One Team, One Dream: Tiffany RiemannBy Selynn Barbour — Contributing Writer | Photos Provided By Tiffany Riemann

The welcoming smile of Tiffany Riemann is a warm, genuine and caring. The positive feelings linger long after touring Lake Area Industries (LAI) in Camdenton, and learning about the people performing their mission.

“ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM!” is the motto at LAI where Tiffany is the executive director. Since 1983, LAI has been the proud employer of people of all ages and with varying disabilities. It is one of 90 such workshops in the state of Missouri. Currently, approximately 80 individuals work a variety of jobs to accomplish the collective goal of balancing their abilities with the needs of private businesses and communities in a compassionate environment.

“Sixty-five of those 80 employees live with some sort of a disability that may prevent them from working in other businesses; but because of their abilities, they have a job at LAI,” Tiffany attests.

Camdenton Chamber of Commerce executive director Trish Creach adds, “It’s a tremendous asset for our community. I encourage everyone to tour the facility and learn of its magnitude of services.”

LAI is located on Business Highway 5 North. Inside the building it’s easy to feel the camaraderie among employees and staff. One task involves providing hotels with in-room coffee service complete with cups and condiments. Gina, with a happy smile and bubbly attitude, is a long-time LAI employee. “I like working here. I really enjoy it,” she says. Gina demonstrates how she efficiently assembles products, then boxes, tapes them up and loads them onto a skid.

One Team, One Dream: Tiffany Riemann

Photo By Jim Rogers

Seven or eight skids of soups are shrink-wrapped and sent out each day. The workers who operate the drop sealer cheerfully process 5,000 packets a day of iced tea, Kool-Aid or sugar. These packets are prepared by additional LAI workers. They count out the needed number of food items as specified by the requesting businesses. Some employees utilize a visual board with a helpful grid, while others count with unaided ease.

“That is a challenge for staff, deciding how to make modifications for different skill levels,” points out Bruce Mitchell, vice president of the board of LAI. “Tiffany is a great motivator. She does a great job for the businesses as she does for us, the board of directors,” he compliments.

Contract packaging and light assembly jobs formerly were 90 percent or more of LAI’s contracts, but those jobs have mostly moved to China or Mexico. Missouri Senate Bill 40, via property taxes and state taxes, provide some monetary support. But LAI works to secure additional contracts so more employees can gain gratification and skills in life.

In expanding its services, LAI now empowers businesses with secure document destruction, and also produces wood shipping components. LAI employees read blueprints and fabricate more than 40 types of custom crates for several area manufacturers who require domestic and overseas shipping.

Quickly growing and in their second year is its secure documentation destruction service. “This is under 24/7 security and customers can be assured that their documents will be securely shredded and recycled,” Tiffany promises. Businesses around the Lake area sign up to receive a locking collection bin. LAI’s secure truck and employees drive the routes to pick up the bins to shred the contents. “Many customers have expressed their appreciation of our employees’ interaction with their business and often compliment their professionalism,” Tiffany shares.

One Team, One Dream: Tiffany Riemann

Photo By Jim Rogers

Building on this positive interaction with the public, LAI provides another opportunity for their employees with their Gifted Gardens Greenhouse and Garden Center. In 2014 they celebrated their 4th anniversary and also experienced their best sales. Physically adjacent to LAI is the main location, where they grow and sell more than 1,000 varieties of plants including annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, hanging baskets and mixed containers. “This year we were fortunate to have Dierbergs and the hospital as additional sales locations for our spring and fall plants,” Tiffany says.

Celebrating five years with LAI is Tiffany herself. After moving here from Webster Groves, Missouri, Tiffany transitioned seamlessly from her insurance business. “It has been our goal to employ every person with disabilities who wants to work. Though we have grown over the past few years and increased the number of employees, we still have a fairly extensive waiting list,” she says.

LAI recently grew again when they opened Gifted Goods & Garments Resale Shop in Stone Crest Mall, Osage Beach. This relocation and repurposing of the Thrifty Threads Thrift Shop is giving LAI employees more advanced job-skill training. This experience and gained confidence will hopefully lead them to seek employment at businesses throughout the community.

One Team, One Dream: Tiffany Riemann“We have excellent support in the community,” acknowledges Dave Tyler, president of the board of LAI. The merchandise in the new shop is all generously donated. “We have a very impressive and talented group of employees, supervisors and directors that spends many, many hours devoted to the success of LAI. Tiffany is a great supervisor who has a vested interest and can wear many hats,” he praises.

A white hat, or perhaps more fitting, a white veil, Tiffany may have been spotted wearing one down the aisle at her recent nuptials with Mark Maasen on New Year’s Eve. “This allowed us to ring in the New Year with all of our family including my sons Jacob and Ben and our friends,” she excitedly shares.

Tiffany enjoys sharing her free time working on the SHOOTOUT’s Wishing on a Ride event, sitting on the board of the Sharing and Caring Foundation, watching Mizzou and Cardinal games and boating. She attests that she couldn’t enjoy these activities if it wasn’t for the LAI dedicated staff. “Their talent and dedication is the oil that keeps the wheels of LAI turning. From our board, to office manager, production manager, supervisors, transportation drivers and even our truck drivers — there is more to what they do than just a “job.”

A job is what a person toils at. Yet at LAI it’s much more. It’s a sense of accomplishment. “Employees of LAI earn more than a paycheck. They’re working hard to be productive citizens of our community. They’re not asking for a handout, they want to work and are proud of the job they do! They learn job skills, social skills and lifelong friendships,” Tiffany summarizes.

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