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PLUS Co. partners with biotech startup in Salem

Union Leader Correspondent

November 19. 2017 10:43PM
Three participants of the Nashua-based PLUS Co. work program work closely with other Foxx employees assembling products in a cleanroom at the Salem company. (COURTESY)

NASHUA — Determined to find a place where adults with developmental disabilities can thrive and reach independence, the PLUS Co. of Nashua is partnering with a new startup company in Salem.

Five clients at PLUS, an acronym for People Learning Useful Skills, are now working at Foxx Life Sciences, a biotech startup that provides engineering services and proprietary products to leading research and distribution companies for a variety of applications.

Foxx Life Sciences is one of about 50 employers in the region working with PLUS clients. Since 1987, PLUS has placed nearly 600 individuals in jobs in various occupations with about 300 employers, according to Mark Robillard, manager of career and business services at PLUS.

“Having adults with disabilities in the workforce is good for the community, the businesses and the individuals,” Robillard said. “They tend to have an extremely high sense of pride when it comes to work, and that is contagious for the rest of the workplace.”

Clients with high-functioning autism typically display great attention to detail, which is beneficial for companies with quality assurance metrics, he said. They also follow directions and procedures with ease, making them a natural fit to the workforce, Robillard said.

Companies that are willing to hire adults with developmental disabilities or acquired brain injuries often see an improvement in the morale at their workplaces, he said, adding PLUS clients are happy individuals who enjoy working and becoming productive citizens.

The five PLUS clients now employed at Foxx Life Sciences in Salem are the first group of PLUS members to work in a cleanroom environment

“They like getting dressed up and putting on a uniform and being part of a team. There is a sense of pride with the products they are working on,” Robillard said.

Foxx Life Sciences, which provides lab engineering services and equipment, said the PLUS workers are responsible for assembling special-order laboratory products. The sterile pieces are meticulously assembled and shipped to labs all over the world where cutting-edge research is taking place, according to a news release.

Thomas Taylor, Foxx president and chief executive officer, said the workers are a valuable asset to the company and have made a positive impact on productivity. The inclusive work opportunity has fostered a culture of acceptance that Foxx hopes will continue.

“Our growth has been amazing over the past four years with 42 percent growth last year and 46 percent the year before,” Taylor said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with the PLUS Co. to add more great employees to the Foxx team.”

The PLUS Co., with a mission to empower individuals with developmental disabilities by providing support and services that maximize independence, is the top placement agency in Greater Nashua with 115 individuals working at various employers during fiscal year 2016, according to Robillard.

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