Stephanie Zimmermann, BS decision science and management information systems ‘93, has long had a personal mission to improve the lives of others near and far. This trait is reinforced through her company’s business and their now prosperous partnership. Zimmermann co-founded Lend A Box with her sister, Janice Gambaccini in 2012 to serve a need that just about everyone experiences at one time or another—moving.
The sturdy, stackable and eco-friendly boxes that Zimmermann and Gambaccini rent out to their clients are no doubt a clear upgrade over the traditional carboard boxes that most people tend to use. For their client base, which is largely residential but increasing commercial, Lend A Box cleans, delivers, and picks up the boxes after they’re finished. With up to 80 percent of the boxes rented out at a time, it’s critical to get them cleaned as efficiently as possible for the next client. This is where Lend A Box’s partnership with MVLE comes into play. MVLE is a Northern Virginia nonprofit dedicated to providing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Since partnering with MVLE in October of 2018, Zimmermann has seen an increase of 57 percent efficiency over the handwash method they used prior. The crates are cleaner, and the team solution works better than any other way they have used before. “Because we restructured the process in how we clean boxes, our MVLE crew is more efficient and the boxes are cleaner than the way we used to do it! Our crew rocks our warehouse every week,” says Zimmermann.
How has this assembly line operation evolved into such a well-oiled machine? MVLE has a project manager who scouts out the job location as well as the skills needed to complete the task. Job candidates are then placed into the roles that are determined best suitable for them to succeed individually, as a team and for Lend A Box. The job placing situation is an ongoing discussion between MVLE and Lend A Box to insure an optimum outcome.
Many businesses mistakenly see individuals with disabilities as employees who would require too much instruction and may slow down the process. However, this partnership proves the opposite is true. By strategically placing the individuals in the right line of work, their strengths are embraced, allowing them to succeed and contribute. “MVLE is working to reverse those statements and show that, yes, individuals with disabilities are the right people for the job, and yes, they do have those skills,” says April Pinch-Keeler, president and CEO of MVLE. In the warehouse at Lend A Box, the workers’ tenacity and focus allow them to be much more efficient than most other people doing the same kind of work.
As Lend A Box continues to grow, Stephanie Zimmermann wants to make sure they stay connected to the community. She has seen the clear evidence that businesses can get back just as much in return when they get involved for the greater good.