New York State Industries for the Disabled, Hill & Markes Create Innovative Strategic Partnership, Boosting Economic Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Will Help Family-Owned, Century-Old, Amsterdam-Based Business Improve Operations and Reduce Carbon Footprint
New York State Industries for the Disabled and supply distributor Hill & Markes today announced an innovative strategic partnership that will boost economic opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities and bolster Hill & Markes’ product distribution efforts throughout the state.
The partnership links two organizations that share a commitment to corporate social responsibility and are deeply involved in making New York State a better place to live and work. By reducing the number of trucks on the road and taking advantage of Hill & Markes’ environmentally sensitive LEED-certified facility, the partnership will also reduce the two organizations’ carbon footprints.
Stanfort Perry, Executive Director of AHRC Nassau and Chairman of the Board of NYSID, said: “It’s a cliché to call things ‘wins all around,’ but it’s completely true today. Persons with disabilities win because this helps create jobs for them and address the unconscionable 67 percent unemployment rate they suffer with in New York. Businesses and large institutions win because their purchasing and delivery are made easier and more efficient. This region wins because a locally owned, home-grown business gets stronger. And everyone wins because people are getting together to do the right thing the right way – and that’s good for our state and our country.”
NYSID President and CEO Maureen O’Brien said: “Hill & Markes has a demonstrated commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities, working with our member agencies, being environmentally sustainable, and operating as a good corporate citizen. Hill & Markes is a perfect NYSID partner.”
Hill & Markes CEO Jason Packer said: “As a 3rd-generation family-owned business, we fully understand the value of doing good for people and doing well as an enterprise. Our new partnership with NYSID will strengthen not only our company but our larger community. It’s a win-win. We applaud Maureen O’Brien, her team and the entire NYSID Board of Directors for envisioning this partnership. And I applaud our two organizations’ leadership teams for working together so well to make this partnership a success. The partnership moves Hill & Markes closer to its ambitious goal of having 25 percent of its labor force include people with disabilities, military veterans and people of color.”
“Our mission is to aggressively pursue that goal with NYSID’s support. NYSID’s sharing of best practices will be instrumental in our mission,” Mr. Packer said.
Hill & Markes’ history dates to 1906, when it was founded as a candy, ice cream, and ice cream cone distributor by Amos Hill and Charlie Markes. The two men made deliveries by horse and buggy throughout Upstate New York, even during the harsh winter months.
Now with 180 employees, Hill & Markes warehouses and delivers janitorial, industrial packaging, food service, ice cream and office supplies to large and small businesses in New York State north of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and western Vermont. It has been continuously located in Amsterdam, NY and remains family owned.
NYSID is a statewide non-profit that facilitates employment opportunities for nearly 6,000 New Yorkers with disabilities annually through New York’s Preferred Source Program and the private sector. The program was created in 1975 as part of the state’s plan to improve supports for people with disabilities in the wake of the Willowbrook scandal. (Learn more about Willowbrook here and here.)
Senator Michelle Hinchey (D-Saugerties) said: “This exciting partnership between NYSID and Hill & Markes will advance equity in our workforce, spur environmental sustainability, and improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, which is exactly the kind of strategic thinking and transformation we need to help move our communities forward. I’m proud that this innovative and important initiative is being spearheaded in Montgomery County, and applaud both organizations for their leadership to forge the kind of business model our community can both benefit from and be proud of for years to come.”
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Schenectady), Chair of the New York State Assembly Sub-Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders, said: “The new partnership between NYSID and Hill & Markes will not only provide meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities, but also reduce the carbon footprint of both companies. This is a commonsense collaboration between an essential organization that advocates for those with disabilities and a local family-owned business committed to giving jobs to people that are often overlooked. It will greatly benefit our communities in the long run, and I commend NYSID and Hill & Markes for their efforts.”
Senator John W. Mannion (D-Syracuse), chair of the Senate Disabilities Committee, said: “I strongly support programs and funding that assist job and career opportunities for disabled New Yorkers like the innovative new partnership between NYSID and Hill & Markes. Unemployment among the disabled is at a stunning 70 percent, a needlessly high statistic particularly at a time when we know there is a serious labor shortage across many sectors. Employing disabled New Yorkers is a win-win with companies getting the workers they need to succeed and the workers getting the dignity, value, and satisfaction of an honest day’s work – and that is something you can’t put a price tag on. I commend in the highest possible way NYSID and Maureen O’Brien for tireless work improving and protecting lives, and to Hill & Markes for recognizing the many contributions disabled New Yorkers will make to their workforce, productivity, and community.”
Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort said: “Jason and Hill & Markes are a wonderful asset to Montgomery County and I’m proud our community is home to a business which supports and is committed to hiring individuals with disabilities, as well as making efforts towards being more environmentally sustainable. Hill and Markes’ new partnership with NYSID will greatly strengthen our area and I appreciate their foresight and collaboration on this effort.”
Under the new strategic partnership, NYSID will store products packaged or assembled by employees at its member agencies in Hill & Markes’ 130,000-square-foot LEED certified facility in Amsterdam and use the company’s coordinated distribution system to deliver those products to customers across the state. These positive changes will allow NYSID to better manage costs and productivity.
Hill & Markes will utilize the additional inventory to increase trip efficiency by ensuring trucks are fully loaded before they leave the warehouse for deliveries. This reduces the company’s environmental footprint as well as shipping costs.
As part of the new agreement, NYSID is closing its existing distribution center in Johnstown. No jobs will be lost as current distribution center employees have been offered positions by Hill & Markes or transferred to NYSID headquarters in Albany.
The Hill & Markes family strongly believes in being a good corporate citizen. Some of the many charities and organizations supported by the company include: Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties, Centro Civico, Liberty ARC, Lexington ARC, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, St. Mary’s Hospital, Fulton County YMCA, Nathan Littauer Hospital, and more.
NYSID facilitates contracts between state and local governments and a network of non-profits for data imaging to secure document destruction to manufacturing to janitorial services. NYSID also contracts directly with private businesses who want to diversify their supply chain to help create more jobs for this able workforce.
The Preferred Source Program was created by Gov. Hugh Carey and the state Legislature after Willowbrook to integrate people with disabilities into community life through work. The Program’s goal was to create jobs and economic opportunities — and spur all the larger societal benefits – for people previously shut out of the labor force and, even worse, had for years been shoved into institutions like Willowbrook on Staten Island and Letchworth Village in Rockland County.
In September 2019, The Rockefeller Institute of Government found that the Preferred Source Program has created thousands of jobs for people with disabilities (and turned them into taxpayers), reduced government public assistance costs, and generated $368.9 million in economic output for New York in 2018 alone.
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About Hill & Markes, Inc.
Since 1906, Hill & Markes has been dedicated to providing solutions to businesses across New York State that help them save time, money, and improve health at their facilities. Their mission is more than moving product off a shelf, it’s a commitment to safety and well-being. Hill & Markes is a 3rd generation, family-owned and operated company that strongly believes in being a good corporate citizen and giving back to the community. Hill & Markes has everything you need for food service disposables, janitorial products, office supplies, safety supplies, and packing and shipping products. See more at hillnmarkes.com.
About New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID)
NYSID is a 501(c)(3) with the mission of “advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities.” Established in 1975, NYSID facilitates employment opportunities for nearly 6,000 New Yorkers with disabilities annually through New York’s Preferred Source Program and in the private sector. NYSID’s community rehabilitation member agencies and corporate partners are located throughout the state, providing jobs in the community and in production facilities. For more information, visit www.nysid.org.