Boxes, bags and jobs

Don Krysakowski

The nonprofit Work Training Center operates more than a dozen local businesses. Some of them we instantly recognize, such as Fair Street Recycling and the Made in Paradise gift shop. Others are less visible, such as its industrial woodshop, Feather River Industries in Oroville, and its industrial sewing shop, Deer Creek Sewing, in Chico. Like all of the WTC’s businesses, Feather River and Deer Creek have trained and hired adults with disabilities (aka its “clients”), as part of its mission to provide services to people with disabilities. Both businesses sell their wares through another WTC venture, Bear Mountain Production Services (at, and their customers include everyone from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York. Executive Director Don Krysakowski has been with WTC for nearly a year now, and he explained what the two shops are all about.

What products are you making?

On the sewing side, we make backpacks, totes, aprons. We can pretty much do anything. We do not make clothing yet. … If Chico goes to their no-plastic-bag policy, we’ve got all kinds of totes and shopping bags that people could buy.

Do you sell to individuals, or is it all wholesale?

Yes, we do some individual sales.

Great! Because I saw you have an owl box on your website.

If you need an owl box, we’ll sell you an owl box, absolutely. With the new website [], you can purchase the owl box online, and it’ll be delivered to you, or you can pick it up locally.

What else is made at the woodshop?

We’ve done wood presentation boxes. We have owl boxes, as you talked about, we’re looking at duck boxes, we do bird boxes, and we’re doing bat boxes. We make [two] nice-sized planter [boxes], that can be connected by a bench between the two. I’m going to have two in my yard in the not-too-distant future.

How many people does it take to make a fanny-pack?

It’s generally one sewer. [Our] client base—adults with disabilities—[does] a lot of the pre-production work, getting stuff prepped for the final sewing. We have a staff right now of 10 actual people sewing. We have a client base of about 20 clients who work in the pre-production. Also, we have two clients who are working as sewers.

Why should we buy our planter boxes from you?

We’re a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), we’re in Butte County, and if people buy from us, that’s basically money that’s circulating within Butte County. It goes directly to our clients, and it goes directly to our programs. Two-thirds of our income comes from the state of California. The other portion of our income needs to come from our products and services that we sell.