Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. was chartered as a not-for-profit corporation on October 20, 1999 in the state of Missouri. It was organized for the fundamental charitable purpose of providing education, training and vocational opportunities for people with severe disabilities. Seed money and in kind contributions for legal and accounting fees and other expenses of organization were donated by a Missouri corporation. Shortly after receiving its charter a board of directors was established. Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. first board of directors was as follows:

Neal Ethridge

President of Board (resigned May 25, 2001); added November 2006 as member
Springfield, MO

Terry Schultz

St. Charles, MO 63304

Frank Davidson

Springfield, MO 64807

Jim Hagale

Springfield, MO 65802

GPE is a not-for-profit corporation organized for the specific purpose of providing education, training and employment opportunities for the blind, disabled and the significantly disabled.  Since its charter GPE has actively pursued business opportunities that furthered this purpose, creating new jobs for the disabled in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Nevada, while fostering an environment that promoted success for both the employees and the customers.

A quality service organization employing people with significant disabilities, providing customers services exceeding expectations; building and expanding the business base through excellence of performance and character of reputation.

  • To hire and employ blind and individuals with disabilities to the maximum extent possible
  • To provide education, training and vocational opportunities for all employees
  • To meet or exceed industry standards for quality and timeliness for all core functions
  • To exceed customer expectations for quality and timeliness
  • To grow the business base, expanding throughout the United States
  • To develop positive community image

Although GPE was chartered for a specific charitable purpose, it does not obviate the focus on customer and customer satisfaction.  All business ventures depend on customer or consumer satisfaction for continued existence, GPE is no different; and perhaps because of the nature of the workforce, must exceed expectations.  To this end, GPE has developed a Strategic Vision that embraces both the employment goals of its charter and customer orientation.

  • Commissary
  • Shelf Stocking
  • Warehousing
  • Custodial
  • Laundry

In early 2000 Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. had discussions with the National Institute of Severely Handicapped (NISH) (Now known as Source America) at Fort Riley, Kansas concerning the possibility of setting aside the post laundry service for Ability One procurement. Thus, Great Plains Enterprises set up a post office box in Junction City and registered to do business in Kansas. The President/Treasurer and Secretary were not compensated at that time and Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. did not have a physical office in Junction City, Kansas, hence the post office box address. Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. had great hopes of establishing a physical laundry plant in Junction City, Kansas to offer employment to severely handicapped individuals and perform the laundry services for Fort Riley which was closing the government owned laundry plant. However, the government decided to solicit laundry services from commercial contractors and would not accept the NISH/Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. proposal.

In February 2001 Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. was contacted by Source America to discuss interest in Ability One set-aside commissary contract at Fort Irwin, California. The current Ability One contractor had decline continuing the operations and Source America was seeking a qualified organization to take over the contract. Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. acquired the services of John H. Stephens, a Las Vegas resident, who had previous experience with government contracted commissary operations to spearhead this endeavor. After meeting with Source America personnel and examining the operations at the Fort Irwin Commissary, Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. agreed to take over the contract and it was awarded to them. The operation at the Fort Irwin Commissary was successfully operated by Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. employing and training handicapped individuals by working closely with local rehabilitation placement agencies until 2015.

Because Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. had no other business activities ongoing at that time, they had to ramp up quickly to get going and perform in a professional manner. Not having any other base of operations to support administrative functions meant they had to contract with medical, legal, and accounting professionals to make sure they were in compliance with the Ability One program, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and state and local government laws, rules, and regulations. Outsourcing of professional services worked very well for Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. Not only were they able to obtain the best available service, they only had to pay for what was used and not for full time staff with non-full time work.

After demonstrating success at Fort Irwin, Source America offered and Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. accepted the Fort Hood I Commissary contract at Fort Hood, Texas in July 2001. This was an Ability One set aside and the current Ability One contractor could not reach an agreement with the government over price and decided to terminate their participation. Again, Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. stepped in and performed successfully until September 2005 when the government decided to take the operations back in house.

John H. Stephens was appointed President and Terry Schultz was appointed Corporate Secretary in January 2004.  Corporate Headquarters were moved to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Then in May 2004 Source America contacted Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. about the possibility of taking over the Nellis AFB Commissary contract. The Ability One contractor was struggling, having difficulty financially with numerous performance issues. Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. accepted and was awarded the contract. With a customer service attitude, Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. again stepped in to establish great relationship with the store manager and provide a stable business management environment, at the same time meeting Source America and Ability One priorities for employing and training handicapped persons.

Fast forward to July 2006, Yuma MCAS Commissary. The incumbent Ability One contractor was operating at a deficit and could not reach a price accord with the government. Again, Great Plains Enterprises, Inc. stepped up to the plate, instituted good fiscal management, goes the extra mile to train personnel, and successfully manages the contract meeting goals for the government and Ability One. 

In September 2006, Terry Schultz was elected as Chairman of the Board, Great Plains   He continues in that position today.  

In July 2007 Source America again contacted Great Plains Enterprises, this time offering a new contract at Altus AFB, Altus OK that had just been added to the Procurement List. As the current contract was commercial, this opportunity presented enormous obstacles at start-up just two weeks later. There were no disabled employees on-board, no one with Ability One experience to manage the operation and little time to garner a management team to commence operation on August 1, 2007. Nonetheless, GPE tackled the challenge enthusiastically, developing relationships with local Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRP), hiring and training management personnel, bringing in a start-up team to hire, train and acquire the requisite tools to successfully run the operation at Altus. This process was complicated by Altus’ location in western Oklahoma, making logistics difficult.

GPE submitted an 18 month transition plan to NISH attempting to fulfill the 75% disabled employee requirement by January 2009. Proudly, GPE exceeded the disabled quota by June 2008 and today employs 82% disabled employees.

In recent years, GPE attempted to expand its’ service line to laundry operations having worked with Source America on conversion of the Ft. Leonard Wood laundry from an on-post government operation to a commercial GPE Source America laundry in 2007. However, once again, the government decided to retain the operation and would not add the Fort Leonard Wood laundry operation to the Procurement List.

In January 2009, GPE developed another laundry proposal to process linen, linen rental and garrison laundry. The proposals were accepted by Blanchfield Army Hospital and Fort Campbell. Work on the two contracts began June 1, 2009.  

The laundry contracts at Fort Campbell and Blanchfield Army hospital are unique in several respects.  First GPE had no native experience in providing that type of service; it did not have a laundry facility, nor did it own trucks to transport dirty and clean linen.  Having worked previously with Penn Enterprises Inc., (PEI) developing Ability One proposals for Forts Riley and Leonard Wood, GPE again turned to them building a concept of operation for the Fort Campbell location.  As a result, GPE formed a strategic partnership with PEI, wherein they provided the laundry expertise, became a subcontractor for transportation providing both trucks and drivers.  Additionally, a contract with a local commercial laundry was let to do all laundry at its’ plant.  GPE retained the functions of collection, folding and distributing laundry on Fort Campbell.

Because of the success of the Fort Campbell laundry operation, GPE decided to build its’ own laundry expertise and capability, but also leveraged the capability by formalizing the strategic alliance with PEI.  In August 2010; GPE purchased the Busy Bee laundry in Rolla, Missouri, a 50-year old facility, with a minimum of production equipment.  The building was leased to PEI who in turn modernized the equipment package and installed a barrier wall to meet OSHA requirements for the laundering hospital linen.  Subsequently it moved the production for all Fort Leonard Wood laundry to the facility.  

Today the remake of the Rolla, MO Laundry is almost complete.  Currently there is excess capacity of almost 4 million pounds a year.  GPE plans on establishing a second shift in the event Veteran Administration laundry contracts through NISH can be procured.

GPE continues its’ pursuit of new business which will provide meaningful employment and training to this country’s disabled. It continues its’ business model of employ contract specialist for proposals and start-up operations, choosing this paradigm because of the built in leverage.

GPE is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada.