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Two-Shop Merger Means More Opportunity, Not Less

Jeff Jones may have a model for some workshops facing financial challenge.

Manager of Innovative Industries in Carthage for nine years, Jones has also become manager of Joplin Workshops, Inc. in a unique merger designed to better utilize limited funding for both workshops.

“It was bred out of necessity to shave some costs for both organizations,” he explained. “But I see it as an opportunity for both shops as well.”

Former Joplin Director Susan Adams first suggested the idea. She had joined that shop three years ago when the organization faced serious challenges, a position similar to that faced earlier by Jones in Carthage.

“She had turned things around,” he noted. “We were in a similar spot when I took over in Carthage. We’d suffered financially for a few years, and we had to hustle a little bit to become profitable. That’s also what we’re trying to do now.”

The merger began last summer and was finalized Oct. 1. Jones serves as executive director for both shops, as a Carthage employee and as a contractor for Joplin. Cammy Barton is now operations manager in Carthage, and Traci Tune fulfills that role in Joplin. Each shop retained their individual board of directors and other functions. Some areas may be consolidated in the future, but the biggest changes may involve increased opportunity and services for what is now a more connected organization.

“There are some synergies between each workshop,” Jones explained, noting Joplin’s recycling and the Carthage secure document service. “This gives us some access to customers we didn’t have before and creates opportunities for us to go after larger jobs because we have two locations and a combined workforce.”

There are challenges as well, starting with Jones driving between two shops located about 20 miles apart. “It does keep me hopping along pretty hard,” he laughed. “But it’s good because it’s created a lot of opportunity for both shops.”

The effort is also proceeding carefully. “We’re taking our time and figuring things out,” he stressed. “Right now, we want to maintain our identities. That may change at some point, but both organizations are community oriented. We want to keep that identity. The key is to do what’s best for our employees and make sure we have work for everyone.

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