Having an inclusive employment policy is not a big deal to Whanganui company Axiam Plastics.

"We employ people for their abilities and we have an excellent workforce," general manager Frank Oskam said.

"People who arrive with enthusiasm and a good work ethic are what we want and if they happen to have a disability, we find a way to help them do their job."

It is the kind of thinking that has earned the company a nomination for an Attitude Award.


Jan Lawton, of Workbridge Whanganui, nominated Axiam for the Attitude ACC Employer Award and they have been selected as one of three finalists in the category.

"Axiam demonstrate the kind of view that we always look for in employers," Lawton said.

"It is the willingness to be accommodating and flexible that leads to successful relationships."

Oskam said it is simply common sense to employ people who want to work.

"For workers with physical disabilities, we are willing to make adaptations and the reward for us is having a great team."

One member of the team is Dene McGonigle who, despite being born with one arm, works on a range of machines at Axiam.

"The only problem I had was the height of the workbenches," he said.

"I now have a portable one that I can move around easily and adjust the height with my foot."


Lawton was able to secure MSD funding to install the workbench last year and McGonigle said it has made his work life far easier.

Axiam has also installed its own equipment to help make life easier for employees.

Visually impaired worker Joe Fallen has a specially adapted O-ring machine, which fits small plastic rings on to hose fittings.

"We have also installed another piece of equipment - a pneumatic wrench that is easy for Joe to use," Oskam said.

Last year, Lawton presented Axiam with an Above and Beyond Award for their efforts and now she is preparing to accompany McGonigle and Axiam foreman Derek Cook to the awards ceremony at Auckland's SkyCity on November 22.

The Attitude Trust established the annual awards in 2008 to champion the integration of people with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Last year, Whanganui paraclimber Rachel Maia won the emerging athlete gong at the awards and local company Horticultural Services was a finalist for the Attitude ACC Employer Award.

Whanganui company Pacific Helmets was a finalist in the category in 2014 and Lawton said it would be fantastic if the award came to Whanganui this year.