SPOKANE, Wash.—Single Handed Consulting, a disability management service that helps injured workers get back to work, has been named the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Star Client of the Year.
Owned by siblings Katie Leneker-Hynes and Kevin Leneker, the business employs nearly 40 vocational rehabilitation counselors across the state. Kevin Leneker accepted the award at Washington’s Small Business Awards Gala on Wednesday at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Over the past five years, Single Handed Consulting has worked with more than 6,000 workers—and their employers—impacted by a workplace injury. Single Handed Consulting provides disability management, employer consulting, vocational testing and legal and forensic evaluations related to workers’ compensation cases.
“This is truly a business that does well by doing good,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC. “Successful resolutions of workers’ compensation claims benefit not just the workers, but their families and the businesses where they work.”
The Washington SBDC is a network of more than 35 business advisors and two international trade business advisors working in communities across the state to help business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and buy/sell a business. The Washington SBDC has been hosted by Washington State University since 1980.
“The Lenekers started their business with passion, grit and tenacity, but those are not guarantees of continued success,” Fladland said. “The effort they have put into the business side of their business, setting up systems to build and protect their workforce while expanding capacity and continuing to meet their own high expectations of customer service is truly remarkable.”
Both Leneker and Leneker-Hynes spent more than a decade working with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries before launching their own business in 2014. Born with one arm, Leneker has direct experience as a differently abled person in the workplace and has also experienced a workplace injury.
“A disability or a difference in ability does not diminish your worth and should not limit your ability to work,” Leneker has said.
While vocational counselors are typically focused on helping the injured worker, Single Handed Consulting strives to assist the employer as well, educating them on the process and helping relieve the administrative burden as much as possible.
“The employer can focus on sustaining their business while we facilitate the return of their injured worker,” Leneker said.
When the business started in 2014 there were five vocational rehabilitation counselors. That first year they received 348 referrals from five of L&I’s 15 designated regions. Over the next two years they nearly tripled in size. Rapid growth can lead to heartbreaking failure, Leneker said, and he was determined not to let that happen.
So in 2016 the Lenekers sought assistance through the Thurston County Economic Development Council and enrolled in an SBA-sponsored ScaleUp program. That program was a game-changer, he said, and it also introduced him to Ron Nielsen, an SBDC advisor who at that time was working at the South Puget Sound Community College Center for Business and Innovation.
“Ron gave me the operating system and the education to be where we are today,” Leneker said.
Leneker has accessed multiple resources at the Center for Business and Innovation, including working with the Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and taking courses in Profit Mastery, and served on the advisor board as well.
Today, Single Handed Consulting has 42 employees and gets an average of 132 client referrals every month. With a dispersed workforce located in communities across the state, the Lenekers work hard to recruit, train and retain highly qualified employees. They pay 90 percent of healthcare premiums and offer dental, vision and life insurance, supplemental short-term disability insurance, matching 401K plans and education reimbursement.
In addition to building a strong organizational culture, they also contribute to their communities. Some of their favorite projects are The Heroes Project, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Special Olympics. They also contribute to Lewis County Special Olympics, Thurston County Special Olympics Swim Team, Thurston County Downs Syndrome Chapter “The Buddy Walk,” and the ALS chapter of Washington.
The Washington SBDC is funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration and WSU. Additional funding is provided by other institutions of higher education and business and civic organizations. All SBDC services are provided at no cost to the business owner.
For more about the Washington SBDC, go to https://wsbdc.org.
For more about Single Handed Consulting, go to https://www.shcvoc.com/.
Hope Tinney, [email protected], 509-432-8254