Spotlight: The Grape Box

Posted by Rumin Mann
August 22nd, 2011

This week I got a chance to visit The Grape Box in Burnaby and chat with Ruth Hoffman.  The Grape Box is a social enterprise supported by The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion.

They have a triple bottom-line business model. First and foremost, they offer high quality products at competitive prices with excellent customer service. Secondly, on an environmental note, all of their products are made from reclaimed western red cedar and pine beetle wood. Lastly, their social mandate is to create training and employment for adults with intellectual disabilities.

They currently employ 6 adults with intellectual disabilities at their Burnaby woodshop.  “We are fortunate to have found ideal employees to perform the tasks of cutting, sanding, planning, and engraving and who do not mind the repetitive nature of our work.  Our employees are highly motivated and appreciative of the opportunities to learn wood-working skills and even more thrilled to be paid minimum wage and be able to be contributing citizens to our community. Successfully matching skills to tasks is a key factor to managing our personnel costs and ultimately a sustainable operation,” says Ruth.

The Grape Box started off as a program in the 1980’s run by The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI). www.gobaci.com. With years of experience and a growing reputation for quality and service, The Grape Box was spun off into a separate social enterprise in 2007. Today they operate in Burnaby with over  4,500 sq ft. and an integrated workforce of 10.

Their name represents their flagship product – the wine box; however, they also produce outdoor furniture (Adirondack chairs, high and low-back chairs, planters and picnic tables); and a wide assortment of gift boxes for the corporate promotional market. Because they are a small shop, they are also able to accept requests for custom designs and have made table centerpieces, arbors, small bridges, coasters, and trays. They have a laser engraver on-site which allows them to produce high quality engraved products.

“Above and beyond our commitment to being fiscally and environmentally responsible, we chose this business because it offered employment opportunities to individuals with all types of abilities,” says Hoffman. Their philosophy is to build a society where everyone has the opportunity to be included, challenged and successful. “We want to be able to offer more jobs with barriers to employment and become one of BC’s prized business models,” says Ruth.

For more information on the Grape Box, please visit www.thegrapebox.com

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