Orion Industries

Changing the lives of people with barriers to employment by building esteem and creating opportunities through mentoring, training, and education.
"Orion is a big part of who I am now. Orion helped me turn a corner by letting me prove to myself what I can do, not what I can’t do.”
– Zakari

What do you need to maintain a stable, fulfilling job? You may consider salary, benefits, transportation, or a comfortable working environment. For many, the barriers to stable employment may be a combination of a criminal record, years of unemployment, a lack of marketable hard skills, low self-confidence, disabilities, and uncertainty that if even they secured a job, they would be able to succeed.

For millions of Americans, these high barriers to employment are a daily reality. These Americans “on the margins” often have a difficult time finding a job—and retaining that job is another story. As a result, many are unemployed long term, which carries with it another set of barriers to finding a job.

The Solution

Orion Industries removes barriers to employment by providing intensive and comprehensive job training and education in their world-class business enterprises. Orion offers paid training for those who are seeking skills training in aerospace, automotive, defense, and marine manufacturing; contact center services, and office and customer service training.

Using an effective combination of counselors, job developers who help candidates overcome barriers and find employment, and trained mentors in specialized fields—in addition to soft and hard skills training—Orion helps participants gain the experience and, very importantly, the confidence to find a rewarding career and retain it. The company’s social enterprises set a high standard of excellence, one that participants rise to meet. Indeed, 84 percent of participants who graduate the Orion program retain their jobs a year after placement. After a candidate finds a job, Orion stays in touch with that participant, checking in on their progress and updates to help candidates not just find a job, but keep it. The doors are always open at Orion.

With world-class facilities in Auburn and Mukilteo, Washington and Fort Eustis, Virginia, Orion Industries served 267 participants in its manufacturing training and job placement programs in 2016—the majority of whom found employment in their community—and 62 in the Office Skills and Customer Service, and Contact Center training programs. With competitive wages and full-time benefits, many Orion participants clear the hurdles of long-term unemployment, and find themselves in fulfilling and rewarding careers.

The Story

Orion was founded in 1957 by a group of parents whose vision was to provide vocational training to their children as they transitioned out of high school special education classes. Their goal was to create an organization capable of sustaining itself on production revenues rather than on government grants, while preparing people with disabilities for competitive employment. Over the years, the company endeavored with a variety of business enterprises and eventually transitioned into metal fabrication, developed a machine shop in the South Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown, and developed a relationship with the Boeing Company as part of Boeing’s Community Manufacturing Partnership. Since that time, Orion has built a state of the art aerospace manufacturing enterprise and supplies precision machined parts and subassemblies from its headquarters in Auburn, WA, to aerospace customers throughout the world. In 2007, Orion opened its Clerical and Customer Service training program and in in 2009, Orion opened a new Contact Center Services division. Over 60 years after its founding, Orion continues to find new and innovative ways to provide career opportunities for program participants and to fulfill the vision of its founders.

Stand Together Foundation Partnership

Orion Industries is a 2017 Stand Together Foundation Catalyst. Through participation in the Catalyst Program, Orion Industries receives training from industry experts in organizational development, branding, measurement and growth, and strategic relationships to amplify their impact and strategically expand their reach.

Auburn, WA
John Theisen
President and CEO
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John joined Orion in 2000 as president and chief executive officer. A graduate of Washington State University School of Business, he has worked in various executive capacities in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with Westin Hotels, Restaurants Unlimited, Frederick and Nelson Department Stores, and Seattle's Best Coffee. John is an experienced executive with expertise in building strategic plans, developing strong management teams, turning around underperforming companies, and positioning companies for expansion. John actively serves in various leadership capacities including the Aerospace Futures Alliance, Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center, and Auburn Regional Airpor
Mukilteo, WA
Fort Eustis, VA
Success Metrics
Percent success rate on individuals entering programs
Percent of those placed in jobs retain employment in that position after a year
Participants served in Orion Manufacturing training and job placement programs in 2016
participants served in Office Skills and Customer Service, and Contact Center training programs in 2016
Hourly average wage with benefits
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