Peckham Inc. - 2022 MFG Community Impact
This article will appear in the July/August 2023 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read past issues online.
The uniqueness and innovation surrounding Lansing-based Peckham Inc. is astounding. While known outwardly as an apparel manufacturer that produces clothing and tactical gear for the U.S. military, it is first and foremost a mission-driven social enterprise that is making life better for people with disabilities.
But that’s not all. Peckham also owns and operates a farm that uses sustainable practices to grow a diverse selection of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Other services include contact center operations, custodial services, supply chain solutions and packaging.
The various and unique lines of business may be the end product for this 501c3 non-profit, but it is the social mission that truly drives and inspires the entire organization. Because of its commitment to this underserved population and engagement with the city of Lansing and the state, Peckham is a highly deserving recipient of the 2022 MFG Community Impact Award.
“We are a business with a social mission,” says Lisa Webb Sharpe, Chief Operating Officer at Peckham. “Our mission is to provide job training for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. We provide the vocational rehabilitation services our team members need to either move up in Peckham or move out into the community.”
Roughly 50 percent of people with a stated disability are unemployed, and many are unable to live independently because of these types of barriers. Peckham has found a way to not only provide people with disabilities an opportunity to earn an income and valuable work skills, but also provides resources so they can realize a potential they never thought possible.
Peckham hopes to lead by example for other manufacturers struggling with talent acquisition and for the apparel industry as a whole. Forough Taji, Managing Director of Manufacturing, says they want to be an industry leader in injecting Industry 4.0 technologies into this legacy industry.
“Apparel manufacturing in the U.S. hasn’t been as advanced as other industries because the majority of this industry had moved outside of the U.S.,” says Taji. “There are certain technologies that will help us to progress in that pathway much faster and we are in the process of taking on some of those technologies.”
There’s a high level of expectation placed on all areas of the organization, but especially on the manufacturing side as Peckham is providing garments and equipment to service men and women.
“We’re making a number of cold-weather garments, wet-weather garments or other unique pieces of equipment that our service men and women need while in harm’s way,” says Brett Linton, Vice President of Manufacturing. “The quality with which we make those garments is critical.”
Webb Sharpe says winning the MFG Community Impact Award has been a great validation for the work Peckham does. It recognizes not only how they’re supporting team members within the organization but also supporting good things in the community such as partnerships with the Lansing Art Gallery, Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Humanities and the Arts Alliance.
“We were honored to have our work highlighted as well as our impact beyond the four walls of Peckham. We hope that we can serve as a model for others to have a positive impact in the community beyond the economic impact of wages and compensation,” says Webb Sharpe.
The people behind Peckham not only drive the mission but live it daily. Advancing its mission of providing opportunities and unrealized potential to people with disabilities is the fire that fuels its passion and that is why Peckham has been selected as the 2022 Community Impact award recipient.
The Manufacturing Community Impact Award is part of the annual Manufacturing Excellence Awards which celebrate the leaders and products that are pushing the industry forward. Learn more about the awards program and gala.