A Danville non-profit company and industrial institution still trying to regain its footing after financial problems drew the attention of law enforcement is also being looked at by the Internal Revenue Service.
Pioneer Vocation Industrial Services on Corporate Drive announced about 34 layoffs in February. Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Mike Pittman — hired earlier this year when fiscal troubles were uncovered after the January retirement of former director Ron Zimmerman — said Wednesday 12 more people had to be laid off in the last six weeks because the job they were working on was losing additional money for the company.
Pittman said there currently are about 24 employees and eight office staff at the facility.
Pittman said the cuts have allowed the facility, which is governed by a board of directors, to put some money in the bank and pay its bills. However, the IRS is scheduled to visit later this month, and he believes the company could owe a significant amount in back taxes as well as penalties and interest.
Pioneer opened in 1967 with the primary mission of offering employment and rehabilitation for individuals with disabilities. It has regularly done manufacturing and light assembly projects for both local industries and theU.S. military, for which the plant has worked on cold weather sleeping mats for many years.
In 2010, Pioneer won government contract work on cold weather jackets for U.S. Special Forces, the largest project in terms of manpower the company had ever undertaken, according to Zimmerman. It required hiring 65 new employees. By the time Pittman was hired, though, he said the project actually was hemorrhaging money on a daily basis.
In March, the Drug Enforcement/Special Investigation unit of the Kentucky State Police confirmed it was initiating an investigation into Pioneer’s books. No charges have been filed, and Detective Brian Reeder, who is heading up the investigation, said last week he couldn’t say whether the investigation would lead to indictments of any current or former employees. After reviewing the company’s finances, Pittman said it is clear resources were mismanaged, but all money appears to be accounted for.
Depending on what the IRS finds, Pittman believes the future could actually be brighter for Pioneer. The current workforce is completing an order of 16,000 of the low temperature sleeping mats, and Pittman said there is potential for an annual order to work on 100,000 of a redesigned, fold-up version of the mat.
The company has continued to do work for local companies like Caterpillar, AdMart, Bay West and Hobart. All of the current employees working at Pioneer have some type of disability, Pittman said.