Cedar Valley Services Inc. - Work Rehabilitation Austin twitter logo-bw boxSM facebook logo-bwSM

Our journey through the years


Cedar Valley Services, Inc. was incorporated as Austin Achievement Center on February 25, 1960. Two years prior, a small group of concerned individuals met and discussed the need for vocational rehabilitation services in Austin. In 1959, there were open meetings with representatives of the State of Minnesota, Division Rehabilitation Services present. In September of 1959, the idea was presented to the Austin Coordinating Council where it received approval.

Our services include providing employment opportunities for manufacturing and commercial services.

To know how we can help you, call us now.


The Mrs. Jaycees donated proceeds of their annual breakfast towards the formation of the Austin Achievement Center. On January 20, 1960, an organizational meeting was held. A temporary chairman and Board of Directors were appointed. Proceedings for incorporation were initiated. After incorporation, the first meeting of the Board of Directors was held on March 3, 1960. On March 20, the first annual meeting was held. Further planning meetings were held throughout 1961 and 1962.



Laura Zemlin, the first Executive Director was hired in April of 1963, and the Austin Achievement Corporation was open for business. The first location was the old Radcliff Seed Company building across from the present location. Subcontract work was begun and approximately 35 consumers were served. The first year’s operating budget was $33,700. The initial jobs included silk screening, pallet manufacturing and subcontract assembly. A Federal grant was received to provide salary for a combination work evaluator/placement specialist, secretary, and a portion of the salaries for other staff.



In 1965, a problem of not enough room was becoming apparent. Various alternatives were considered including renting or purchasing a new building. In the meantime, a second building was rented. The additional space allowed for the expansion of contracts into electrical assembly areas and increased the potential for the number of people served.



At the 1967 Annual Meeting, the name was changed to Cedar Valley Rehabilitation Workshop, Inc. because a larger geographic area was being served. Also that year, serious financial difficulties were encountered. However, with the help of the State DRS, the County and several other organizations’ assistance, consumer services were not interrupted. In December of 1967, Tom Flannagan took over as Executive Director and remained in that capacity for the next 12 years.



In 1968 it became possible to hire additional staff, including a full-time counselor, work evaluator, and social worker. It also became necessary to change the contract base away from pallet manufacturing and furniture refinishing towards various subcontract assembly types of jobs.



Additional space again became a problem in 1969, making it necessary to move to the present location. This made it possible to consolidate the two previous locations. The present location also had the advantage of having additional lot space to allow room for expansion. Much of this space was used in 1971 for the building of an 8,600 square foot addition. This additional space allowed CVRW to begin a bus run to Albert Lea to transport consumers from the Freeborn County area.



Cedar Valley Rehabilitation Workshop acquired one half of the St. Augustine’s Church Convent which would be the new residential facility for 22 consumers and expanded to allow adequate office space for all staff. The Cedar Valley Residence opened in March of 1972, to meet needs for evaluation and training of independent living skills.



In 1970, the community of Owatonna contacted CVRW in reference to having a sheltered workshop. As a direct result, in February of 1973, Careers Training Center opened in Owatonna to further meet the training and employment needs of 28 people in Dodge, Steele, and Rice Counties. Careers Training Center provided a comprehensive vocational and rehabilitation service to the persons of southeaster-south central Minnesota. Persons served had physical, mental, social, or emotional disabilities of various severities but all had vocational disabilities in common.



CVRW completed its first Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, (CARF) survey process and was awarded a three year accreditation. At that time, Cedar Valley was one of four accredited Minnesota workshops.



Careers Training Center was awarded its first three-year accreditation.



ROAR (Recreational, Opportunities, Action and Resources, Inc.) was started to provide funds for leisure and recreational activities. In August of 1976, the residence was closed because major capital expenditures would have been necessary to comply with new regulations. Secondly, a private residential facility was being built which would serve the residential needs of our consumers.



David Leiseth, who had been Production Manager for seven years at CVRW, was promoted to Director of Operations and held that position until he resigned in 1980 to become Director of Interstate Rehabilitation Center of Red Wing, Minnesota.



A 5,000 square foot building addition was completed at Owatonna, and the original building was renovated.



Career Industries (CI) was opened for services in Albert Lea. Terry Brink was hired as the Branch Manager and approximately 30 consumers served. The manufacturing of survival kits was begun at Cedar Valley. Cedar Valley completed the second major building addition, which was 12,000 square feet of new space. Maureen Lynch was hired as a Counselor and later became Program Director at Cedar Valley.


Cedar Valley became a member of the Hormel Foundation and received its first of several major capital grants. Career Industries was awarded their first CARF accreditation. In 1980, Cedar Valley was strongly impacted by the economic recession. Working hours were cut for all staff and consumers and budget control was tightened.



In 1980, CVRW, the Austin facility completed a 12,000 square foot expansion program at a cost of $700,000. This expansion eliminated the severely crowded working conditions by providing additional production and warehouse space, doubling the lunchroom area and adding a locker room for all workers. In addition, the front office area was remodeled. Tom Flannagan resigned to become Executive Director of Goodwill Industries in Duluth. Jim Mueller started as the new Executive Director. He was previously the Director of St. Croix Industry in Wisconsin.



CVRW began a comprehensive Placement Program. A full-time Placement Coordinator was hired with the support of a state establishment grant. Rich Pavek was hired as Marketing Representative and later became Division Director for Austin and Albert Lea.



Cedar Valley Rehabilitation Workshop, Inc. reached one million dollars in contract sales. The Program Evaluation System was implemented. During the first year of operation, data was gathered on all five programs with many changes and refinements made within the system.



The Austin Facility alone reached one million dollars in contract sales and Careers Training Center doubled its contract income compared to the previous year. 1983 was the first year Cedar Valley had its own computer system in operation, with all financial reports and payroll generated independently. The number of consumers served daily averaged at about 300.



Cedar Valley began providing its first Day Training and Habilitation program as the result of Steele County DAC merging with CTC. Thirty DAC participants and 8 staff members became part of the Owatonna facility. CTC carried out a building expansion project which included a 10,200 square foot addition, a new rear parking lot and remodeling of the existing building.


In September of 1984, Cedar Valley developed its first Community Based employment program. Janitorial contracts were started at two Austin business sites: J. C. Penney and the Moose Lodge. HAND (Helping Actions to Nurture Development) was organized in Albert Lea. Its purpose, similar to ROAR, is to raise funds to provide social/recreational functions for Career Industries employees.



Cedar Valley felt the impact of the Austin labor unrest by a decrease in subcontract work done for the Hormel Company. A grant was awarded by the State Developmental Disabilities Council to work with three other DAC programs. The goal of the grant was to improve services to more severely disabled consumers by intense community job development.


The Austin facility was awarded a Rule 14 grant from the State Department of Human Services to provide specialized vocational services to people with serious and persistent mental illness. A Federal contract was awarded to CTC by the Department of Defense to manufacture ignition cable sets. During 1985, $106,253 in contract income was generated through this contract which was then extended on into 1986. Microcomputers were added to all three facilities to enhance efficient production reporting, inventory control, more accurate customer data and statistics.



The CARF Accreditation survey process was again completed, resulting in a full three-year accreditation for all programs. On June 3, 1986, the former Helena Chemical Building in Albert Lea was purchased from Fountain Industries. This building was almost twice the size of the building previously rented for CI services. After major remodeling was completed, the new building was occupied and operational by the end of the year.


On October 1, 1986, Dafydd Williams was hired as the new Branch Manager of CTC. Community Based services grew significantly during 1986 and by the 4th quarter of the year there were 52 participants working on 6 crews at 14 different sites.



July 1, 1987, the Oak Grove DAC program was merged with the Austin workshop program. One of the main reasons for the merger was to share expertise in the areas of vocational services and behavioral programming. The workshop facility secured a Rule 38 DAC license through the Department of Human Services. The new program served 47 participants with 17 additional staff members.


In 1987, the Austin facility expanded its community-based efforts by contracting with the Austin Community College for the management and operation of their Food Service. The training program began with five disabled workers being supervised in the areas of food preparation, dishwashing, waiting on customers, bussing, and cashier work. The Austin Community College program soon offered a hot lunch at the workshop facility and is now able to provide a full catering service.



A highlight of 1988 was the move of the Austin wood products operation to a new 10,000 square foot building which was constructed directly behind the workshop facility. This was necessary to allow continued growth and expansion in the wood products industry.


The Owatonna facility saw a significant shift toward supported employment both in terms of hours worked and contract income which had grown to 20 percent of gross sales. The Albert Lea facility also had success in community conversion with two new enclaves established.



An operating budget of $4.6 million was prepared for the year 1989 as compared to a $33,700 budget for 1963, the first year of operation.



At the beginning of 1990, The Cedar Valley Rehabilitation Workshop, Inc. name was changed to Cedar Valley Services, Inc. The Austin facility was referred to as the Austin Division, Owatonna as the Owatonna Division and Albert Lea as the Albert Lea Division.



During the last month of 1990 and the first 2 months of 1991, a building was sought and a needs determination completed with county approval for a Top Flight Program at a site away from the main building. This program would be for severely disabled T & H consumers to enable them to be in a community setting. The program opened on March 1, 1991 with 8 consumers and 8 staff.



With the intention of merging with Alpha Enterprises in Albert Lea, plans and meetings were held to discuss the arrangement. After much discussion the merger took place on November 1, 1993.



A two home residential program was purchased in 1995 by Cedar Valley Services, Owatonna Division. The Vine Home had four women, and the Main Street Home had four men.



In 1996, there was an increasing need for more space at the Albert Lea Myers Road Division. It had been a desire for a horticulture program.



In late 1997, the building was completed which provided more production and office space and a greenhouse. The first of the year (1998), consumers from Alpha (except those who did laundry) were moved into the Myers Road facility. Several staff also made the move. One DTH manager stayed at Alpha with several staff to manage the laundry business and consumers.


Early in 1997, CVS took advantage of an opportunity to supply laundry service to the Austin Medical Center. A laundry facility was installed in the storage space in the Top Flight Building at a cost of approximately $100,000. Annual sales are expected to exceed $120,000. Consumers will benefit through an additional choice of work.


The planned conversion from the System 36 to networked computers finally achieved the first major results of producing payroll and financial reports. The goals are to have a complete and accessible system.

The Ashley Building, next to CVS, Austin, was purchased in the fall to provide warehouse, vehicle storage and production space. The church, next to the Austin Top Flight Program, was purchased in December to guarantee access to the laundry. CVS spent $830,000 on capital items during 1997 to increase efficiencies in transportation, production, program and facilities.


In addition to a 3.5% overall increase in salaries, the salaries of certain staff were adjusted for competitiveness.

Other activities completed were the health coverage renewal, a clean 1996 audit, vehicle grants and a Hormel Foundation Grant.



Cedar Valley completed its 39th year and for the first time worked with a budget in excess of $9 million dollars. Consumer wages increased by 14% to a total of $1,253,000. Services were provided to over 700 people and contract sales approached $5 million dollars, which required the expansion of transportation services to meet the needs of the program.


With the aging consumer population, senior activities were expanded to all locations and the Day Training and Habilitation programs continued to expand community inclusion activities. In Owatonna, the men’s residence was replaced with a new home which is more accessible. Cedar Valley invested over $500,000 through its capital budget to better meet consumer service needs.


The School to Work students from area schools continued to participate in a wide range of opportunities.

Cedar Valley expanded its contract base and choice of work through additions as well as movement from CVS facilities to community sites. With the addition of a mental health employability grant, CVS now provides this service in Albert Lea, as well as Austin and Owatonna. Compared with statewide cost averages, CVS operates its program in a very efficient manner.



Cedar Valley began its 40th year with a 10 million dollar budget, and services to over 700 people.

The highlights of 1999 included a three-year accreditation outcome. The reported strengths indicated were the variety of work opportunities for people receiving services; sound leadership from a stable and experienced management team and talented and caring staff members; person-centered organization with high satisfaction regarding the treatment of persons receiving service; commitment to the removal of attitudinal, communication, transportation and other barriers to all individuals; good working relationships with local business, public schools and service agents.


Reported exemplary conformance included a committed and active Board of Directors; collaborative and positive relationships with business in the community; and removal of transportation barriers for people receiving service. Another high point of the year was $500,000 in capital expenditures. The results were improvements in transportation, facilities, production capacity and programs.



The highlights of the year 2000 included increased choices and higher wages resulting from a shift to smaller community and in-house contracts along with increased focus on new types of work opportunities.

CVS initiated Employer of Record Services in Owatonna as an alternative to existing services.


There was an emphasis on improving the management of outcome of services. Access to services increased through additions and improvements in transportation. There were efficiency gains from the use of technology in administrative and support functions. Due to a $500,000 capital budget, the removal of barriers and additional accommodations were achieved.


A Three Year Plan was developed to plan for the future. Owatonna completed an accessible vestibule and additional accessible lavatories. A greenhouse addition was completed for expanded client choices.

Austin purchases a recycling vehicle to expand opportunities for workers.



Austin was successful in winning new packaging contracts to replace contracts that were transferred overseas.

Owatonna replaced a large janitorial contract with a parts hanging contract.

Austin began Employer of Record Services. Recycling expanded into Mower County. CVS purchased equipment to automate pallet assembly and packaging. The Board established a designated fund for capital building additions. Austin Production Manager, Larry McColloch, received the Partner in Quality Award from the Hormel Foods Co.



The Austin facility parking was expanded through purchase of property to the north.

The Top Flight facility client access to the north was improved to accommodate traffic and improve safety.

The Top Flight Program was granted a rate increase to meet consumer needs.


CVS achieved a three accreditation. Top Flight began the Personal Enrichment Track.

Albert Lea received a rate increase to meet client needs. CVS efforts to improve safety resulted in a 10% reduction in Workers Compensation costs.



An IRS Audit resulted in no fines or penalties. CVS experienced state and county funding reductions.

ST. Marks Nursing Home recognized CVS with a Distinguished Service Award.


A new home was built to replace the women’s residence. CVS entered into an agreement to provide public transportation in Albert Lea. The system will also provide transportation for CVS consumers.



A complete building's valuation study was completed. The property next to the main facility in Owatonna was purchased for future expansion. Lavatories were remodeled in Albert Lea and Austin to better meet client needs. A study was completed on switching from Rule 75 to Per Diem Funding. The board completed training as well as a major rotation of members due to retirements.



The Alpha Program negotiated a favorable lease to the Elks on property owned by CVS. The organization began planning for expansion in Austin. A CVS Leisure Recreation Program was proposed in Owatonna. A decision to phase out Employer of Record services was reached. An analysis of the Transit Program was conducted. Remodeling of the Albert Lea Myers Rd. facility began late in the year.



The Owatonna Recreation/Leisure Program building addition was completed. Albert Lea received a Public Transit Program grant. Improvements were made in transportation safety and reliability. The growth in School to Work continued. Increased access to programs occurred as a result of $500,000 in capital projects.



Work access improved as a result of a customer moving their operations to Albert Lea in order to expand operations with CVS. Senior Services improved through the integrated community co-location in Austin, increased United Way funding, the new building addition in Owatonna, and staff initiatives in Albert Lea. Warehouse and inventory management improved as a result of software programs and staff training.



Negotiations began to purchase the house to the south of CVS in Austin for future space needs. Plans to build a bus garage in Albert Lea began with discussions with the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation. Building renovations to improve the look of CVS Austin were completed. CVS received a bus through a MNDOT Grant. CVS received a three year accreditation in Organizational Employment, Community Employment, Employee Planning and Employee Development Services. Owatonna’s long running parts hanging contract with Truth, Inc. ended.



The house to the south of CVS-Austin was purchased for future expansion. Austin and Albert Lea were awarded four bus grants. All locations experienced serious work reductions as a result of the great recession. Land was purchased next to Myers Rd. in Albert Lea for a bus garage. Albert Lea’s Senior Program expanded into the community.



CVS celebrated 50 years of service. A sales tax audit resulted in a fairly successful outcome. Terry Brink, Management Services Director, retired after 32 years of service. The School to Work Program continued to grow. Seniors had increased access to programming. Efficiency improvements were realized through the purchase of equipment and fork lifts. Austin and Albert Lea added passenger vans to improve transportation services.



The Albert Lea Transit bus garage was put out to bid. Planning began for a new men’s residence. The residence received a rate increase. The United Way of Mower County provided an increase in funding to the Community Employment Program. The financial application software package was replaced. CVS received a Three year Accreditation.



Funding for the construction of a Transit Program garage in Albert Lea was substantially increased. Construction began and continued into 2013. A new men’s residence in Owatonna was completed. Planning began for an addition to the Austin facility. Computer applications were upgraded including time keeping. Most of the CVS communication radios were replaced according to federal requirements. Contract sales began to recover in Owatonna. The Austin Top Flight Program was remodeled and increased in size to meet the needs of future referrals.



Taggert Medgaarden was promoted from Information Technology Manager to Management Services Director. Construction of an addition and remodeling to the main Austin site began in late summer. We received a grant of $300,000 from the Hormel Foods Company, and a grant of $300,000 from the Hormel Foundation toward the Austin building addition and remodel. CVS entered into an agreement with the state to provide public transit in Mower and Steele counties in addition to the existing public transit provided by CVS in Freeborn County. Capital projects exceeded $1.3 million. Unfortunately, the Austin School-to-Work Program saw significant decreases as a result of state policy and local changes. The organization realized a 1.5 million surplus on a budget of 13M. Placement efforts resulted in improved numbers of individuals getting competitive and supported jobs.



The Austin Building Addition and Remodel was completed. Kris Burkey was promoted to Finance Director. Equipment was purchased and facility remodeling began to accommodate the addition of the Mayo Health Systems Albert Lea laundry contract, and the expansion of the Austin Mayo contract. Maureen Lynch, Program Director, retired from CVS after 36 years of service. Karen Baier was promoted to Program Director CVS began the first full year with the transit program known as SMART  (Southern Minnesota Area Rider Transit). Jim Mueller , Executive Director, retired after 35 years of service.



Rich Pavek became the New Executive Director. Garry Hart was promoted to Albert Lea Division Director.



SMART Transit started in Waseca County.


Started a new 7 year contract for Mower County Recycling and Curbside Pick-up.



SMART $500K expansion contract for Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna.