DUXBURY, Mass. -- VERC Enterprises--a 24-location, 200-employee independent operator of convenience stores, gas stations and car washes--has been named a "Leader in Diversity" by the BostonBusiness Journal. VERC will join other companies at a recognition dinner on October 21. Earlier this year, the company was also recognized by the newspaper as a finalist in its "Best Places to Work" competition.
From a diversity vantage point, VERC has many foreign or "new American" employees, it said; 12 store managers are from countries other than the United States. Approximately 24 of its full and part-time associates also hail from diverse ethnic backgrounds-- including workers from Africa, Brazil, Cambodia, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal and Puerto Rico.
But perhaps the signature piece of its diversity is achieving the milestone of having 20% of its workforce comprised of workers with physical or mental disabilities or challenges.
Leo Vercollone, CEO, said that his company has long believed in the value of reaching out to individuals with physical or mental disabilities or challenges, and that the stores that his company owns and manage have many employment opportunities for those workers.
"We have been going in this direction for a while. For a few years, we were at 10% and thought we could do better, so we set a company goal of 15%, which we achieved in 2010, and then 20% in 2011," Vercollone said.
He added, "We are very honored to be recognized as a leader in diversity and believe that it is a goal that all companies should aspire to."
Vercollone credits the bestseller Good to Great, by Jim Collins, as inspiration for him to develop the program. "The book essentially says that in order for a business to survive, being good isn't enough--you have to be the best at something," He said. "What we discovered is that we can be great at bringing in people with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities. It has been a win-win for our stores and our communities."
He added, "The employees that we bring in under this program are excellent. They are productive, do great work and add to the culture."
In addition to local applicants who may apply for work independently, VERC has developed a strong network of resources that includes Minuteman ARC, Plymouth ARC, Best Buddies, BAMSI, Eastern Middlesex ARC, Post Program of Duxbury, Road to Responsibility and others.
Vercollone's goal for VERC Enterprises is only part of the mission. "I invite other companies to come in and see how this program works, and then to get on board and do it themselves."
He said, "Think of what could happen if every company set a minimum goal of 15% or 20% disabled/challenged for their workforce, and if they set similar standards for diversity in hiring."
The Minuteman ARC has recognized the company as Community Employer of the Year. Additionally, it has been named a Veteran-Friendly Employer by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Duxbury, Mass.-based VERC Enterprises is one of the region's leading independent chain of c-stores and gas stations, with locations throughout eastern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The company began 31 years ago with a single car wash in Marshfield, in a business founded by Eugene Vercollone. Today, two of Vercollone's sons operate the company, with Leo Vercollone as president and Paul Vercollone as vice president.