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Cory Thomas celebrates 10 years at TVS

Cory Thomas celebrates 10 years at TVS

With over a decade of experience at TVS, Cory Thomas can be found working in almost any production area. Cory is able to flow between all the different lines and provide additional support wherever it is needed.

“Cory has been a regular fixture here at TVS! Over the years, Cory has performed a variety of jobs at TVS and takes his work seriously,” said TVS CEO Jamie Brandenburg. “I have always appreciated his loyalty and dedication to our mission and company.”

Cory was originally hired on second shift, palletizing and case sealing on lines producing SuperCereal, Instant Non-Fat Dry Milk (INDM), and Bakery Mixes.

Now, Cory prefers to work in Supplements. “My favorite spot is on the supplement line, I enjoy the flow of the work and the atmosphere,” said Cory. “I enjoy having the chance to talk to my coworkers.”

In Supplements, Cory can be found blowing out canisters, palletizing, or any other job they need him to do. “Cory is a hard worker with good work ethic,” said Supplement Production Lead Richie Atwell.  “He does his work with a smile.”

Cory works by the motto, “drive to go home or don’t steer.” Or in other words, care about what you do.

“I enjoy watching Cory grow and appreciate his willingness to work in new departments,” said Dietary Supplements Operation Manager Brian Wilson. “I am very proud of his recent progress in his personal life.” 

Cory is native to Transylvania County, and has been involved with TVS for 12 years. Before graduating from Brevard High in 2011, Cory completed his high school requirements by finding employment through Vocational Rehabilitation at TVS.

Over the past 10 years Cory said, “I am able to do more jobs and spread my wings more. I have become more well-rounded and have started to try more.”

When Cory is not at work he can be found practicing Taekwondo, working towards his black belt. Cory is also trained in Kick Boxing and Muay Thai. He has already competed in two different tournaments and aims to keep getting better and better.

Cory also enjoys hanging out with friends, swimming, hiking, social events, and being online. If you are ever looking for Cory on a social media network, it would help you to know that Steven King is his favorite author, as well as, the name of the hotel owner in The Shining.

He can be found in tropical locations on vacation. While his favorite location was Jamaica, he also enjoyed visiting the Bahama’s, Cayman Islands, and Myrtle Beach.

Looking back over the years, Cory remembers all the company picnics, riding inflatable animals in the field out back, evenings together celebrating Christmas, and has lots of memories with good people – some of which are no longer here.

Cory looks forward to continue growing at TVS and moving into whatever position his credentials will take him.

When asked to share some stories about Cory, Brian smiled and said, “I have some great stories involving Cory. They just cannot be repeated here.” 

Celebrating AJ Spears for 10 years at TVS

Celebrating AJ Spears for 10 years at TVS

“We need more AJs in the world!” says Warehouse Lead Associate Tracie Fisher. “AJ is absolutely one of the hardest workers I have ever encountered and I am always impressed by the care and dedication to quality that she puts into every pallet.”

Over the past 10 years, AJ Spears has worked at TVS in almost every area including blending, set-ups, driving fork trucks, and as a floor lead for INTERACT participants.

Now AJ can be found at the warehouse location palletizing and making sure Prime Vendor and Troop Support orders are shipped out correctly. “I love the independence of being at the new warehouse,” AJ said. “But I do miss the INTERACT participants, they are what have kept me here. They bring a lot out of you without ever even trying.”

Her peers describe her as compassionate, being detail oriented, having a strong work ethic, perfectionist, and an open book.

When talking about her work, she always says, “if I wouldn’t send it to my mama looking like that, why would I send it to our soldiers?” If there is a pallet or case out of place, AJ will find it and fix it, she has no tolerance for cutting corners.

“Everything has to look right, or she will break the pallet down and redo the entire thing,” explains Warehouse Manager Shannon Merrill. “She also takes it upon herself to do more than her normal duties. She takes care of anything that might need to be done.”

Shannon has known AJ his entire time working at TVS, but has only worked directly with her over the past couple years since her promotion to Warehouse Production Associate.

“She is determined to do her job to the best of her ability, and her ability exceeds almost everyone I know,” said Customer Relations Specialist Robin Ervin. “She’s a beast!  In the past year, Prime Vendor has shipped out 63,522 cases of product and AJ has had her hands on 99% of those cases.”

The TVS warehouse has a bulletin board that changes themes monthly. AJ has adorned the hat of Country Music Singer Gretchen Wilson, Animal from The Muppets, and Sandy the Squirrel from SpongeBob.  Currently, she has been likened to Looney Tune’s Yosemite Sam. “For those who know AJ well, Yosemite Sam is likely to be the most accurate of them all,” laughs Robin.

“She is hilarious and you never have to wonder how she feels about things,” Robin explains. “AJ is rightfully proud of how far she has come since leaving her past struggles with addiction behind.”

AJ moved to Brevard in the 1990s with her family from Lodi, California. She worked other jobs including a PBX answering service, woodworking, and dog groomer. “My past history was rocky, but TVS took a chance on it,” said AJ.

“I give blood, sweat, and tears for this place to help feed the world,” she said. Reflecting over the past decade, AJ says, “it has been awesome working here. I love my job, what we do, and our mission. TVS has helped me in life and if I wasn’t here don’t know if I would have survived sobriety.” 

Last year, AJ and her wife Alicia purchased their first home. When they are not working at TVS, they can be found helping friends, neighbors, and those in need mow to their lawns. “It makes you feel good to be helpful,” says AJ.

With all the work, AJ does enjoy some play while visiting the Cherokee casino. While AJ enjoys her luck at the slots, she does have a series of unfortunate events. “TVS is not kind to AJ and Alicia’s car,” laughs Robin.

In 2019, Mother Nature decided to strike the TVS parking lot with a bolt of lightning. The strike blew the pavement out from under the car and completely fried the electronics and killing their car. Luckily, it occurred during working hours and no one was outside.

But now her new car is a “car-magnet,” attracting other cars to bump into it while working at the warehouse location.

Looking ahead in her career at TVS, AJ is always looking for new ways to grow and with her motto of, “work hard and keep your chin up,” the possibilities are endless.

 

Cermount’s Supplements and Food Packaging Brand Expansion Promotes Pride and Purpose

Cermount’s Supplements and Food Packaging Brand Expansion Promotes Pride and Purpose

Cermount, recognized for its SQF level dietary supplements and dry foods packaging services, offers quality-centered contract manufacturing while employing an all-inclusive and mission-driven workforce. Along with its parent company, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS), and ongoing contracts with the US Government for food banks and the US Military, Cermount has continued to thrive and expand its private label food manufacturing and supplements business during these last two years.   

Cermount is invested in the future with a current facility upgrade and line expansion. New vertical and horizontal form-fill-and seal equipment, additional filling lines, and a high-speed Bosch encapsulation machine are just a few of the recent investments.  Additional square footage was added to accommodate new growth and dedicated line space for dietary supplements blending, encapsulation, bottling, and powder filling opportunities.  

 

“Cermount plans to continue to expand our facility and capabilities to accommodate the growing needs of our customers and the market,” said VP of Business Development and Marketing Beth Rich. “We also have exciting new capabilities planned for the upcoming year—such as single serve cups, different pack sizes and styles, and additional material offerings. We have been fortunate that our recent growth has allowed for us to make these types of investments back into our organization.”

Cermount is flexible with a variety of packaging options, production run sizes, and an overall ease of market entry. The R&D Team can assist new customers with custom food development or simply enhance a current formula.  Overall, Cermount is responsive, easy to work with, and there to help meet the start-to-finish manufacturing needs of most any project requirements.   

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“Certified Quality. Trusted Service,” the Cermount motto, is built on the mission of its parent company, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS), providing competitive employment to adults with disabilities for over 50 years.  TVS has a state-of-the-art dry food manufacturing facility fulfilling contracts for the federal government.  Cermount’s new capabilities and expansion combined with TVS’s mission and expertise make for a winning combination and why both are trusted and respected by industry partners.  By “manufacturing with a mission” these organizations work to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals with disabilities and barriers to employment.  For more information visit www.cermount.com

 

TVS Self-Advocates join SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference

TVS Self-Advocates join SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference

Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) is very proud to share that Chase Potts and Kari Hammitt were among nearly 50 individuals selected from across the nation to attend the annual SourceAmerica® Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., June 13-16, 2022. Chase and Kari were selected because they are excellent employees and are exceptional at telling their stories!

During the event, they spent four days sharing their employment story and met with members of Congress to advocate for better job opportunities for people with disabilities. Chase and Kari were able to meet with staffers from Congressional offices representing North Carolina, including Congressman Tom Tillis, Congressman Richard Burr and Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

SourceAmerica is a central non-profit agency that works under the AbilityOne Federal Program, a leading job connector for people with disabilities. TVS is a part of the 500-member SourceAmerica non-profit network across the US, that employs 45,000 disabled people.

The SourceAmerica Grassroots Advocacy Conference brought together advocates and nonprofit leaders from across the United States to meet with members of Congress to help shape employment policies. In addition, attendees discussed employment barriers in their communities and how the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities, has provided employment opportunities for people with disabilities in their community.

A decade later and Dan Fisher is stilling hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit

A decade later and Dan Fisher is stilling hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit

It isn’t every day that you get to meet a man who has an affinity for cats and a secret hatred for Mr. Rogers – but at TVS, we have had the pleasure of working beside him for the past 10 years and we are looking forward to many more!

TVS Quality Director, Dan Fisher works to, “ensure that TVS puts out a quality safe product for our customer and consumer. Whoop, there it is.”

It’s hard to not find Dan with a smile on his face. He enjoys providing employment for individuals with disabilities and barriers to employment as well as being able to feed the world with awesome products. “It’s pretty cool,” he says. “I thank the Lord, and thank my blessings for being a part of TVS.”

Dan was hired as the Quality Director in 2012 after, “my wife and I decided it was time for me to come out of retirement,” Dan said with a laugh. His experience in quality grew at Tropicana in Florida, where he worked for 35 years. “I fell in love, had kids, and went to work at Tropicana,” he explained. “I started as a Lab Tech before moving up to the Quality Packaging Manager.”

TVS Quality Director John Safi has heard all the juicy stories about Tropicana, “they beat him to a pulp,” John says with a chuckle.

John has worked with Dan for the past 5 years. “He is a good-hearted guy and a true follower of Christ,” he says. “We have a lot of audits together, and they are more fun with each other. During one, an auditor grabbed Dan’s stress-reliver ball, shaped like a cow, and threw it at me because I kept asking questions. Dan then handed her a Tropicana stress-ball and said, ‘here – you can throw this one too,’ and she did.”

Just like the stress balls being thrown at John, the puns and compliments about Dan – they just keep coming.

Heart of gold, always positive, and “the best supervisor I’ve ever had” are just some of the other kind words coworkers had to say.

Jackie Compton has worked with Dan during his decade at TVS. “One of my favorite stories with Dan is when he was on his hands and knees chasing a fly with an electric fly swatter,” laughs Jackie. “He did get the fly after several hits and some electrical recharges.”

Over the years, Dan has traded this electric fly swatter for an electric bicycle. When not working, he can be found hitting the bike bath with his wife and friends, as well as, camping… or glamping.

Dan shares his smile with everyone around him. His light-hearted humor and extensive list of puns is the highlight of conversation. “Take the time to get to know the people. Life is short, and relationships are important,” he says.

 

Looking ahead, there may be opportunity to see Dan letting his hair down at the next company picnic and maybe beating Jackie again at Cornhole.

I have a million of them,” said Dan thinking back on his memories. “But the overriding theme is all the smiles on employee faces as they come to work.” Over his decade, Dan has seen TVS grow by over a hundred employees.

Brevard used to have less people, less beer, and less bikes. But it’s all behind us now.

As for Dan’s explanation for his aversion to Mr. Rogers, he says, “It’s not a beautiful day in the neighbor, there might be cat fever going around.”