Pride and Purpose: GTI Manufacturers Bags for the State, Packaging Products for Local Companies
Grand Travers Industries (GTI), founded in 1974, provides job training and wage employment for disabled northern Michigans. In a deeper sense, it offers employees – who are called “clients” – a sense of pride and connection to the community.
Cindy Evans, now executive director of the nonprofit, says a college internship at GTI more than two decades ago helped her discover deeper emotions.
“The second week I passed the paycheck, I saw how excited the clients were to be recognized for their work,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. From that moment on, I was gripped. I started from the lowest position and worked my way up. “
Evans became the company’s executive director a year ago. He said GTI currently has a staff of 58 staff members and 164 clients. Most clients work at one of the GTI’s sites in Traverse City or Mansellona. Some, however, work off-site for outside employers.
In the case of domestic production, GTI continues to rely heavily on the manufacture of various types of plastic bags. Big customers include Michigan State, Monson Health Care and American Waste. Taken together, they use several thousand GTI bags every year. Also, GTI clients assemble and package products for numerous local companies such as Lear Corporation, the American Proficiency Institute, and Venturi.
GTI relies on two basic revenue streams – profits from its own manufacturing services and relationships with other businesses (about 55% of total revenue) and Medicaid funds (45%), filtered through the Northern Lake Community Mental Health Authority and North Country Community Health. Is. Based on the services provided by GTI.
Like many Up North manufacturers, GTI has faced challenges due to the epidemic.
“It has been difficult to fill staff positions,” Evans said, adding that wage levels are set by Medicaid’s repayment rate, but there is currently a pressure to raise wages by 18 per hour.
The epidemic has also eroded GTI’s doorman contract, but there are signs of recovery in other parts of the service sector. In particular, Evans sees group work as promising in hotel and school settings. Such a group is set up during lunch at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and then cleaned up. Other GTI enclaves provide household services at Grand Beach and Sugar Beach hotels. At present four enclaves are functioning and three new enclaves are being formed.
Evans sees other positive opportunities in community outreach. Although GTI has been active in the Grand Travers area for nearly 50 years, the strategic plan unveiled this January includes the goal of raising nonprofit awareness and raising fundraising revenue.
“We haven’t done much of this, but we’re seriously thinking about it,” he said. “We are looking at fundraising and special events. And we need to be more integrated with the community. ”
Putting aside all the challenges, numbers and strategies, Evans made it clear why GTI is important.
“It’s all about the client,” he said. “They are the whole reason for what we do.”
This column is sponsored by the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council (GTAMC). Its goal is to support a sustainable and globally competitive manufacturing sector for a strong economy; makegreatthings.org.