Uniquely Abled Workers Bring Their Strengths to the L&S Shop Floor

As anyone who runs a machine shop can tell you, it can be difficult to find skilled workers with an interest in manufacturing. But the good news is they’re out there. You just have to look in new or unlikely places.

For example, L&S Machine Company has found success employing individuals on the autism spectrum. Not only does the detail-oriented nature of manufacturing suit these workers, but they often have the right combination of skills to perform the job successfully.

Let’s explore how L&S and its President Rob DiNardi are creating new opportunities for these workers on the shop floor.

The Uniquely Abled Project

Based in Latrobe, PA, L&S Machine is an advanced CNC machining and manufacturing company that serves the nuclear, aerospace and medical industries.

Recently, Rob’s wife Patty found an article about Titans of CNC—a company that created The Uniquely Abled Project (UAP). By collaborating with the business community, UAP transforms the lives of “uniquely abled” individuals through meaningful employment by matching their abilities to jobs in demand.

Bringing the Program to L&S

Rob and Patty began exploring how they could create job opportunities for the uniquely abled at L&S. They discovered that the routine, repetitive and detail-oriented nature of manufacturing often suits individuals on the autism spectrum. They also learned these individuals tend to have a high degree of technical, mathematical and pattern recognition skills.

To identify candidates, Rob partnered with organizations in Greensburg and Johnstown that work with individuals on the autism spectrum. Because these new employees prefer to stay busy, Rob placed them at workstations that involve cycle times of two to three minutes—which they love. He also found they excel at tasks where instructions must be followed exactly.

And because machines operate 24 hours a day, four days a week, L&S can easily accommodate the needs of the new employees, including transportation issues or medical appointments.

Strengthening the L&S Culture

Adding the new workers has had a profound effect on the L&S work culture. Rob has found being part of a company with a higher purpose has inspired his staff, customers and various stakeholders. Because of the program’s success, he even started looking at employing older workers on the autism spectrum.