One Year Celebration of the Airey Dining Facility

In 2018 Skils’kin began food services operations at the Airey Dining Center. The restaurant is open seven days a week, including holidays. The daily service has regularly rotating seasonal items like sandwiches, Italian, grill food, soups, and a variety of options to meet any dietary needs. The Skils’kin team has played a critical support role in making the facility clean and functional for the Servicemen and women of Grand Forks in the past year.
Skils’kin’s involvement with the AbilityOne program is a critical part of our success and allows us to bring our mission to life across the country, creating over one hundred jobs in dining facilities alone. The addition of the Airey Dining Center was an exciting opportunity to develop a new team and build success through Skils’kin’s values.
Looking back on the past year, the beginning stages had a rocky start compared to how the team operates now. From August to November, the team was undergoing even more transitions as a new project manager was being hired. In order to ease the workload members of Skils’kin’s Leadership team stepped in to support and develop the operation. By November Christine Johnson was selected as the new project manager and operations really began to take shape.
Christine Johnson came together with a team of 20 to take up the supporting role at the Airey Dining Center, managing dishwashing, facility cleanliness and cashiering. From the beginning, it wasn’t a perfectly clear path, but through connecting and understanding each other’s strengths Christine and her team began to understand what the facility needed and how they were best suited to meet those needs. Through the winter the team was well underway. By taking note of the tools and equipment they needed the team was able to do their best work through the support they received from Skils’kin Leadership, the Military, Aramark Staff, and the Grand Forks Community.
Soon it was no longer an issue of understanding the workload, the focus was continually developing a strong team that was ready to grow with the operations. Throughout the year Christine had regular turnover that encouraged her to promote from within, honoring those who wanted to take on more responsibility and see the facility succeed. From the original team of 20, 5 are still working at Airey today. The crew began to focus on the culture they were creating and were mindful of each other through communication and accommodations. This core continues to influence new hires and welcomes them to the team. Another big key to their hiring success, outside of maintaining a great culture, was partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and WorkSource, the local VocRehab center. They have been big supporters of Skils’kin’s mission and help connect many great employees to our company.
Now looking back a full year later, Airey Dining Center is stronger than ever. The teams from each shift came together to celebrate and reflect on the year. Lots of good food was served and relationships were strengthened between crews. As excited as we are about our successes in the past, we are equally excited about the opportunities in the future. Growth and opportunities for promotions are rich and programs supporting employees’ needs are on the horizon. After a year like this, the crews at the Grand Forks Air Force Base are chasing down every opportunity to make their community better.

Acting with Accountability

Skils’kin takes even the small things seriously. It allows us to provide exceptional service in all of our departments. From Employment to Commercial Services to Payee Services, each employee at Skils’kin is responsible for looking over the details and getting things done right. This commitment sets us apart. It allows us to manage unpredictable situations with greater confidence and control.
The Quality Assurance Department is the driver of our new technology at Skils’kin. They allow us to innovate, track data, and create solutions. Recently, Skils’kin was able to leverage our technology to ensure client safety and employee accountability when an allegation was made regarding our services. From this claim, Quality Assurance launched an internal investigation. They began to aggregate data and facts surrounding the situation that ultimately refuted the accusation.
Quickly and easily we were able to determine what really happened, and it gave us the opportunity to live out our values. Through our innovative technology, we were able to act with integrity as we brought forward critical information, and ensuring accountability. The case was resolved and everyone involved had reason to be at ease with the outcome.
Skils’kin is always striving to get things right. Whether it is providing better services, creating a stronger financial plan, or protecting our people, Skils’kin prioritizes our innovation and our ability to get things done right.

Why We Work, Featuring Ben Rascoff

Why do I work? Four simple words that subjected me to hours of introspection. The easy part was recounting the variety of jobs I’ve been fortunate to have. The first job I can recall (if you can really call it a “job”) was picking up pinecones in the yard while my dad raked. “A penny a pinecone,” he’d say. I thought that was a pretty fair deal and was very happy accepting my two dollars or so after clearing the front and back yards. Then there was the paper route I did for a few years with my buddy, back when kids delivering papers was still a thing in Spokane. That was quite a lesson in discipline as we quickly learned that no matter how hard we tried, 4:45 a.m. arrived every day (rain or shine!) along with large stacks of newspapers that needed to be folded and delivered. When I turned 16, I immediately sought part-time employment and landed a job bagging groceries at the Rosauers on 14th and Lincoln. Over the years I’ve also worked at a number of restaurants washing dishes, bussing tables, serving, and tending bar. I’ve been a telemarketer (briefly!), worked at a local newspaper, been the guy that places flyers on your front door, and currently work as an attorney. Looking back, “work” has been one of the most consistent things in my life. So … why is it that I work?
My knee-jerk response to the question is “money”, and I suspect that is most people’s immediate response. However, the pennies I earned with pine cones or paper delivery weren’t necessary to my survival; they instead marked the beginning lessons of independence, pride in a job well done, and the development of my character to acquire the discipline in doing what needs to be done and achieving self-satisfaction and self-sufficiency. These traits exist not just weekdays between 9:00 to 5:00, but in all aspects of my life. I am certain that, upon reflection, the vast majority of us would agree that we receive more from our “work” than just money.
People involved in soliciting and collecting charitable donations know that one of the motivating factors for a donor is the positive feelings that the donor experiences when they give a gift, be it a gift of their time or money. In other words, people give not only to help the people and causes they believe in, but because it also makes them feel good. Humans, for better or worse, are inherently self-interested creatures. I am no different.
Why do I work? Well, I certainly work to provide money for myself and my family. I also work to genuinely help people and provide value to the world where I can. But, I admit it. I also work because it makes me feel good. Work allows me to feel like I contribute something to my community. It gives me a sense of independence and accomplishment, and feelings of skill and pride. I am not only giving by working, but I am taking something from it as well; “work” is important for my wellbeing.

-Ben Rascoff

Drive to Succeed

Skils’kin is a company that finds stories of success in every aspect of our operations. The reason why is because we hire employees who want to work and overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. Ashley Ewing is a newly promoted supervisor of the Malmstrom Airforce Base custodial contract. Ashley was hired in 2015 as a custodian. She worked on the base for one year then, due to health complications, she left the company.
Nearly three years later, Ashley returned to the Malmstrom Air Force Base and began working as a custodian again, but she held a deeper drive to succeed. With her new ambition and goals in mind, Ashley inquired about the Custodial Supervisor position. In order to gain the promotion, Ashley needed to demonstrate her ability to lead through her actions. She needed to display strong work ethics, communication and leadership skills, and a commitment to her team at Skils’kin, and finally, she would need a driver’s license.
Over the following months, Ashley demonstrated her abilities to be a leader and understand the responsibilities of the supervisor role, all while studying for her driving exam. After taking the test Ashely received her results and did not pass. Some people think success is defined by how well you are doing, but a better example of success is how a person handles failure. Ashley told her supervisors how challenging the test was, and let them know she was not willing to give up.
Upon seeing her determination to succeed the Malmstrom Custodial crew rallied around her and asked if there was anything they could do to help her. On her breaks and during lunch she worked with her co-workers studying and preparing for the exam over the next few days. With the extra help from her co-workers, Ashley passed on her second try.
Within the next couple of days, Ashley was offered the promotion to the supervisor position and took it. Determination led to success, but it was her team’s belief in her that helped her achieve the promotion. The culture formed at Skils’kin encourages people to keep on trying. Through the support of her community at work and her own tenacity, Ashley showed that goals are attainable.

Extending Experience

When Fairchild Air Force Base Grounds Project Manager Jon Booze was able to offer a Grounds Laborer position to Zach Cooper he saw the impact immediately. There was a full range of emotions, but mostly Jon saw a boost in confidence. For the first time in a long time, Zach really believed in himself, and this was going to be his first job.
After the job offer was extended, Zach was called into the Skils’kin headquarters for a new hire paperwork meeting. When Skils’kin extends a job offer, the new hire paperwork meeting is considered their first day on the job, and if an employee falls short then maybe there are other barriers to their ability to work. In this case, Zach missed three meetings for new hire paperwork. The HR Coordinator, BreAnna Mauth, working with him knew she was going to need to rescind his job offer based on this rough start. No one wants to be on either side of this conversation, but it was necessary.
Bre scheduled the first new hire paperwork appointment, and Zach never arrived. When rescheduling the next two meetings Bre took it upon herself to be more communicative and supportive than before, to ensure he understood the expectations of working at Skils’kin. Still, he was unable to complete the new hire paperwork meeting and she knew what action needed to come next. While the conversation was hard, Bre had a feeling that this wasn’t the end of the road for this employee. A few weeks later Skils’kin was contacted by Zach, and he wanted to start fresh. He understood his mistakes and was willing to take ownership of them. Like before, Bre was willing to move forward, as long as he was ready to meet the set expectations for work. A few days later Zach arrived at his new hire paperwork meeting fifteen minutes early and prepared. He set himself up to succeed and Skils’kin was ready to support him if he was ready to work.
Through the roller coaster of this hiring process, Bre understood she was investing in a person, because she really believed in him and wanted to see him succeed in the long-term. Starting a first job has a lasting impact on one’s working life, and will inform expectations for years to come. Skils’kin is ready to meet people where they are at presently and set them up for success. For everyone, this looks different, but to an extent, expectations are set for a reason. Giving someone a pass on the first day is not the right way to set expectations for work at Skils’kin or any other job.
Job ready-ness is key for new hires, and for many of our employees, we want to see them move on to new jobs after they work for us. In order to make sure we’re curating high-quality employees at Skils’kin we must uphold common business standards and expectations while offering grace and accommodations to coach employees to become better workers. A common theme of a job-ready work environment is setting the right expectations and giving them the framework to succeed.
This experience allowed Bre to realize she has never worked at a company like Skils’kin before, “I don’t know of another company that is so willing to let someone learn a lesson while still believing in them.” A job is making a positive impact on this employee’s life by creating a solid foundation of work ethics and experience.

“This job has shown me that I am good at a lot of things I didn’t know I was good at. It has made me a stronger person and I like that I’m doing something for a good cause.”–Zach Cooper

Zach is still working on base as a Grounds Laborer. His Project Manager has seen the impact of his first job and continues to build up expectations around work with him, and the rest of the crews. The crews and supervisors on-base reinforce expectations with each other and create a coachable work environment for everyone. In doing so, everyone gains valuable experience and builds confidence around work.

Why We Work? Skils’kin at Malmstrom AFB, Montana

An exciting addition to the Why We Work Campaign. The Malmstrom Air Force Base Dining Facility worked together to answer the question, Why do you work.

Malmstrom-why we work2

The answers provided by the Malmstrom Dining Facility are written below.
“Love my job.” – Sarah
“I love my job and making money. I get to make new friends and have fun.” – Devin
“I love helping people, making new friends, and making money at a job I love.” – Zach
“I like money.” – Gary
“I need to get out of the house, for my mental and social health.” – Nick
“Helping my mom and my whole family out.” – Michael
“Get out of the house; make new friends.” – Jeremie
“I like working for Skils’kin.” – Kori
“It gives me joy to work with great people.” – James
“To take care of my kids and I enjoy the people I work with.” – Kristina
“To work with excellent co-workers and to be busy.” – Miss K
“Because I like to work!” – Vicky
“To get out of the house and now take care of my car needs + my needs.” – Jacob
“This is joy. I work because I can and I love working and I enjoy my job at Skils’kin and at the National Guard.” – Joy
“Enjoy working with people, and wanted to do all in my power so they get the best service while visiting our facility.” – Liliana


Good For The Environment, Good For Business

Skils’kin thrives on collaboration. In almost every aspect of the company, Skils’kin works with others to ensure they are provided the best services and products. Seeking collaboration ensures new ideas are heard and different perspectives are seen, and often enough the solutions found benefit everyone involved. Recently the Commercial Services department experienced this success through partnering with great people. Kure Products is Commercial Services newest project.
Kure is a company that sells elegant and sustainable shower dispensers. Mainly, Kure products are found in hotels and spas across the world. Their dispensers are top of the line for guests’ experience and housekeeping staff alike, and they are simply beautiful. Beyond the good looks and convenience of a Kure dispenser, they serve to impact a deeper global mission, helping the environment. Every day over 500,000 plastic amenity bottles are put into North American landfills. Kure works to lower this number with every dispenser sold. A single Kure dispenser in a hotel setting can help save over 600 plastic bottles in a year. For a 200-room hotel, that’s 2,000 pounds of plastic.
Values speak volumes to us at Skils’kin, and social commitment goes both ways in partnerships. Kure was able to find Skils’kin online and was instantly drawn to the idea of working with a non-profit, supporting jobs for adults with disabilities. After speaking on the phone with Steve McBride, VP of Commercial Services, Jan McDougal, Founder of Kure Products, flew to Spokane the next week for a better feel for the operation. After meeting Jan, Steve quickly identified her as a visionary. With a mission to reduce single-use bottles, Kure is ahead of their time in a world of cheap-looking plastic. Skils’kin’s production facilities were capable of helping Kure in their mission and would reduce shipping costs along the way. But before the deal was done, Skils’kin’s Quality Assurance team was able to ease any concern with a variety of tools available. Because Skils’kin is a federal contractor our QA processing is of the highest degree and can be adapted to a commercial project such as Kure’s.
With orders coming into Commercial Services the team began to outfit and customize their operations to seek out efficiency at every point. The Skils’kin community came together to find solutions and create accommodations for the commercial services crew. From Pat Paul, an in-house engineer, consulting on a machine to set the windows on the dispensers’ bodies perfectly every time, to Amanda Vazquez, Employment Supervisor, developing a cutting tool for adhesive strips with greater efficiency, the Kure project was coming together well. Utilizing every aspect of Skils’kin’s team each order has gone out on time, with attention to detail that is above and beyond.
With Kure ahead of the curve in the dispenser industry Commercial Services continues to dial in their assembly process to meet their ordering needs. Skils’kin highly anticipates Kure to continue to grow. Sustaining the environment is changing every industry and Skils’kin is ready to scale right alongside Kure, meeting all of their production needs.

The Big Picture

“[We are] a large nonprofit, but a small player in the medical field that can quickly customize kits for any department.”—Steve McBride, VP of Commercial Services

Commercial Services’ production of phlebotomy kits has become a solid line of business for the team. Through incorporating many elements of Skils’kin’s core values, kitting projects have become a staple of the Commercial Services operation. The marketing niche of assembling kits started very locally. Commercial Services is now working to tap into the expanding market through targeted relationships with growth in mind. Phlebotomy kits and fire departments are the main players in a marketing plan. Pooling together the power of relationships, diversity, and innovation into an inclusive marketing/commercial services effort.
The potential to expand the kitting operation was clear, and Commercial Services worked with Marketing to bring it to life. Using a combination of sample phlebotomy kits and targeted promotional cards Skils’kin aims to reach unique target markets and expand awareness of an effective inclusive workforce. This campaign is not only promoting a quality, customizable product, but also proving inclusive environments work well to produce qualitative results.
The Commercial Services team had streamlined the customized production of phlebotomy kits for the Spokane Fire Department. Not only was the team efficient and diverse, but they were also producing a marketable resource with low productions costs. The innovation and integrity of the kits was all based upon the ideas of the Commercial Services team. Fire departments and emergency response units carry phlebotomy kits as part of their standard operating procedure. Skils’kin has been creating phlebotomy kits for years, but through recognizing the success with the local fire department, the path to expansion was clear. After all, the process and production of these kits were met with consistent, positive feedback on the quality and cost of our kits from Spokane’s Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer—“I have the highest level of trust with Skils’kin and certainty that the final product is exactly what we need and how we need it.”
This success demonstrates Commercial Services’ ability to help other fire departments by offering a quality product with competitive pricing. Now, with all the materials and a platform of quality and affordability provided by an inclusive kit assembly team, the big picture is focused on expansion. Commercial Services will be distributing promotional sample kits to fire departments in Eastern Washington, North Idaho, western Montana and North East Oregon and offering our dependable services. If this goes well, Steve McBride, VP of Commercial says, “We can scale our kitting operations here in Spokane to meet any growth opportunities that present themselves.”
Skils’kin implements its core beliefs into all the company services. Whether it’s Commercial Services or AbilityOne contracts, anyone can see how devoted Skils’kin is to its mission, vision, and values just by observing each department in action. If you or your business could benefit from streamlined, customizable kits contact Steve McBride to add convenience and precision to your everyday operations.

The Joy of Running Together

The Lilac Bloomsday Run was born into Spokane history in 1977 as over a thousand runners gathered downtown. Over 40 years later Bloomsday has evolved into an iconic community event in Spokane. It consistently draws in tens of thousands of competitors from across the country, affecting the Spokane communities and businesses in seismic ways. It brings passion and drive to life through competition and the joy of racing. Bloomsday kicks off Spring on the first Sunday of May every year. Thousands pour through the streets, collect their tee-shirts and celebrate, and the city is returned to its normal pace the next day. All of the runners are resting, besides 40 bodies frozen in the spirit of Bloomsday.
The Joy of Running Together lines a corner of Riverfront Park with metal bodies posed mid-stride. The sculpture was created in 1984 by David Govedare in direct response to the burgeoning community surrounding Bloomsday. Each body is a metal silhouette, unique to the person they were based on. David’s goal was to represent the different ethnicities, genders, and abilities through each of his models.
Jerry Martin is an employee of Skils’kin Commercial Services department. In 1979 he experienced an injury that requires him to use a wheelchair since. By 1980 Jerry was a part of a wheelchair basketball league. He and his teammates were always seeking out more activities to participate in, and soon became the first group of wheelchair racers to participate in Bloomsday. Jerry recalls wrecking during the race two different times on downhill sections, “The chairs just weren’t built for it yet”. He finished the course in 1980 and continued to race for the next 25 years. As he constantly worked to improve his time he went on to win the wheelchair and master classes two different years.
In 1984 David Govedare reached out to Jerry with his vision for capturing the essence of Bloomsday, and he wanted to use Jerry’s body. Once his silhouette was traced from multiple angles David assembled a metal model with 39 others and established the art piece on Riverfront Park. Looking back now Jerry feels a sense of pride being a part of Bloomsday history. He doesn’t visit often, but when he does he is reminded of every Bloomsday he’s participated in and the passions surround this event and community.

Diversity and Service

James Pope has been a Skils’kin employee since 2012 and is currently a Senior Project Manager over our Custodial and Food services contracts at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls Montana. James leads a team of over 60 staff that are responsible for creating an exceptional dining experience and keeping facilities sparkling clean for the servicemen and women of Malmstrom Air Force Base. He is able to achieve this through his outstanding crew of cashiers, supervisors, custodial and food service workers. The crew he leads is primarily made up of people with disabilities. Part of why James is so successful in leading a diverse crew is because of his experiences in the Air Force, defending our country.
James joined the military in 1986 as a Heavy Equipment Operator. He built runways, base camps, roads, parking lots and did a lot of base maintenance. Later he was deployed to Desert Storm, where his main task was digging fox holes, setting up base camps and taking care of a runway for stealth bombers. He served at bases in Guam, Florida, Germany, and Arizona, continuing to take on larger maintenance and recovery operations. During this time James built up his ability to manage large groups of people. After that, James applied and was accepted for a humanitarian tour to the Islands of Palau. During this time he was a part of a team that refurbished schools, built a clinic and police station, and went to outer islands to deliver much-needed school supplies and toys to many wonderful people. James continued to evolve in his military career and moved up in rank, leading an entire squadron on a base in England. During this time James learned how to deal with large contracts and budgets, as well as the politics of a foreign country. While he earned many personal accolades and awards, James said his biggest accomplishment in his military career was “having 12 Airmen get promoted ahead of schedule, earn ‘Below the Zone’ promotions, and being a small part of having five of my Airmen reach the two highest ranks in the enlisted structure. Three became Senior Master Sergeants and two Chief Master Sergeant.” James retired from the military in 2011 while serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Now, still working on the same Air Force Base James says, “The military opened the door for me to engage with a whole spectrum of people and one of the things that I learned while serving is that people, no matter where they were born, no matter their status, background, ethnicity, or abilities, have more things in common than differences.” “Most want the same things in life. They want respect, to be heard, a sense of purpose, to be treated fairly, feel safe, and to take care of those close to them and in turn to be taken care of.” James works to support his team to achieve these goals on a daily basis. These are the attitudes Skils’kin values so deeply in relation to our mission. Through the many exceptional veteran employees at Skils’kin, it’s become clear that James is not alone in choosing to carry his military values forward into his civilian career. In James’s words, “In the military, we were held very accountable for our actions and we held our airmen accountable for theirs. We also had to collaborate. We had to work within our own branch as well as other branches of service, other foreign militaries, and civilian populace. All of these values hold true at Skils’kin as well. I hold myself accountable and all of my employees as well. I have to work with a diverse group of people and we have to collaborate not only with those in our own company but with the military, the community, and other contractors to be successful and carry out our mission.”
In James’s own words, “My proudest accomplishments at Skils’kin are very similar to those I experienced in the military. I have been given the opportunity to help open the door for over a hundred awesome people to step through and reach their goals. I’ve watched them all as they worked hard, excelled and amazed me. Our mission here at Skils’kin is to enrich the quality of life for adults with disabilities but the truth is those adults have enriched the quality of my life.”
Richness in character and value is paramount in Skils’kin’s standards for employees. Through our close connections to the military community, on bases around the country, Skils’kin takes pride in sharing and aligning our company values with the values veteran employees bring to the workplace after service in the military.
If you are interested in working in one of Skils’kin’s many diverse and supportive worksites, visit our career postings or call at (509) 326-6760 and launch your career with one of the many, frequently updated job postings.