Minnesota's MDI expands with model that mainstreams workers with disabilities

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Minnesota's MDI expands with model that mainstreams workers with disabilities

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CEO Peter McDermott of Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) wasn't looking for this job.

However, he took over the failing contract manufacturer nearly a decade ago from a dismissed manager and turned it into a growth company of 525 employees, including nearly half with developmental disabilities. 

MDI has plants in northeast Minneapolis, Hibbing, Grand Rapids and Cohasset.

"This is the best job I've ever had and I've enjoyed them all," said McDermott, 68, who started as a public accountant in St. Paul, served as CFO of Blandin Paper and Cirrus Aircraft, and also ran the economic development board for Itasca County, from which he was recruited by the MDI board.

"We've got all the challenges of any business," McDermott said. "We have to do a good business, generate positive cash flow and add more people."

MDI also has a mission to hire and develop employees with disabilities through an integrated-workforce approach.

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