Find a job with Journal-News: Consider hiring people with disabilities

Auto supplier ThyssenKrupp Bilstein of America doesn’t always hold a ceremony when temporary employees pass their 90-day probationary period and are made full-time staffers. But this time was different.

The Hamilton company has been hiring hundreds of new employees as the maker of shock absorbers expands. And in the last year, it started a new partnership with Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities to hire some clients to work in material handling and other positions. Job coaches contracted by the county worked with the new hires to help them learn the skills to perform job duties.

Then, at a special ceremony last Monday, six developmental disability clients received blue uniform shirts with their names sewn on them. They’re now full-time “Bilsteiners” working side-by-side with other Bilstein employees.

“So far, I have only seen phenomenal feedback from other employees about our new team members,” said Bilstein President and Chief Executive Officer Fabian Schmahl.

They were given the opportunity to work full-time and earn a living wage despite their disabilities and it’s an opportunity that the government agency is seeking with more employers in the area, said Keith Banner, employment services coordinator for the Butler County agency. Rather than isolate someone for their disabilities, job opportunities help them become a contributing taxpayer to society, Banner said.

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The biggest barrier is “the assumption they can’t do the job,” he said. “That’s the biggest obstacle.”

“We often consign them to they’re over there and we’re over here, and I think that contributes to the idea they can’t do what I do,” he said.

Tim Jennings, of Fairfield, one of the newly-hired disability clients at Bilstein, said, “I wanted to work here because it looked like a great place to work.”

“I’m happy and excited. I finally have a job. I’m grateful I can get more hours,” said co-worker Zach Hawthorne, of Hamilton.

Now, Bilstein intends to hire more disability clients.

“They came in a very kind of foreign environment and they did extremely well,” said Pat Murray, materials and logistics manager for Bilstein.

October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Finding meaningful employment for clients of the Butler County board is a top priority.

Currently, 198 people supported by Butler County Developmental Disabilities work part- and full-time jobs. But there are an estimated 140 more people seeking work, according to Banner.

“If you have a job and you’re alongside other people working a job like yours, you’re fully integrated and have a better life,” Banner said.

If your company is interested in working with the Butler County disabilities board, call Banner at 513-785-4633 or email him at

“We need as many employers as possible to step up in a variety of jobs,” he said.

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