Play It Forward
Our Balls Go a Little Bit Further
In case it matters to you, you should know that every used golf ball you buy from us helps enrich the lives of people with disabilities. That’s because we chose to build our new state-of-the-art used golf ball processing facility at Lapeer Team Work’s GO Industries in Lapeer, MI.
What's Lapeer Team Work?
Darn good question. Lapeer Team Work’s GO Industries has been serving individuals with disabilities in and around Lapeer County, Michigan for over 50 years. GO offers many different support programs including jobs and vocational training. Regional manufacturers hire GO to to handle assembly, sorting, packaging and shipping jobs. Its main goal is to help each person reach their maximum employment potential in the community.
The Cool Part
In the past, facilities like GO have mostly, or exclusively employed only people with disabilities. But their ultimate goal is to train people to be placed into jobs outside of the facility in more inclusive work environments. Great goal, but guess what? Not everyone wants to, or can be successfully placed in outside employment. That’s where the Golf Ball Divers Alliance comes in.
We offer GO a different and progressive way to create that more inclusive environment. By building our new golf ball facility at GO – capable of processing, packaging and shipping millions of golf balls each year – we created a diverse array of job opportunities. And we filled them with a mix of the best qualified people from within GO and the larger community. So, instead of pushing people out, we brought the community to GO. In short, we helped pioneer a new model for creating a community inclusive work environment. In tech-speak, bringing the community to Go is called “Reverse Integration.”
How it All Came to Be
Before there was a Golf Ball Divers Alliance, there was Jim Starr, a local Michigan resident and a dedicated golf ball diver. Jim (or Big Jim) is somewhat of a visionary. He came to GO 6 years ago for help cleaning and sorting the used golf balls he collected. But once the cooperative was formed, the alliance needed a greatly expanded, more complex operation capable of fulfilling the thousands of orders that come in monthly through on-line channels, including our e-commerce store (GolfBallDivers.com).
Rather than taking this work outside, Big Jim and Justin Terry, GO’s Division Manager, convinced the other divers to build the whole operation at GO. Often the work companies bring to GO is just a step or two in a larger process. This is different. We brought a complete start up business to GO, creating richer and more rewarding job opportunities, and the dignity and self-esteem that come with them. We also helped GO establish a template for future integrated opportunities, one GO is eager to replicate with other customers. Thanks, Jim and Terry. And now you know the full story behind why we divers like to say our balls go a little bit further.
If you want to see our facility, meet Big Jim and some of the people who work at GO, checkout this video from Michigan's Fox 66 News.