Deaf workers make powerful impact

A silent community is making a loud, powerful impact on the production floors, on the company and in the lives of their coworkers at Trademark Plastics Inc. in Riverside.

After reading an article about a restaurant’s success in Toronto, Canada, that was run and owned by deaf people, John Taylor, senior vice president of Global Communications, saw an opportunity for his company to fix their turnover rate of more than 5 percent and most importantly, provide jobs for people of the deaf community.

Developed in 1989, Trademark Plastics Inc. is a plastic-injection molding company that manufactures plastic components that are later assembled into medical devices. Throughout their three manufacturing rooms, 100,000-square-foot building and 45 injection-molding machines, 15 percent of their staff is made up of deaf employees.

“I would say it’s an important role,” Taylor said. “They’re our first line of defense and they know that.”

Although the deaf employees apply for open positions without a resume or experience, the company trains them for hours on machine safety, defect detection and all the ‘how-to’s of plastic-injection molding.

Each employee starts off as a machine operator and can move up to positions such as visual inspectors, packers and even engineers.

Yasmin Mercado, human resources manager, is humbled through her interaction with their deaf employees.

“We have a 50-year-old woman who has been working all her life and she told me this is the only meaningful job she’s had all her life,” Mercado said. “That touches you.”

While the deaf employees restore meaning and remind the company of the importance of their jobs, they have helped Trademark Plastics Inc.’s turnover rate drastically drop to less than 1 percent.

With the success their company has faced, Taylor hopes to challenge other industries to think outside the box and make a difference in the business world.

“I hope we’re able to show through example this can be done and done easily and set a challenge out for other industries to start applying what we’ve learned, to hire not just deaf, but any disabled (person),” Taylor said. “I hope we’re in a position someday to majorly challenge industry, especially in Riverside where the deaf community is large.”

Bryan Graves, chief financial officer and doctoral student in business administration at California Baptist University, quoted management consultant Peter Drucker to capture how he believes his company is making a difference.

“Peter Drucker stated, ‘Business should contribute to society and to the greater good,’” Graves said. “I believe you see this contribution and greater good at Trademark.

“California Baptist University believes each person has been created for a purpose. I’m able to see our deaf community striving every day to find real purpose in their work, and each new hire is making a real difference.”

About Kaitlynn Labit


Leave a Reply