The Older Worker Advantage: Making the Most of an Aging Workforce

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“Wow–this is unique.” That’s what Larry Christian thought when he joined Vita Needle Company of Needham, Massachusetts, back in 2002 and noticed all the senior citizens working in production. He had moved here from Illinois and had a human resources background from his previous job. “You come here and see what’s happening–it was almost stunning,” he marveled.

Vita Needle Company is a fourth-generation family business, founded in 1932 during the depression years. The company manufactures reusable needles for veterinary applications and for all kinds of industrial purposes, along with tubing, adapters, and fabricated parts. Over the years, it has built a reputation for quality, good price, performance, and reliable service.

“The company hasn’t always hired retired people,” Larry explained. “In the 1930s and 1940s they recruited regular workers. But in the last ten to fifteen years they mostly hired senior citizens.”

Vita Needle Company is located in the middle of town in an old dance hall and former theater built in the 1920s. One can still appreciate the old stage with wonderful carved woodwork as well as the box office around the corner in one of the hallways. The production is set up on the old dance floor, revealing the original oak boards. Production stations are organized in rows with different pieces of equipment for cutting and grinding the tubing, for staking the needles into hubs, and for burnishing and polishing.

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