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Sounding Board: Service Out of the Ordinary

By Tanya Cheung

From the exterior, you may recognize Starworks Packaging and Assembly as an ordinary warehouse situated along SW Marine Drive, clustered amongst a series of car dealerships that share the same neighbourhood.

What you may not know is that inside this ordinary looking warehouse, there is a dedicated team of 40 that handles hundreds of thousands of items each month, from producing tie wires for BC Hydro to assembling mail out packages for the Ministry of Tourism and shrink-wrapping warehouse packs for local food distributors. Starworks provides a full range of packaging and assembly services from post print assembly to kitting and shrink wrapping.

The concept is quite simple, companies work with Starworks to package, assemble and fulfill their products, when it’s proven to be too costly or taxing on their internal resources to perform these tasks “in house.”

While the range of services and volume of materials that Starworks handles out of the 5,000 square foot warehouse might seem extraordinary, the truly extraordinary part of their business is that unlike typical businesses, Starworks operates as a social enterprise that gives back to the community by providing employment to individuals with barriers to employment.

It has been 10 years since Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) created this social enterprise and provided employment opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities and other barriers to employment resulting in financial gain, an accessible work environment and skills training that will help them transition to careers with other companies.

Kirsti Inglis, general manager, explains, “Our staff takes great pride in their work and values Starworks as a career, which is why we have such low turnover rates. Our employees’ dedication to the job, attention to detail, quality and enthusiasm for the work are amongst reasons why we have been chosen by crown corporations and international organizations for their projects.”

A testament to Starworks quality control is that several of Starworks’ customers utilize Starworks to correct mistakes made in their own automated production process. By working with Starworks, companies are able to focus on their core competencies, leaving Starworks do what they do best – focus on the details.

Tanya Cheung is the communications and marketing manager for Developmental Disabilities Association. For more information, visit www. develop.bc.ca.