FAIRMONT – Sanitation has always been important, and the pandemic has proven it.
In years past, workers employed by the Fairmont operations shop were assigned tasks ranging from basic assembly to finishing floors. While they still take care of these and other tasks these days crews are often sent out to clean up. Or, more precisely, to disinfect. When last year’s pandemic hit, demand for cleaning and disinfection soared.
“We started it during COVID,” said Eric Freeman, executive director of the Op Shop. “We started going in and spraying buildings. “
“Disinfection has become a new division of our janitorial services,” said Tammi Morgan, assistant manager and chief financial officer of the Op Shop. “Our teams hand clean the most affected areas and spray entire areas with the disinfectant mist.”
Due to this new demand for disinfection services, the Op Shop invested in commercial disinfectant sprayers last year.
“At first it was difficult to get the machines,” Morgan said. “We had customers all over the state who wanted the disinfection service. “
The Op Shop has become a trusted source for state agencies to hire crews for cleaning and sanitizing. Often, crews are dispatched to state-owned facilities, such as rest areas or government buildings. “We have 10 employees who work out of a rest area in Bridgeport,” Morgan said. “And every rest area in the state of West Virginia is maintained by people with disabilities. “
The Op Shop is classified as a state community rehabilitation program and, through this designation, the Op Shop is qualified to run state missions.
“If a state agency decides to go with a workshop like ours, they don’t have to go through the tendering process,” Freeman said. “So as long as we have fair prices in the market and can prove it, we get the job or another shop like ours can get it. “
There are 27 workshops across the state that are similar to the Fairmont Op Shop, and these workshops employ hundreds of people with disabilities. The Fairmont Op Shop currently employs 104 people.
Services are especially valuable for commercial properties, where jobs are often so important that hiring cleaning crews becomes a job in itself. By working with the Op Shop, property managers are able to secure an entire team with just one phone call.
“I don’t think people realize what our workers are doing and what they are contributing to society,” Freeman said. “We have 45 people [working] at Fairmont State. And ”, he added,“ we cleaned the lottery building, the 13 floors. “
But perhaps the bigger story is how the Op Shop helps its workers. Everyone who comes to the Op Shop for a job has a story to tell, and it’s usually based on nerve-wracking struggles.
“We are trying to help people,” Morgan said. “Our mission is to help people with disabilities find work. Disabilities can be physical or mental, and can include drug addiction.
“People come to us who have just come out of rehab and we are trying to help them get back on their feet,” Morgan said.
The work of the Op Shop does not end with cleaning and maintenance. Crews are often sent on jobs that require stripping and waxing floors, cleaning windows, maintaining exterior floors and pressure washing.
The Columbia Street location is also home to the Op Shop printing operation with services that include banners, signs, brochures, show programs, business cards and even stickers and magnetic signs. . Screen printing and embroidery services are also available.