There’s a King County park and ride just outside its front door and a Sounder commuter station a mile away, making its new Auburn-based headquarters easy to get to for staff and customers.
Boeing, the bigger buyer of the aerospace parts its employees make, is less than two miles to the south.
And, given Auburn’s designation as an Urban Center for Innovative Partnerships under the wing of Washington State’s Innovative Partnership Zones (IPZ), its manufacturing division is inside the IPZ’s aeronautic cluster.
So, don’t tell the folks at Orion Industries’ that location doesn’t matter.
Indeed, Orion built its new, 100,000-square-foot facility at 1590 A St. NE. and moved in this March mostly because of location-specific benefits to its social mission and business enterprises just like those described above.
The company celebrated with a grand opening on Tuesday.
“Orion Industries is the coolest place to be in the state of Washington,” Gov. Jay Inslee told the crowd of more than 600.
“We call ourselves a social enterprise because we run business enterprises — our contact center and our aerospace manufacturing division — to serve people with barriers to employment through training, education and successful business enterprises,” said Kelly Maloney, marketing manager for Orion Industries.
Founded in 1957 as a vocational program for students with disabilities, Orion today also runs a training and employment division at its Auburn headquarters.
Uriah Moore, supervisor of the contact center, said that part of the company dates back to 2007.
“Orion conducted a study that year to determine how it could reach different populations in the disabled community better,” Moore said. “It determined at the time that Orion was doing a great job as far as the manufacturing sector, but it was reaching more men with cognitive disabilities. And they wanted to improve their ability to provide opportunities to women with physical disabilities. So at the time the company decided that an outsource contact center would be the best way to make that happen.”
That part of the business opened in 2008, taking on work for other companies should they determine that they don’t have the products or the services that they want to provide or they don’t have resources or staffing, making it more cost effective to have somebody else do it.
It has since proven, Moore said, to be a great resource for the company’s mission.
Its state-of-the-art aerospace manufacturing enterprise supplies precision-machined parts and sub-assemblies to aerospace customers throughout the world.
Orion is certified to the international aerospace manufacturing quality standards ISO 9001 and AS 9100, and is the recipient of the Boeing 2011 Supplier of the Year award, as well as receiving Boeing’s Performance Excellence Award for four consecutive years, from 2010 until 2013.
Orion’s Contact Center Services division features an outsource contact center that prepares program participants for careers in the customer contact industry. Its foundational operations program was developed to create a contact center employing people with disabilities that operates using recognized industry best practices. Its contact center is Certified HIPAA Compliant, Certified PCI Compliant, and has National Security Clearance.
And its training and employment division offers skills training and assessment to its aerospace and contact center businesses and to its office skills and customer service programs.
Orion’s office-based training programs use self-directed and group instruction to teach Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, keyboarding, customer service, filing, office machines and office etiquette, preparing participants for a variety of positions that require clerical and customer service skills.
Orion supports individuals in achieving their goals through job placement and job retention services.
Dual commitments by King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Representative Pete von Reichbauer to support Orion’s social mission and create jobs coupled with the City of Auburn’s outreach helped make the whole thing happen.
Constantine noted Orion’s “amazing 80 percent retention rate for workers placed in jobs.” He made a case for growth in King County being more than about economics, but also about equity and social justice.
“When Orion Industries succeeds, our community succeeds,” Constantine said.
Ricky Sterling, lead hydraulic technician, Adam Gibson, hydraulic mechanic Level 2, Devon Jameson, hydraulic inspector, and hydraulic technician Austen Buck described to people touring Orion Industries headquarters on Tuesday just what the components they make do in airplanes. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter