Zpacks Hires the Blind, Quality Remains Unchanged.
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
FLORIDA - On Tuesday afternoon, Zpacks issued a press release in which they went public with a new outreach program they call “Sew Talented”.
The press release, which was posted to Zpacks' website, states that Sew Talented is a joint work initiative between the Florida-based ultralight tent manufacturer and the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).
“This program aims to bring highly talented blind individuals to Zpacks’ manufacturing in order to provide visually impaired individuals fulfilling and insightful work,” states Zpacks Owner Joe Valesko.
According to the press release, Zpacks has been piloting this program since 2004. Of the experience thus far, Valesko had the following to say, “We have found that blind people are capable of meeting our seam quality thresholds without issue."
Reportedly, by mid-2014, Zpacks had replaced their entire sewing and QA staff with Sew Talented Employees. “We realized that we could save money by hiring blind employees and turning off all the warehouse lights! It saves us thousands of dollars in electricity costs per year plus, it is eco friendly” Valesko told reporters via Skype from his second home in New York.
In 2018, Zpacks and the AFB began laying the groundwork for the Sew Talented program in order to formalize their efforts and advertise to the broader blind community.
When asked why this program was kept a secret for years, Valesko stated, “Going public with this program now is a part of our efforts to become more transparent as a company by 2022. We simply want the ultralight industry to know that we literally cut every corner available in order to give our customers the world’s lightest gear. It is who we are.”
The press release notes that Sew Talented employees are paid standard Zpacks wages. “We treat them exactly the same as our traditional employees. Well, with the exception of vision insurance.” says company HR spokesperson Teresa Thrussell with a wink.
Valesko noted on Twitter that they are always looking to hire into the Sew Talented program. If you or a loved can’t see yourself as a future Zpacks employee, Valesko encourages sending an email to their customer service inbox. A representative will respond in 2-3 months.