The History of ORC Industries


Leading the Nation, Right From the Start

In 1966 James Holtan had a desire to create a non-profit organization where people with disabilities could find employment opportunities, and thereby lead a more independent lifestyle.  Little did James Holtan know that in creating ORC Industries, he was creating not only a new organization, but a community built on a lifestyle of quality and personal self-worth. James Holtan was literally leading the nation in his vision for ORC Industries.

The Business of a Non-Profit

One of James Holtan’s founding ideals for ORC Industries was that the non-profit organization would be run as efficiently as a business, always guided by its overall mission. That ideal continues to be a fundamental part of ORC’s business plan and has led us to become a more self-reliant, integrated and credible company. It has also infused our management team and our employees with the pride in knowing that they are taking part in creating and contributing something of great value both now, and for the future.

Our business, quality and community philosophy led ORC to incorporate ISO 9000 compliant processes in our manufacturing. It has also resulted in a variety of dynamic and growing divisions. These include specialized sewing of apparel for the Armed Forces, cutting and spreading of material, quality inspection, light assembly, packaging, sorting, embroidery, plastic injection molding, warehousing and logistics, snowshoe manufacturing, with new ventures in aquaponics, thrift resale, adult family homes and commercial laundry. All in keeping with our true mission to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

A History of Success

ORC Industries takes a great deal of pride in having been, and continuing to be, on the cutting edge of development and manufacturing.  In 1983 ORC was the only manufacturer able to source a new and improved sealant for the United States Armed Forces poncho. ORC continued to manufacture this mainstay of the Armed Forces until 2014. In 1995, ORC collaborated with Natick Research & Development Laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts to develop and test the Improved Rainsuit for the United States Army with manufacturing to follow until 2011. Both of these products highlight our partnership with our Customers and commitment to quality and pursuit of production excellence.

Through all of these successes, the ORC mission is always at the forefront of what we accomplish, guiding the organization to continue to provide financial independence, a productive lifestyle, and a true sense of self and pride for our employees with disabilities. Our mission is what guided the board of directors of ORC Industries to create even greater opportunities for people with disabilities through the purchase of Bell Canoe and Redfeather Snowshoes in 2006. In that year production for these two quality products was moved to ORC’s home base of La Crosse, Wisconsin where production of Redfeather Snowshoes continues today.

ORC Facilities

What began in 1966 with a vision and 15 employees in La Crosse, Wisconsin, has blossomed into one of the nation’s leading examples of job creation for people with disabilities, who thrive in a community atmosphere and provide a high level of quality workmanship. ORC Industries gainfully employs people at its three plants in Arcadia and La Crosse, Wisconsin, and in Brownsville, Texas. An affirmative action employer with at least 75 percent of our employees having a disability, ORC has risen to the challenge of creation itself; creating jobs, creating quality, creating a caring community work environment, creating self-worth, independence and pride among ORC employees, and creating a company that competes in the global marketplace.

Perhaps nothing so aptly describes our company and our commitment to our employees and our Customers than the simple phrase, “Made in America”.