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Local president leaves legacy of opportunity for people with disabilities

A manufacturing business with a powerful mission, the Peoria Production Shop strives to be the premiere employer for those with disabilities in the Greater Peoria Area. Now, after nearly half a century as their leader, Dick Peplow is retiring.

On Wednesday they held a celebration to honor a man who always focused on the amazing things people can do when given the chance.

After 46 years are their President and CEO Dick Peplow is passing on the reigns.

From sewing to packing for other businesses, PPS currently employs nearly 200 individuals with some form of disability.

“It took very little time, probably less than three months and I decided I belong here.” said Peplow

His wife Nena said the mission has become a part of him.

“I’m just so proud of everything that he’s done from moving the Peoria Production Shop from Glen Ave to this beautiful new facility, he’s got a heart for the people and he’s embraced that.” said Nena Peplow

All the employees donned “Dick said I’m his favorite” shirts. A testament to his relationship with them.

“He treats everyone like a family member and not all of us have family here in Peoria so I would definitely say that I have become part of his family.” said Patricia Garcia, an 8 year employee

“He’s passionate about the people who work for him and I always say he’s left us better than he’s found us.” echoed Michelle Shay, an 18 year employee

He said working with those so grateful to have a job is humbling.

“I can think it’s a terrible day, but I can walk out on the shop floor and I see people who are happy, I see people who are glad to be here, I see people who are glad to see me.” said Peplow
“It shows people with disabilities can excel, they just need to have an opportunity to show what they can do.”

The next in line, Dan Laturno, said he knows he has big shoes to fill,

“For Dick this is family this is more than just a job for him and to put me in charge of his people is amazing. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it.” said Laturno

Dick’s son Michael, who surprised his father at the event, said he could not be more proud to have learned from his dad.

“Seeing how much of himself that he puts into just the daily activities here at the shop taught me how you should treat an employee, how you should just treat the people that you work with.” said Michael Peplow

Peplow was given a proclamation by Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis at the celebration on Wednesday  delivered by Councilmen Denis Cyr and Sid Ruckriegel.

Dick said he looks forward to spending this next chapter with his family, but will always call Peoria Production Shop home.



Kaitlin Pearson

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