Oswego Industries was founded in December 1968, when the workshop of The Arc of Oswego County became an independent agency, with its own board of directors.
In 1974, Miller Brewing Company bought 415 acres, in nearby Volney, and built a brewery, the workshop experienced a transformation. Miller Brewing Company offered an opportunity for year-round work in pallet repair, box stitching, and lawn maintenance.
As sister agencies, the Arc and Oswego Industries quickly established cooperative alliances for the developing and owning of properties, and division of services, while sharing of staff resources to continue providing high-quality, broad-based services to individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD).
Throughout the 1980s, Oswego Industries/The Arc of Oswego County operated an infant program known as Infant & Preschool Developmental Services or IPDS. In 1993, this program became an approved provider of Early Intervention Services (EI) under the auspices of the Health Department.
Growth and Expansion
The 1990s also saw the growth of social and recreational programs, such as the Respite program which is now administered through The Arc. Respite aides support individuals as they engage with the community through activities such as bowling, fishing, and more, based on the individual interests of those we serve.
In 1990, Oswego Industries was approached by county officials and asked to operate the county’s planned Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Volney. The MRF was opened in 1991 and was operated by Oswego Industries under an agreement with Oswego County. The facility received, sorted, processed, and marketed recyclable materials from Oswego County residents and industry. Newspapers, magazines, cardboard, office paper, and textiles were recycled, along with glass, metal, and plastic containers. The MRF employed approximately 25 employees and up to 12 temporary employees as needed.
In 1994, OI/The Arc developed a Senior Day Habilitation Program for elderly individuals who wished to retire from the agency’s vocational programs. Currently, this is housed in the Hughes Building at 314 Park Street. Individuals who participate in this program enjoy gardening and a variety of other activities.
Contract work remained sporadic until a government contract to make disposable hospital gowns under National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH) was awarded to OI in 1982. This was the start of the Textiles Department. This department has expanded to include government contract and commercial work, manufacturing sewn items ranging from health care products to decorative pet collars. Since 1995, the largest yearly sewing contract has been the manufacturing of scrubs, made specifically for Niagara Mohawk (now National Grid), New York Power Authority, Entergy, Ginna, and Constellation.
In 1990, a national tissue paper distributor approached OI to count, fold, collate, package, and ship its product to retail outlets. From small beginnings, this contract grew into a major production area, providing work and training opportunities for individuals with a wide variety of skill levels. At its peak, approximately 130 individuals plus hourly supplemental and support staff prepared shipments to be sent to over 1,500 locations worldwide.
Northeast Recycling (NR), because of the “New York State Bottle Bill” opened its doors for business in 1983. NR purchased used beverage containers from regional distributors, then sorted, processed, and resold the materials to recycling Companies like Alcan Aluminum Products (Novelis). NR was Oswego Industries’ first attempt to run an “Affirmative Business.” It employed six full-time employees year-round and an additional six during the busy season.
Oswego Industries also supplied services to beverage distributors for pick-up, sorting, counting, and processing of used beverage containers. Initially, collection services were limited to stores within Oswego County. In 1995, when Oswego Industries acquired a business, that supplied container collection and processing services, in the greater Rochester, Syracuse, and the North Country, Oswego Industries collected containers from over 750 retail and redemption center accounts located in 19 counties. At its peak, Oswego Industries counted and processed over 60 million used beverage containers.
Partnership with Novelis and the TSA
There have been a variety of small contracts, starting with the assembly of thermocouples, wire stripping, and recently packaging silicon for Novelis. Cloth bags are produced by the Textiles Department and then filled with a precise amount of silicon. Bags are sewn shut and shipped to Novelis for use at their plant in Oswego.
In 2010, Oswego Industries was awarded a contract to assemble belts for the Transportation Safety Administration. The belts are made from BioThane®, a material that is more durable, cleanable, stronger, and easier to maintain than leather. In 2019 Oswego Industries began the manufacturing of both BioThane® and web belts for retail sale
To support individuals in our production areas, Oswego Industries is committed to ongoing extensive training. Assistive devices are available to help expand the potential and productivity of individuals.
Contract Cleaning and Custodial
The Contract Cleaning and Custodial program was set up to handle daily cleaning at Oswego Industries, including the Hughes Building, and the Northeast Warehouse. The program served as a training opportunity for individuals and later became a job training site for Oswego County’s Workfare Program and gradually expanded with contracts to clean various offices and business sites throughout Oswego County.
In 2001, when a large agency in Syracuse closed, OI was asked to pick up several cleaning contracts that the agency had been operating in Onondaga County under NYSID contracts. OI stepped in to fill this void and assured continued employment for Onondaga-based individuals who would have lost jobs and income.
As Oswego Industries experienced tremendous growth and diversification of its services. Through our Career Employment Services division, the agency assists individuals with career development, including job readiness training and career exploration.
Oswego Industries strives to give adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities a purpose through employment, with external opportunities through Career Services and internal opportunities as well. Our Business Services division provides high-quality work and efficient production for area businesses at a competitive cost. Services currently available for contract work include custodial and janitorial services, textiles, assembly & packaging, warehousing & fulfillment, document scanning, and quality assurance.