Vita Needle Finds Vital Employees Among the Elderly
Some need the wages to supplement pensions or their Social Security checks. Others are saving for vacations or "those little extras." Still others just want to stay active in their "retirement."
To their employer, though, the mostly older workers at the Needham, Massachusetts, company represent a loyal, dedicated, and flexible workforce that meets the modern-day needs of a small manufacturing concern in a competitive market.
Of the 35 employees at Vita Needle, most on the factory floor are over 65. Many who spend their days turning slender rods of hollow steel into syringe needles are well into their 80s.
These days, the average age at Vita Needle hovers around 76, but given the company's reputation for providing "work for life," that number edges up with each passing year, according to company president Frederick Hartman.
"We haven't had anyone hit 100 yet, but we're hoping for that; it would be just fine," said Hartman, one of the handful of company youngsters at age 48. "It's not that we won't hire someone younger. But when younger people come up the stairs and take a look at who we have working here, they generally say it's not for them."
Hartman, however, didn't adopt his gray-haired employee profile after attending a business-management class or in response to an overactive sense of civic responsibility. Rather it happened by accident.