Crowder Industries in Neosho celebrated a half-a-century in operation on Tuesday.
And, all that history was front and center at their fifty-year ceremony.
“It’s been successful in its mission providing meaningful jobs to its disabled employees for a half a century,” explained Missouri Representative Ben Baker.
It was 1969 when the operation first started up.
In fact, Rhonda Thurman would start just a couple of years later.
“I started here I was 18 years old in ’72,” said Thurman, an employee of Crowder Industries.
In fact, she’s the longest serving employee, although several were honored for 30 years, 40 years or even more time on the job.
Greg Cook is the general manager.
“It gives a purpose,” Cook explained. “They’re getting up every morning and it’s their job and they have ownership of that. But, there’s also a social aspect — it gets them out of their home and gives them purpose to go.”
The ceremony highlighted those workers and the support they get from local industry and the community as a whole.
“Fifty years is a long time and we’re proud to be a part of the community for fifty years,” Cook added.
Cook points out they’ve had their ups and downs, but there’s no place he’d rather be.
“We have fusses and fights just like any other employer; but it’s one big team–that’s why being the general manager at Crowder Industries, most days, is the best job in town,” said Cook.
More than 100 individuals with developmental or physical disabilities are employed at the site on the south side of Neosho. They give much of the credit for their longevity to county voters who approved a six cent property tax increase to support the operation in 2013.