Pride and Independence

Pride and Independence

With a keen eye on the sky, Will Ford just may be Penn-Mar’s official weatherman. Bump into him anywhere and he’ll give you a forecast update; lately it’s been cloudy with a chance of rain… “lots of rain.” On the job, however, it’s pretty much always sunny.

As much as he loves watching and reporting on the weather, Will, 54 and longtime Penn-Mar resident, loves to work. For the past year, he’s been happily employed at Continental Paper Grading (CPG) in York, a waste paper recycling facility, which opened in 2012, and processes thousands of tons of waste paper a year, serving customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The plant is one of a network of CPG’s waste paper and pulp processing facilities, warehouses, and sales offices throughout North America. The company, headquartered in Chicago, Ill., will turn 100 next year.

Prior to landing his job at CPG, Will worked at Quad/ Graphics for more than a year before the company closed its doors at the start of 2017. Penn-Mar’s Competitive Employment Program team quickly started a new job search for Will, and as Courtney Harless, PA Employment Support Manager, said, it took nine months to find a perfect match with CPG. The process of identifying potential businesses and their labor needs and matching them with an individual’s skills and talents can be a long one, but ultimately a beneficial one both for the employer and the job seeker.

“Will is a very hard worker and is in his element with consistent, repetitive tasks that require a steady hand,” said Courtney. “At CPG we found a job where Will can apply the same production skills he’s honed over the years and put to good use at Quad/Graphics.”

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Will can be found in CPG’s warehouse amid hundreds of boxes of waste paper. “The boxes come in on skids, and I have to unload them,” said Will, who explained that with his box cutter he opens up the boxes and places the paper contents onto a conveyor belt to a giant industrial shredder. He then cuts up the boxes for recycling.

“Everything has gone very smoothly,” said Troy Yerger, CPG Plant Manager and Will’s supervisor. “The entire experience has been great for all our employees!”

“They’ve really taken a liking to him,” said Courtney. “Like anywhere he’s worked, Will has formed great relationships with his colleagues and supervisor. He’d only been there a few weeks when Troy invited him along with his other coworkers to his house on a Saturday for crabs and beer. Will was very excited about that. They include him in all their extra activities, which is awesome.”

When not at work, Will, a big Ravens fan, keeps himself busy socially, and enjoys bowling, cookouts and participating in the Art Program at Penn-Mar. He’s close to his brothers Johnny, Mark, Tim, and Wallace, and his sister Jeri and their families, and is looking forward to getting together with everyone at Thanksgiving. His Mom Jean lives close by in Gettysburg.

“He’s quite the social butterfly,” said Courtney “He likes people and its part of the reason why he’s fit in so well at work.”

Landing the job at CPG has given Will the opportunity to maintain a level of independence and social mobility he’s come to enjoy over the years. He’s very proud of the work he does and enthusiastically tells you. But what makes him even prouder is, in his own words: “Earning my own money.”

Although there may be a cloud in the sky, and threatening rain, it can be hard to deny that it’s usually pretty sunny on payday.

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