Khrome USA, a tenant of TDC since 2020, is a system integrator and component manufacturer in the mass transit sector. Khrome has headquarters in Quebec with a USA branch in Plattsburgh within the TDC Air Industrial Park. The company specializes in engineering, manufacturing and integration within the transportation industry. They design and manufacture seat systems, toilet module for trains, operator cab and driver desks, advanced composites for esthetic applications and they integrate mechanical and electrical systems. You'll see some of these designs and products on the Long Island Railroad (NY LIRR-MNR M7), New Jersey Transit, JFK Airport Shuttle, Toronto GO-TRANSIT, Montreal Metro and many more. If you've taken transit into Manhattan, Montreal or headed to JFK, the very seats you use have a direct connection to the North Country.
We'd like to highlight an ongoing partnership involving Red Points Enterprises, Khrome USA, and the ARC Workforce Network. This spotlight may not only assist in solving staffing issues for other employers in the Greater Plattsburgh area, but generate a more inclusive work environment by bridging the gap between education and employment opportunities in the field of technology.
Khrome has recently utilized the Advocacy and Resource Center's (ARC) Workforce Network in Plattsburgh by working closely with the career developer, Deron Martin to discuss Khrome's staffing needs and also the needs of those in the Workforce Network program. It is important to point out, the ARC Workforce Network is not an employment agency, they are an employment support agency.
According to the ARC, the Workforce Network facilitates competitive work in integrated work settings for individuals with disabilities for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred, and who need ongoing support services in order to perform or maintain their job. Workforce Network provides assistance such as job coaching, assistive technology, specialized job training, and individually tailored support.
There are three areas of support within the Workforce Network: Job Development, Development of Natural Supports and Pathway to Employment. Each area ensures candidates are comfortable with every facet of the job, from transportation to assembly to social interaction. Job coaches or, employment specialists play an integral role in new employment. Over the years, the ARC Workforce Network has placed thousands of individuals within our region in suitable positions, giving an invaluable sense of independence.
This partnership between Red Points Enterprises, Khrome USA and the ARC works in harmony for Michelle Sahai, Plant Manager at Khrome and President at Red Points Enterprises. Red Points works with the ARC to complete the hiring processes on behalf of Khrome, Khrome provides the scope of work and a supportive work environment. The partnership also provides a valuable opportunity for individuals to develop skills they need to succeed in the manufacturing industry while also addressing issues of inequity and lack of diversity in the field.
"We are working with ARC to building an introductory scope of work for people with disabilities to try out manufacturing life by doing things like: pick and pack, warehouse activities, simple assembly, and packaging. They would work with us 1-3 months and hopefully build up the confidence to apply for full time positions at other companies.
—Michelle Sahai, Khrome USA Plant Manager
Khrome offers a no pressure, casual workplace. The company, and Michelle meets people where they are, which leads to employee retention success. In Michelle's experience, employees that are neurodivergent or suffer from high levels of anxiety, flourish with repetitive work. It is a low stress workplace, and the repetition gives a sense of security and accomplishment which leads to success. According to Michelle, the manufacturing industry marries well with those neurodivergent, especially those with autism.
"I can't say enough about this partnership. I want all employees to feel successful.
The ARC Workforce Network offers a person-centered approach to employment by first assisting individuals identify a career or industry through unpaid volunteer experiences, then on-the-job support with coaches. Placements arrive at their new job with coaches every day for two weeks, then the coaches will check in once a month. In the future, Michelle would like to continue the Khrome-ARC partnership and perhaps create a job role testing site. Candidates may test different job roles to find which job or field is right for them.
As prejudice and marginalization is still prominent in hiring practices, Michelle reiterates that there must be more work to see through filters, and/or adjust filters about capabilities and disabilities. According to The Harvard Business Review, the unemployment rate among people that are neurodivergent remains high, with some estimates coming in at over 80%. As disability, equity, and inclusion efforts have increased throughout industries, companies now see the other forms of diversity beyond race and gender. However, the number of companies involved in neurodiversity hiring initiatives still needs improvement.