2018-10-25 / Community

Thumb Industries celebrates 48 years of service at its annual luncheon

By Ben Muir


Rhonda Wisenbaugh (left), executive director of Thumb Industries, presents the Outstanding Employee Award to Kat Jones at a luncheon on Monday. 
Photo by Ben Muir Rhonda Wisenbaugh (left), executive director of Thumb Industries, presents the Outstanding Employee Award to Kat Jones at a luncheon on Monday. Photo by Ben Muir BAD AXE - Thumb Industries held its annual banquet last week in Bad Axe, where staff members received awards and the board reflected on accomplishments in 2017. Thumb Industries has three main plants, including manufacturing, recycling and the thrift store. It also has other facets, such as a janitorial crew, a snow removal crew and a lawn care team.

About 100 people gathered into the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bad Axe on Monday. The crowd mostly accounted for Thumb Industries staff members and about 30 of its consumers – trainees with disabilities or a barrier to employment – of which the company presently works with nearly 100.

Tina Haag was there - she has worked in the manufacturing sector for a year.


Katie Kolar presents at the annual Thumb Industries, Inc. luncheon. 
Photo by Ben Muir Katie Kolar presents at the annual Thumb Industries, Inc. luncheon. Photo by Ben Muir Mike Thornburg, who has bipolar disorder, also attended the luncheon - he works on the janitorial team. Thornburg moved to Huron County after having been shot multiple times while working undercover as a detective in Texas. Thornburg is the author of a book on mental illness and he’s working on a second.

Chris Hardenburg attended - he started as community services director at Thumb Industries in February – one of his responsibilities is welcoming clients to the company and finding the best fit for them.

Katie Kolar, a Thumb Industries board member, was the main speaker for the nearly half-hour presentation. She highlighted some of the services the company offered over the past year.

The manufacturing revenue was more than $128,000, Kolar said. Janitorial services cleaned more than 200,000 square feet of building space. The lawn crew generated more than $23,000 in revenue. The thrift store continued to grow – sales increased 21 percent from the previous year – with revenue totaled at $596,000. The recycling program saw $87,000 in revenue and has recycled more than 11 million pounds of paper, cardboard and plastic products since 2009. Additionally, eight consumers were placed in competitive employment this fiscal year, Kolar said.

Thumb Industries raised more than $48,000 in various fundraisers, including its annual Camel Races.

About $18,000 was given back to the community through donations to individuals, families and organizations in need.

“I have only touched on the accomplishments and activities of the past year,” Kolar said. “Thank you to all the businesses and individuals that continue to provide support to Thumb Industries.”

The last portion of the presentation was set aside for awards. Dave Ellicott, who’s the work services manager, recognized about 20 consumers for their outstanding work. Rhonda Wisenbaugh, executive director, presented the Outstanding Employee Award to Kat Jones. Kolar presented the Community Partner of the Year aware to Gemini Group, LLC. She also recognized five staff and board members for their years of service: Mike Dubs, five years; Karen Hass, five years; Kim Motz, 10 years; Jan Holz, 20 years; and Doug Brining, 30 years.

“Thumb Industries’ mission,” Kolar said, “is to provide support and opportunities that allow individuals to make informed choices in order for them to reach their highest capabilities.”

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