|Disabled workers at the factory in City Deep,putting Lesco's products together.|
The company’s switches and sockets are locally produced, making it one of the few companies in the country that don’t import its products, thus earning it the Proudly South African stamp. Lesco is also heavily involved in the upliftment of people with special needs from the Hamlet Foundation by employing them at the company’s two factories, one of which is based in City Deep, and the other in Honey Dew. Lesco supplies raw materials to its factories, and the employees -- whose special needs vary -- assemble the products. The Hamlet Foundation was established in 1954, and the workshops were opened in 1994; before this, the workshop in City Deep was just a home for the individuals with special needs. The company has since received the Hamlet Foundation President’s award: “This recognition was a confirmation that our efforts at Lesco were well received and had achieved value for the home and, in particular, for the people staying there.” says Shapiro.
Workshop manager, Hans Pater watches over the workers and along with a dedicated team ensures everything at the workshop in City Deep runs accordingly, “I’m like their father,” says Pater. Some of the workers are intelligent enough to be placed in positions outside of the factory. However, some are too emotionally vulnerable to be placed in a normal environment. Pater and his team also get assistance from the community in ensuring that those who live further away arrive at work safely, the rest are transported with private buses. Pater admits that it is a complicated workshop, and some of the workers will only do work when they want to, in which case Pater and his team must just be patient with them. “Nobody is useless here, everybody can do something,” says Pater. He also adds, “We don’t give them too much sympathy. I won’t let them use their disability as a crutch, they can work.”
“We have been able to provide much needed employment, espe¬cially for the mentally challenged people we train and employ to assemble our products, and we have provided more and more South African people with safe and reliable products,” concludes Shapiro.