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SWI Industries celebrate ALL: adults w/ disabilities a workforce to be reckoned with


For the past 42 years, every Monday morning Winfred Jones springs out of bed, ecstatic to start the week. Occasionally, he even arrives 20 minutes early to chat with his coworkers and employees to hear about their weekends. Jones is greeted with many smiling faces, handshakes, and occasional hugs because his coworkers are so happy to see him.

This work scene is unique because almost everyone else you likely know despises Mondays or is not a fan of their coworkers. They drag themselves out of bed, avoid small talk and rush out of the building as soon as 5 p.m. hits. The difference between them and Winfred Jones is that Jones works at SWI Industries (formerly known as Web-Co Custom Industries) in Marshfield, MO. This unique business employs around 70 employees with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who reside in Webster County. SWI might just be the happiest place of employment in the county.

"I love to come to work every day", Jones wholeheartedly expressed. " "Because when I miss work they (coworkers/employees) ask 'why weren't you here?'... Some don't have family, but they have it here."

Mandy Archie, SWI Warehouse Manager echoed the same feelings.

"Every time I get up in the mornings, I'm ready to go to work. If you've had a bad night or something the night before it's like as soon as you walk in the door and you see them it just all changes. All your worries are just left behind and you know it's going to be a great day."

Each employee at SWI is assigned to a job based on their preferences, interests, and strengths, works alongside people with and without disabilities, receives comparable wages, and is free from workplace discrimination. Employees who require a ride are picked up and dropped off by one of the company's four bus routes organized throughout the county.

Jones emphasizes that without company transportation, working would not be possible for many of his employees.

"That's the key: most employees couldn't work in the outside world because they have no transportation. Whereas we pick them up. We run to Fordland, Seymour, Niangua, and even Radar, Missouri. Also here in town. Likely they wouldn't have an opportunity to work anywhere if it wasn't for that."

This work atmosphere was created and designed just for these individuals in mind according to Jones, who is SWI's Plant Manager and has worked in the industry for the last 42 years.

"In 1977, it started with just a handful of people, parents, and a lady from the school who got together and started (Web-Co Custom Industries) in a building off of the square there on North Crittenden...just north of the jailhouse," explained Jones. "My youngest sister was born with Down Syndrome... and she started working there in 1978."

The organization moved and expanded to Marshfield's industrial park in 1997 and merged with SWI Industrial Solutions in 2020. SWI continues to provide meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities for those residents in Webster County.

Both local and national companies such as McCormick, 3M, Amazon Fulfillment, Dead Down Wind, Scent Thief, Sunny Bunny Garden, and many more contract SWI to assemble, or package their products. The assortment of companies that SWI works with provides varied occupational choices and experiences for its employees.

"When employees come to work, we try to assign them for the right job and see where they best fit in," Jones added.

The high level of quality products and attention to detail is also an attractive quality for companies who are looking to outsource their labor. SWI's reputation is so renowned that many companies send their products for assembly or packaging without touring the facility or meeting in person.

"That's how much these companies trust us to do things. They just let us get the job done because these employees do such a great job" told Jones.

"If we (management) make a mistake, our employees will correct us. They will say 'that is not how we did that last time'. Sometimes we go to them and ask 'how do we do this?'. They seriously don't forget," smiled Jones. "Very seldom do you see them make a mistake."

Numerous individuals within the community have encountered the employees of SWI in one way or another. The company even created a board to represent the interests of its employees and oversees internal developments.

It's not all work and no play. Additionally, board members and community members want in on all the fun employees have at SWI.

The week before Thanksgiving, Jerry Nehl, Jane Alexander, Kylee Marx, Webster County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Berkstresser, and his team offered to serve employees a Thanksgiving feast.

Nehl, a Marshfield resident and a recent recipient of the Lt. Governor Senior Citizen Service Award, has been involved in SWI for many years. Nehl additionally serves up delicious holiday feasts to its employees at no charge.

"I was on board years ago and they got where they were financially struggling. They didn't think they were gonna be able to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. I said 'don't worry about it. I'll take care of it'," recalled Nehl.

"For a lot of these folks, this may be the only Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner they are going to have... this is the most impressive bunch you'll ever see. When they go to the line for food they thank every single person that served them and some of these guys will eat four or five times, you know, which nobody minds. They appreciate it. You don't mind doing stuff for somebody who appreciates it."

Both Jones and Archie plan to work at SWI for as long as they can. Jones is nearing retirement but isn't ready to say goodbye to his fellow employees just yet.

"They depend on you. They depend to see you here every day... If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here. It has nothing to do with us, it's about them. Their love is real," added Archie

"If the whole world was like they are, it'd be perfect," expressed Jones.

For more information on employment, volunteering, or general questions visit swiindustrial.com or call (417) 866-2339.


"If the whole world was like they are, it'd be perfect", said Winfred Jones, SWI Plant Manager.


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