OSHKOSH – Even after 37 years on the job, Lynn Van Camp is still learning new things.
She started at Lakeside Packaging Plus in 1985 and worked her way up from a casual role to a supervisor position, then a machine operator and — in just the last six months — into a new job-coaching role.
"It's something fulfilling," Van Camp said. "I never thought I'd be here all these years, but it's different and new every day here."
Van Camp has been at Lakeside Packaging Plus for more than half of the nonprofit organization's 60 years, which it marked in August with celebrations at its Oshkosh and Neenah facilities.
Rob Servais, Lakeside's CEO, said the company serves around 225 people in the Winnebago County area and partners with more than 65 businesses.
"We have a big footprint," he said. "We have a rich history in the community. Yet, we're it's best-kept secret."
Lakeside Packaging Plus was established in 1962 in Neenah as Work Adjustment Services by parents of children with diverse abilities. It later expanded into Oshkosh.
The nonprofit provides projects, employments and activities to its associates through various programs. Those include: community employment, where a job coach and client go to different community sites; a day program that works on community integration and programming inside Lakeside facilities; production, which is warehouse-type work; a "Building for Life" summer program; and group supportive employment.
Servais started with Lakeside in November 2021 and became CEO in February, after then-CEO Margaret Winn retired after 36 years working at the company.
He said he was drawn to the organization because of its family-friendly focus and a positive work environment that he said started long ago and hopes to continue.
"It’s the small things that are important to the culture and the breadth of the organization," he said. "That's what I’m trying to continue because the previous CEOs were incredible at that."
That's one of the reasons Van Camp has stayed for so long. With children, she said she needed a flexible work schedule.
"Raising kids is hard, and I needed something where I could come and go as I pleased," she said. "They worked with me and were very family-oriented."
Of course, it helps to work with a good team, and Van Camp said she's found that in many of her coworkers, a lot of whom have also been there 20 to 30 years.
Diane Volkman, a supervisor, is marking 39 years at Lakeside this year. She remembers walking from her high school to work 3:30 to 9 p.m. shifts in 1978. Now, she's worked her way to a production supervisor.
While she likes the work, it's the relationships with her clients, whom they call associates, that she finds most rewarding.
"The associates are wonderful," she said. "You get so close to them and see them grow, learn new things and be out in the community, which is awesome."
Production Coordinator Mark Salzer has only been with the company for three years, but he said he's learned so much from working with people who have so much experience.
"Working with a group of people like that, and watching the commitment they've had over the years, is really cool," he said.
As CEO, Servais is also leaning on their experience to help guide him forward. He's grateful to work for a company that has a solid foundation and connection to the community.
"Sixty years means a ton to me as a new CEO," Servais said. "I get to carry the torch into the next 10 to 20 years and move our company in a trajectory that honors our roots and yet continues to evolve."
This article originally appeared on Oshkosh Northwestern: Oshkosh's Lakeside Packaging Plus serving differently abled 60 years