entrepreneurial businesses spur job growth, including producing fresh-squeezed orange juice, building lawn furniture, and bus shelter cleaning.
  • DePaul begins providing temporary staffing and unarmed security services, creating viable job opportunities and steady revenue streams, and opens an office in Salem, OR.


  • DePaul streamlines to three core businesses: staffing, security, and food and consumer goods packaging.
  • The packaging division expands to a 100,000 square foot plant on Portland’s Hayden Island.
  • DePaul’s Board of Directors approves a new, aggressive business plan, and the staffing and security divisions expand to broaden geographic coverage, with new locations in Eugene, OR, and Bremerton, WA.


  • By its 40th anniversary in 2011, DePaul Industries has trained or employed in excess of 15,000 people with disabilities, and paid wages and benefits of more than $150 million.
  • New locations open in Hermiston, OR, Sierra Vista, AZ, Baltimore, MD, and Boise, ID.
  • DePaul expands on the east coast by beginning to provide staffing services in Delaware and Washington, D.C.
  • DePaul establishes its export business, and is recognized in its first year with the New Exporter Award by the Oregon Consular Corps. DePaul President & CEO Travis Pearson is invited to meet President Barack Obama to discuss international trade in May 2015.
Pres. Obama speaks with DePaul CEO Travis Pearson