On any given day, the first thing you’ll notice about FSC Lighting’s bright, spacious warehouse is its cheerful, bustling activity. The company, which is based in Rancho Cucamonga, manufactures energy-efficient commercial and industrial lighting.
At the north end of the warehouse, you might find a team of employees testing the functionality of L85 LED strips, the type of lighting you’d find in a warehouse, distribution center or stairwells. Across from them, another team might be working side by side to assemble L6000 Series LED Radial Wrap, a bright white wraparound fixture designed to light stairwells and multi-deck parking.
Many of these employees are part of the company’s Made with Care program and have come to FSC through Anthesis, a nonprofit organization that finds employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
Founded in 1969, FSC began as a boutique assembler of residential fluorescent lighting fixtures. Today, the company builds complex and intelligent LED lighting systems for a wide range of commercial and industrial uses, including schools, office buildings, parking structures, retail locations and sports facilities. And while efficiency has long been a driver of success, the executives at FSC say that their people have always been the first priority.
“The quality of your product ultimately depends on your team. So, we’re committed to creating a work environment that feels like an extension of our employees’ families – an encouraging and empowering setting that’s secure and comfortable,” says President John Watkins. “Our Made with Care program is an important part of that.”
As a company that prides itself on constantly developing innovative product solutions, FSC is committed to the same type of forward thinking when it comes to its staff. Years ago, executives decided that it was important for the company and the community at large to integrate people with developmental disabilities into the workforce.
So far, the program has proven incredibly successful. “The skills and dedication that these employees bring is reflected in the craftsmanship and dependability of every one of FSC’s products,” says Watson.
Director of Operations Holly Pugno agrees. “Our Made with Care employees have consistently outperformed the temporary hires we used in the past. They are a core part of our operational success and company culture.”
Owing to the success of Made with Care, FSC is planning to expand the program to include paid internships that can ultimately lead to permanent employment. Under the new design, FSC will offer paid internships to people with disabilities looking to improve their vocational skills. Each intern will be matched with a dedicated job coach to oversee his or her work and act as a mentor, and the state of California will supplement the interns’ wages and benefits until they are hired permanently. During the internship period, interns and employers can determine whether the position or company is a good fit – all while providing valuable skills and income to the intern and skilled labor to FSC.
“Long ago, we decided that people with developmental disabilities should make up at least 25% of our workforce. Not just because it would provide those employees with steady, meaningful work, but also because it would benefit the company as a whole and our community in general,” explains Watkins. “And that has undoubtedly proven to be the case.”